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Considering a Rear Extension or Loft Conversion? You Need to Read this!   


Planning officers are increasingly concerned about the impact that a residential development will have not only the current neighbours, but also the future owners.

Extension projects that are most likely to be reduced in scope are side returns and loft conversions.  Reductions in size to these areas can dramatically impact on the practicality, and of course the value of the property. 

Rear extensions:-

Most likely the ground floor extension purpose is to develop the kitchen/dining area.  Your local council often limits the height of the extension on the boundary wall and the protrusion out along the boundary from the rear of the existing or original structure.  

Even if your neighbour doesn’t complain or object the council will consider the impact on the future neighbour and enforce suffocating restrictions to the design. 

Strangely enough, even if your neighbour submits an application the council will restrict or even reject that also!

The solution:-

Why not consider a joint application with your neighbour?  The council will almost certainly approve up to 3 metre high extensions extending well into the garden areas of 6m or so.

Loft conversions:-

These can also be restricted by the council saying that the rear mansard cannot be extended all the way to the party wall, insisting it be stepped in over 1metre, losing you valuable head height that may make something like a wardrobe or an en-suite impossible. This has huge practical and financial implications and possibly making the project a non-starter.

The solution:-

Again, a joint application with your neighbour is a good idea. Now you can in effect build the party/boundary wall up and the flat roof of the mansard will join to it. 

If it adds the en-suite it’s adding real value.

What is the catch?

Well, the council can- and probably will subject the joint applications to a condition that says both yours and your neighbour’s development must be started at the same time.  Sounds fair enough, however life is never that easy when it comes to neighbours and you want your extension or conversion completed by Christmas! 

The work around:-

Before you commence work on any project under a planning approval, notice must be served to the council.  With a joint application, to satisfy the condition, both yours and your neighbour’s commencement must be notified and started.   Notification is a paper exercise and quick to submit. On the face of it the start on site is harder if not impossible to get resolved as both should start at the same time.  The truth is much simpler.  Once the planning laws and party wall laws work in our favour. You see your neighbour shares the party wall  or boundary and as the joint application utilises this line when you put spade to ground for your side you also put spade to ground for your neighbours – thus both projects are started , the condition has been met and you can proceed to build your extension even if your neighbour never does!

The bonus point:-

The selling point to your neighbour is that even if they do not want to build the project themselves the approved application that is now “started” never expires, so they have built-in extra value when they sell or indeed the may choose one day to extend.  Everyone is happy, even the council- and you are a winner.


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