It’s been a sort of unwritten principle of planning that replacement dwellings were not very contentious, at least in principle. Planners would set limits on any increase in size, which caused angst for lots of people wanting to replace a clapped out 1930s bungalow with a six-bedroom, four-storey gin palace, but the principle that you could knock down your home and replace it with something more to your choosing was never in doubt.
No more. Various local authorities are now taking a view that if your plot is of sufficient size, then you will have to replace your home with more than one – usually three, as this also triggers an additional requirement for at least one to be affordable.
This new state of affairs came to light when some old friends asked my advice about buying a 1930s bungalow with a view to replacing it. They didn’t even want to increase the footprint – they were perfectly happy with the size of the existing bungalow – but they wanted a building that wasn’t mostly asbestos, and one that was properly insulated. They even quite liked the design of the existing house and were perfectly happy to build something like a replica. What they really coveted was the large garden.
Yet their initial contact with the local planners suggested that they wouldn’t be able to do this because the garden was sufficiently large to trigger the affordable housing quota, and that if they wanted to rebuild, they would have to build two private homes plus an affordable one. Which, of course, they don’t want to do.
What a strange state of affairs? They are free to buy the house as is, and to enjoy the garden. They can improve it, extend it even, but they can’t rebuild it without losing the garden.
Has anybody else come across this policy? Any suggestions on how to counter it?