The London Homebuilding & Renovating show has been and gone. We could have chosen a better week. AIG failing, Lehman Bros failing, HBOS becoming a distress takeover for Lloyds TSB, stories of thousands of job cuts up and down the land: it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the housing market. It’s funny, but turmoil always seems to come in the second or third week in September.
Despite all this, there were still many brave souls who made it to ExCel and I spent just as much time talking as ever, hearing some interesting stories along the way.
One topic of conversation that kept coming up was the aforementioned changes to our Permitted Development Rights. Everyone at least seem to have heard about them, which I suppose shows that the government has at least got the message out that something is afoot. But in truth many of the show visitors thought that these PD Rights Thingies were being introduced for the first time as a major concession — i.e. they hadn’t realised that they have always existed and are simply being amended.
I had an interesting conversation with Hugo Tugman of Architect Your Home who finessed me on some of the changes. One thing I hadn’t quite groked before is that the PD Rights for extensions and loft conversions have been separated, which is good news for lots of people. Before, you got 70m3 of extension out the back or of 50m3 of additional roofspace. If you used up 50m3 building a small extension, any roof changes you might later plan would require planning permission. That’s no longer the case. There’s an allowance for the extension AND the loft.
However, there are lots of little fiddly bits which have crept in as well which need to be deconstructed. The roof extension can no longer be built up directly off the back wall, you now have to step it back 200mm from the eaves. Solar panels are acceptable without planning permission, provided they don’t protrude beyond 150mm above the roofline (they shouldn’t). Even more good news for Good Lifers is that garden buildings can now include hen houses, pigstys and beehives. I’m sure the neighbours will appreciate that one.
Finally, there is something in here about off-street parking bays. You can still have them but if the area covered is greater than 5m2 (i.e. a very small car), then the materials have to be porous, or a soakaway has to be provided.