The sky’s the limit? New permitted development right for building upwards on existing blocks of flats

13th July, 2020

New rules allowing apartment buildings to be extended by two-storeys come into force on 1 August 2020

Under updated national legislation, building new homes on top of existing, detached, purpose-built blocks of flats will be allowed in certain circumstances without the need to submit a planning application.

The new permitted development right is subject to a number of limitations and conditions.  For example, it will be restricted to buildings of three or more storeys in height and those built between July 1 1948 and March 5 2018.

Other key restrictions include:

  • Limit on maximum overall height of the building to 30 metres
  • The addition must be no greater than 7 metres higher than the existing roof
  • The floor to ceiling height of each additional storey must be no more than 3 metres. 

This right does not apply in protected areas such as Conservation Areas, National Parks or AONBs – nor does it apply to Listed Buildings.

Before building work can start an application must be submitted to the relevant local planning authority to decide if ‘Prior Approval’ is required for the extension.  This allows the council to consider the proposal in relation to the following issues and if any mitigation is required: -

  • Transport and highways impact of the development
  • Air traffic and defence asset impacts of the development
  • Contamination risks in relation to the building
  • Flooding risks in relation to the building
  • The external appearance of the building
  • The provision of adequate natural light in all habitable rooms of the new flats
  • Impact on the amenity of the existing building and neighbouring premises including overlooking, privacy and the loss of light
  • Whether because of the siting of the building, the development will impact on a protected view.

If the Council states that Prior Approval is required for any, or all, of the above matters, but refuses to give Prior Approval, then a planning application would be required to demonstrate the acceptability of the development.

Given the range of exclusions, limitations and conditions set out within the new Part 20 (Construction of New Dwellinghouses), Class A (New dwellinghouses on detached blocks of flats) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, sites should be carefully appraised to understand if a building is eligible to benefit from the new permitted development right.  However, for landowners with purpose-built flats in town and city locations, this is potentially good news, paving the way to add value to existing developments.

For assistance in assessing a building’s potential to benefit from this new permitted development opportunity, or for a wider planning strategy appraisal to include a permitted development review, please do get in touch with our experienced team by emailing us at: info@pro-vision.co.uk