DCLG consultation commences on proposals for upward extensions in London

The launch of an 8 week consultation on upward extensions in London, jointly prepared by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Mayor of London, proposes increased flexibility for developers.

Currently developers are required to submit a planning application to the local planning authority if they want to extend a building upwards, above the height of an existing roofline.

But now comments and feedback are being sought on consultation proposals to support housing supply, by increasing residential density and providing further freedom to “build up” in London.

The consultation will run from the 18 February to the 15 April 2016.

Three proposals for upward extensions:

The document presents three proposals to enable upward extensions in London to provide self-contained flats. The three options are:

  • Option 1 – a London-wide permitted development right, with a prior approval, for up to 2 additional storeys, up to the roofline of an adjoining building
  • Option 2 –  boroughs making local development orders to grant planning permission to extend upwards for all or part of their area, or for particular types of buildings
  • Option 3 – planning policies in the London Plan to support upward extensions for new homes

The consultation document indicates that these three options are not mutually exclusive and could “work together to incentivise housing delivery in London.”

Overview of the consultation document:

In order to facilitate this, the options above propose a range of new PD rights, plan policies and local development rights. These would be subject to conditions and caveats and highlights from the document are outlined below:

Option 1:

  • Proposes particular circumstances where PD rights for upward extensions may apply; e.g. where the buildings at either end of a “single terrace” have a higher roof line than the rest of the terrace. Subject to prior approval, these may be allowed to increase their height to the higher roofline, or by two additional storeys, whichever is lesser.
  • Suggests certain types of property where PD rights for upward extensions may best apply, for example: houses, flats, retail and other high street uses and offices.
  • Under a London-wide PD right, the local planning authority would consider impact on amenity, “only where neighbours raise objections.”
  • The consultation document states that the new PD rights would apply to conservation areas, potentially subject to prior approval, but would not apply to listed buildings.
  • The new PD rights will be subject to prior approval on aspects such as space standards, visual amenity and also the method and means of construction.

Option 2:

  • London boroughs could develop local development orders to meet the particular needs of their area in terms of “amenity requirements, height and design of the building, or the particular size or type of home to meet housing needs in the borough.” Prior approval may also be required.

Option 3:

  • Upward extensions through the London Plan; whilst a planning application would still be required, new planning policies could be brought forward to support upward extensions, and could be linked to existing policies for areas of intensification already set out within the London Plan. In turn local plans across the boroughs have to be in “general conformity” with the London Plan and its policies taken into account when deciding planning applications.

A planning consultants view:

The consultation document asks some relevant questions, but it remains a vague outline for a proposal which will require careful consideration in terms of design, impact on neighbouring dwellings and privacy, and the practicalities of implementation.

However, whilst developments of this kind in central city locations such as Westminster are unlikely, boroughs further from the city centre could see a real opportunity for development, which could encourage innovation and more efficient use of space for developers and homeowners alike.

As ever, Plainview Planning will be keeping a close eye on the consultation and policy situation as it evolves.

About us:

Plainview Planning is a Town and County Planning Consultancy with offices based in Gloucestershire, London, Sussex and Essex.  Our dynamic, knowledgeable and innovative team provide expert planning support across the developer, householder and commercial sectors. If your proposed development requires expert planning assistance, contact our team via