Home extensions to be fast-tracked as part of new planning rules
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The new laws, which include changes to the planning process for knocking down former shops, are designed to speed up the building of new homes, said Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick.
Due to come into effect by September, the rule shake-up will mean full planning applications will not be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings as homes, allowing commercial and retail properties to be quickly repurposed, according to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.
Homeowners will also be able to add up to two additional storeys to their home, to create new homes or more living space for growing families, through a fast track approval process - although there will be a requirement to "carefully consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension", said the department.
Mr Jenrick said: "We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.
"These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities.
"It will mean that families can add up to two storeys to their home, providing much needed additional space for children or elderly relatives as their household grows."
The Cabinet minister said he hoped the change in the rules would reduce pressure to build on greenfield sites and deliver more homes that fit the character of their local area while also eliminating red tape.
Pubs, libraries, village shops and other buildings deemed essential to communities by ministers will not be covered by the loosening of the restrictions.