Planning Permission

Posted March 18, 2019

Replacement Dwelling : A Strategy to Achieve Planning Permission 

The Background 

This article discusses a recent planning consent in South Gloucestershire that MAKE obtained on behalf of one of our Clients. The Client had purchased an unremarkable cottage outside the settlement boundary with a view to either converting or demolishing and building anew. It quickly became apparent that the existing dwelling was not fit for habitation and so the strategy was taken to create a new dwelling on the site. 

The Conundrum 

Local Authority Planning Departments normally have arbitrary rules with regards to replacement dwellings, in part as a strategy to stop relatively rural areas with modest cottages being replaced with large dwellings which would be out of keeping with their settings. However, considering that most cottages are less than 100 sqm and most modern family homes are approximately 250sqm, while upper homes start at 500sqm, there is some consternation as to how much is too much. 

Many Local Authorities set the threshold for redevelopment of existing dwellings at 130% of the gross external area of the original dwelling. Some Local Authorities go even further and take this plan measurement and extrapolate it to a volumetric calculation as well. Most if not all will then set to create a condition to the permission such that all future permitted development rights are extinguished. 

By way of an example, if the floor plans of our theoretical cottage measure 100sqm total, the maximum replacement dwelling which is permissible is 130sqm total. In reality this additional floor space would equate to an extra bedroom, bathroom, and an airing cupboard. Hardly palatial by anyone’s standards! 

Our Strategy 

In order to create the modern family home which our Client had always dreamt of MAKE devised a strategy whereby a series of permitted development applications were first made to the Local Authority in order to establish a principle of development on the site. Permitted Development rights for a detached property sited centrally within its plot can be quite generous. 

It is important to note the era in which the property was built and if and when any subsequent extensions were added to the property. A quirk of planning law sets the original dwelling as the dwelling as it stood on or before 1945. This date is only significant as it is when the modern planning legislation was enacted and under which all development today takes its legality. 

In our Client’s case their cottage dated from the Eighteenth Century and had been periodically extended up until the early Twentieth Century before 1945. This meant that these extensions counted as the original house. We were able to establish and date the property by the title deeds and by purchasing historic maps of the site. This information was submitted with our application as supporting documents. 

Our strategy in this specific case was to apply for a two-storey side extension and a series of outbuildings which could be justified as incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling. Not uses which are ancillary to the main dwelling or not permitted development. As a quick overview incidental uses are those which could not take place without the host dwelling – such as bowling lanes, swimming pools, games rooms, art studios. Ancillary uses are those which are subservient but mimic those uses of a host dwelling e.g. an additional bedroom and bathroom. 

Further Strategies for additional floor space 

Once the full scheme has been approved, if the floor space requirements still do not meet the brief the final strategy is to apply for a basement level. This will add an additional 8 weeks to the process but could gain an extra 30-50%% of the total approved floor space. Modern basements can be full of natural light, bright and airy and with the use of lightwells can include additional bedrooms and are well suited to rooms not requiring natural light such as games rooms, store rooms and utility rooms, freeing up above ground floor space for more habitable uses. It is worth noting that basements are extremely costly as they need to be both insulated and waterproofed that require specialist ground working firms. As such they are usually a last resort if strategies for above ground development has been expended. 

A Typical Planning Timescale

The schedule below sets out the typical timescales in order to achieve the dream. In some cases, where the scheme is considered contentious, the planning authority may request additional time to determine the application. As such these timescales are considered in the industry as minimum timescales. In addition to the planning timescales, a reasonable period of time is required to undertake survey procurement and the design process. This normally takes a further 12 weeks. 

Several Concurrent Applications for Permitted Development  :   8 

Full Application for the Replacement Dwelling :                             8 

Full Application for the Replacement Dwelling with Basement :   8 

                                                                                    Total (Weeks) : 24 

The total amount of time required to appoint the design team and gain planning permission would equate to 36 weeks, which is just over 8 months. Whilst this may seem like a convoluted and overly long period, this process maximises the probability achieve your dreams. We often have to remind eager clients that rushing the process can lead to adverse results. Ultimately, what is an extra couple of months wait for a home you may spend a lifetime creating many happy memories? The image below shows the final approved scheme which is worlds apart from the humble uninspiring cottage shown at the beginning of the article! 

In Conclusion 

Our proven strategy utilising permitted development rights in advance of the replacement dwelling application has given our Client the house they didn’t think was possible. Every case is different with a different set of parameters. Early engagement with MAKE will help to devise the best strategy for your project, tailored to your individual needs.