Planning rules relaxed

Hammer and nail

Homeowners will be allowed to make improvements and extensions to their properties without planning consent, under a new government scheme.
The Prime Minister has announced plans to sweep away restrictions so people can build loft extensions, conservatories and garage conversions, uninhibited by their local authority.

Economy boost

Under the scheme, the size of extensions allowed without permission will be doubled to about 20ft for terraced houses and 26ft for detached houses.
"A 10% increase in floor space, other things equal, adds 5% to the price of a typical house," says Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist.

"Homeowners that add a loft conversion or extension incorporating a double bedroom and a bathroom can add about 23% to the value of an existing three-bedroom, one-bathroom house," he adds.

While the government scheme aims to boost the economy by getting developers building, Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association, says the scheme will not address the underlying problems causing low demand in the housing market.

This is because the policy will not make it easier for developers to sell houses more cheaply, he says.
Another criticism of the scheme is that it will prevent residents from easily opposing building plans in their community.