On July 21st 2020 Parliament laid down new planning laws in a bid to tackle the housing crisis and revitalise ailing town centres across the UK.  The UK’s current planning laws were 70 years old and Boris Johnson’s ‘new deal’ includes a ‘build, build, build’ directive making it easier to build better homes where people want to live. 

The rules were actually put into place temporarily 5 years ago, and 110,000 extensions have been completed since then, but they have now been made permanent. 

The housing minister said: “These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape. By making this permitted development right permanent, it will mean families can grow without being forced to move.” 

For homeowners it means that they can add two additional storeys to their homes through a fast track process, that does not need full planning permission, to either create a new dwelling or increase space. Homeowners can put up a single-storey rear extension up to six metres for terraced or semi-detached homes and eight metres for detached homes. There is a requirement however to consider the appearance of the development and the impact it would have on the neighbours. 


It is hoped that this relaxation of the red tape will allow people to build in their local areas, where they want to, and relieve the pressure on greenfield sites for development.  

SWJ Consulting recently produced a guide for homeowners to guide them through the process of instructing a structural engineer when considering an extension or alteration.  

Now homeowners who want to build larger extensions (extending beyond the rear wall of the original house)  

  • over four and up to eight metres for detached houses 
  • over three and up to six metres for all other houses 

must apply to the local authority, who will then consult the adjoining neighbours. If there are any objects the local authority will determine the impact of the proposed development and whether it can go ahead. 

More information can be found at the planning portal. 

Change of Use and Demolition  

The new rules also mean that full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes and it will be easier to repurpose commercial and retail properties into homes which may help to revive the look of the high street. It is hoped town centres will now be able to adapt more quickly to what consumers and businesses need, whether that is more retail and office space or more homes.  

Essential community buildings such as libraries as well as theatres, concert halls and live music performance venues are protected as they make up the ‘fabric’ of an area and need to be saved for future generations. 

If you are considering an extension or alteration on your home then please give us a call on 01993 225 085 or email mail@swjconsulting.co.uk. We can talk you through what is likely to be needed in regards to foundations, supporting walls, the risk of subsidence if you are extending near trees etc.

For planning advice and to find out the progress of a planning application:
Contact your Local Planning Authority 

For building control advice and to find out the progress of a building control application:
Contact your Local Authority Building Control Department