New Law in England Allows for Easier House Additions

Craving a sunroom to help stave off the winter blues or an annex to accommodate baby No. 3?

If you own a house in England, then you can now proceed without the red tape of local planning permission, according to new rules the U.K.’s Ministry of Housing announced over the weekend.

The law enacted on Saturday allows owners of detached houses to build a single-story addition of up to 8 meters (26.2 feet) in length from the back of the home without going through a full planning application—a process that can take two months or more—according to a news release about the changes. The new rule gives owners of terraced houses and semi-detached homes a little less leeway, allowing for an extension up to 6 meters (19.68 feet).

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“This is part of a package of reforms to build more, better, faster and make the housing market work,” said Housing Minister Kit Malthouse in a statement about the changes. He added that it was part of a package of housing reforms that aim to rev up new development and reach 300,000 new homes per year by 2020.

“These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape,” he added.

The convoluted and drawn-out approvals process has led some overconfident homeowners to forge ahead without permission—often to their own detriment.

Singer Ed Sheeran has run up against a district council in Suffolk on multiple occasions in his attempts to build on and remodel his sprawling country home. For instance, the board denied his request in 2018 to build a chapel on the property, according to planning records, and reportedly demanded that he remove a large sign he’d hung on the barn reportedly in dedication to his wife.

In April, he applied for formal permission to hang the sign on the barn and is still awaiting approval, planning records show.

The eased construction rules might not allow for a chapel, but they do make building an additional bedroom or sunroom easier for thousands of English homeowners.

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Lawmakers have been testing the relaxed building rules since 2013, when they temporarily allowed for small additions without planning approvals. Since 2014, roughly 110,000 extensions were built under the relaxed rules, according to the Housing Ministry.

The new law makes those temporary rules permanent.

Nearby residents will still have a say under the new laws, which force an addition to undergo formal planning permissions if a neighbor objects.


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