Love Thy Neighbour: Prior Notification for Larger Home Extensions
September 2015

In a bid to increase building work and the economy in 2013, the government created a new policy to allow larger home extensions to be undertaken up until May 2019.

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This allows rear extensions between 4-8 metres for detached houses and 3-6 metres for all other houses, to be approved through Prior Notification to the local authority, using a Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

Prior Notification allows you to undertake a larger home extension under your Permitted Development Rights, and is lower cost and lower risk than submitting a planning application.

However, if you live in a Conservation Area, a listed building, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or another protected area, you may find that your permitted development rights have been reduced or removed, and so changes that you wish to make may require a planning application.

If your property does retain its permitted development rights then Prior Notification can be a simple, cost-effective way of gaining permission for a larger home extension, that would previously have required planning permission.

To build a larger home extension under permitted development you must notify your local authority (Prior Notification), with a description and statement of the works, a proposed site plan, and addresses of your adjoining neighbours (both sides and to the rear). The Local Authority then notifies your neighbours with the above information, allowing them 21 days to comment on the application, and setting the 42-day determination period.

If an objection is raised by a neighbour then a planning officer will look into the proposed development's impact on the neighbour's amenity (e.g. any impact on their garden/ daylight/ privacy) to determine if the development can be allowed.

A large benefit of the Neighbour Consultation Scheme is that if no objections are received in this 21 day period, and the development fulfils the other requirements of Permitted Development (this includes some height and material restrictions for example) then it is automatically approved by the Local Authority.  Therefore it is particularly useful to maintain, begin, or mend a relationship with your neighbours if you wish to build under this process.

Discuss your proposed development with your neighbours as early as possible, to help avoid your project coming as a surprise to them via the local authority's notification. This could be a quick chat over the garden wall, nipping round for a cup of tea with some architectural drawings, or a phone call to talk through the extension.

Architects can help with the design of the works, and to prepare drawings, documents and application for Prior Notification to the local authority.  It is also wise to submit for a Certificate of Lawful Development simultaneously, which is provided by the Local Authority  to show that your Permitted Development is legal, and can often be required during the re-sale of a property.

Your architect can also help talk through what likely neighbourly concerns may arise and how your design addresses these. Understanding and addressing their concerns early  can potentially go a long way to help avoid them raising an objection to the local authority.

Top tips for the Prior Notification Neighbour Consultation Scheme:

- Check that your property is eligible for Permitted Development and Prior Notification for a Larger Home Extension.

- For a larger home extension up to 8 metres (detached) or 6m (all other houses), use Prior Notification to gain approval for this, rather than completing a planning application. Also consider applying for a Certificate of Lawful Development, to aid future re-sale.

- With the help of an architect, get the design, drawings and application ready.

- Equipped with the drawings, discuss the project and proposals with as many of your immediate neighbours as possible; listen to their concerns and discuss with your architect beforehand the merits of the proposal (both for you, and for your neighbours).

- Notify your local authority to initiate the Neighbour Consultation Scheme, and submit for a Certificate of Lawful Development. Whilst there is no Local Authority fee associated with the notification for a larger home extension, there is usually a fee of £86.00 for applying for a Certificate of Lawful Development.

- Once approved, ensure that you complete your development on or before 30th May 2019. 

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