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Prior approval requirements added to PDR for upward extensions

Monday 04 January 2021

The government have inserted another prior approval condition to the permitted development right (PDR) that allows upwards extensions to be added to residential and commercial properties without requiring planning permission.

The PDR came into effect at the end of August 2020. It permits:

  • Class AA: Construction of up to two new storeys of flats on top of detached buildings in commercial or mixed use, including where there is an element of residential use.
  • Class AB: Construction of new flats on top of terrace buildings (including semi-detached buildings) in commercial or mixed (including residential) use. Two storeys can be added if the existing building is two or more storeys tall, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey.
  • Class AC: Construction of new flats on top of terrace dwelling houses (including semi-detached houses); two storeys may be added if the existing building is two or more storeys tall, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey.
  • Class AD permits the construction of new flats on top of detached dwelling houses; two storeys may be added if the existing building is two or more storeys tall, or one additional storey where the building consists of one storey. 

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No. 4) Order 2020 requires a developer seeking prior approval under these classes in relation to an existing building that is 18 metres or more in height “to provide a report from a chartered engineer or other competent professional confirming that the external wall construction of the existing building complies with paragraph B4(1) of Schedule 1 to the Building Regulations 2010 (S.I. 2010/2214) to the local planning authority”.

This was set out in a letter from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to local planning authorities in England.

It adds that the external walls of the building “shall adequately resist the spread of fire over the walls and from one building to another”.

If a report is not provided, local planning authorities “must refuse prior approval”.

According to the letter, the ministry does not expect local planning authorities to have the necessary expertise to scrutinise the reports in detail, but “they should take reasonable steps to satisfy themselves there is no reason to doubt the conclusions of the report”. The letter suggests checking with the building control department to see if they have any concerns about the building in question.

Local planning authorities should also be satisfied that the reports have been produced by suitably qualified and experienced professionals. If the authority is not satisfied, prior approval should be refused. 4D Planning have the expertise and knowledge to advise on compliance with fire regulations and other building regulation requirements to satisfy Building Control and the Planners. Get in touch for a free consultation here.

The measures came into affect on 30 December 2020.

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