Research conducted by Planning Resource involving a selection of Local Planning Authorities and consultants has identified a relatively ‘modest’ use to date of the new upward extension permitted development (PD) rights.

The government’s expansion of PD rights in the summer received High Court support last week following a judicial review. Six of the new PD rights introduced allow for upward extensions to existing properties, one to expand existing residential properties and the others to create new flats.

Although the government have not indicated how many applications they expect to receive as a consequence of the new rights, the government’s own impact assessment states that all of them would in combination create an estimated 8,600 new homes a year, equating to 717 new units a month.

Additional research undertaken by consultancy Knight Frank last month estimated that new PD rights could deliver up to 173,000 new homes in the country’s biggest cities, with a significant 80% of that figure being built within London.

However, not everyone is so confident that the PD Rights will help to boost housing delivery and stimulate economic growth. According to research undertaken by Planning Resource, seven of England’s busiest Local Planning Authorities had received just 32 prior approval applications for upward extensions, with 11 determined to date. Only one of the determined schemes was approved, amounting to six new flats.

Although the initial sample size is relatively small, if this trend is continued amongst other authority areas then the refusal rate can already be considered high.

Following a recent meeting at Smart Planning to discuss the new PD rights, the general consensus amongst the consultants was that in most cases the new rights require information which is tantamount to a planning application. Therefore, the benefits of the new rights are perhaps not as palpable as first envisaged.

Nonetheless, the Smart Planning team we will continue to monitor the situation as it develops and review case law examples as and when they emerge.

27 November 2020