Interesting news for home improvers

WITH the property market still sluggish in many parts of Scotland, homeowners are tending to look at improving and extending the house they are in rather than moving.

The Scottish Government recently announced changes under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2011 that will cut down on red tape by ending the requirement to go through local authority planning permission processes for several more minor home improvements.

These changes to what are known as Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) came into force from February 6.

Generally, it means that larger extensions and buildings in the garden will not need to go to planners and certain roof alterations, fences and walls will also be excluded from controls.

Theresa Hunt, a senior associate in the planning division at a leading legal practice, Paull & Williamsons, explained to the Review: “The changes reflect the growing trend for summer houses, decking and other home improvements which Scottish Ministers don’t want planning authorities to have to spend time considering, when they don’t really impact on the overall area.

“Removing these smaller scale developments from the system will free up more time for planners to process larger and more complex applications more quickly.”

Theresa said that in the area where they are most active, Aberdeen City and Shire dealt with 2,640 householder applications in 2010/11 so it would be easy to see the benefits.

She continued: “A key change has been to relax controls over development which will not affect the principal elevation of a house.

“Restrictions on developments within 20 metres of a road have also been relaxed.”

Relaxations which will be of particular interest to home-owners looking to improve their properties are:

* House extensions can now cover up to 50 per cent of the garden and result in the enlarged house covering up to twice the area covered by the original house;

* There has been relaxation on the erection of porches and access ramps;

* Summerhouses or sheds can now cover up to 50 per cent of the garden area;

* Raised decking can be erected up to 0.5 metres off the ground.

The new order will also allow minor improvements to flats for the first time

It will be possible to put up satellite dishes on flats without falling foul of the local planning authorities.

Theresa added: “We do need to make clear that many of the new consents, or PDRs, do not apply to conservation areas and listed buildings where there is a higher standard of design, so planning permission and other consents will still be required for works which may be permitted elsewhere.

“There are also different restrictions which apply to terraced and detached houses.

“While the changes will be widely welcomed, it is still a complicated area and homeowners need to check thoroughly in advance and seek expert advice if in any doubt, as carrying out work without appropriate consent will cause problems if they subsequently try to sell the property.”

For more information and advice, contact a planning law specialist for peace of mind.

The Review understands that whilst planning regulations have been relaxed, it is still necessary to obtain a building warrant before work can by undertaken.

And this is can be obtained only from your local council.

Also, various criteria will still have to be met for development to qualify under the new permitted development rights.

Accordingly, you should always consult your local planning authority before undertaking any development.