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loft extension

 

loft extension

Loft Conversion Planning Permision

Do I need Planning Permission?

sbsMany loft conversions do not need planning permission at all. However, you should obtain advice as you may need it in your case. Some examples of those which require planning permission are

  • if the loft conversion changes the outside appearance of your property
  • if the new room(s) will constitute a change of use, for instance an office
  • if the area exceeds 50m²
  • if the loft is converted into more than two habitable rooms
  • if you live in a conservation area

sbsAn architect will be able to advise you on whether you need planning permission, or you could contact your Local Authority yourself. If you need to apply for planning permission the Planning Department will require several copies of your drawings and a fee. Then your planning application will be placed on the Planning Register ( which is available for members of the public to view) and your application will be published in the local press. You should receive a decision from the Planning Department

Planning Permission

sbsLocal Authorities are concerned with the visual aspect of any development, and how appropriate is its intended use. Any person can make the planning application even if they do not own the land or have any interest in the land. A notice of the application will be published in the local Press and notices displayed at the property. Neighbours and anybody with an opinion are able to view the plans and make comments which the Local Authority will have to take into account.
The Local Authority will have a written policy which contains guidelines for what sort of buildings may be built in any area and, possibly, also define the building style. Whether an application is approved or refused will depend largely on the local guidelines.

The Authority's Highway Department will become involved where the application requires vehicle access or increased road traffic.

It is general government policy that development is permitted unless there are good reasons to refuse Planning Permission. Planning Permission is officially granted by a Planning Committee, (elected members of the council), which is normally open to the public. However; the Council Officers (non-elected, paid employees of the Council) will make recommendations to the committee; if the matter is routine, the committee will normally accept the official's recommendations. It is always worth consulting the officials before an application is made and again before the application goes to the committee; it is then often possible to make small last minute changes to the plans so that they will be accepted.

Even if permission is refused, there is a right of appeal - first to the council, and then to the Secretary of State. While probably not worth while for a small application, big developers have an army of specialists they call upon so that they finally get their wishes, even if they have to make some modifications.

Where Planning Permission is given for a new building or alteration, Building Regulation approval is normally also required within eight weeks, or if it will take longer they should write to you and and ask for an extension of time.

There are two basic types of loft conversions - a "roofline" conversion, and a "dormer" conversion with many variations of the latter.

"Roofline" loft conversions

sbsWith this type of conversion, we would create a room/rooms within the existing shape of the roof at present using Velux windows for light and ventilation. With this type of conversion, we would not extend or alter the existing shape of the roof at present.

Normally, planning permission is not required for this type of conversion. However, a full set of Architect's plans would be necessary along with the designs of a Structural Engineer and subsequent calculations to verify designs. This will be necessary to justify all current building regulations.

However, if your property is in a conservation area, there may be restrictions on the design and shape of the Velux windows to be installed. A planning advisor from Luxus Lofts will be more than happy to identify whether your property is in a conservation area or not.

"Dormer" loft conversions

sbsDormer's have been referred to in many different ways, Dormer windows, Dormer extensions, roof extensions, attic extensions.

A brief description of a Dormer would be an extension of an existing roof shape. Consider a most typical terraced property/town house where the roof would start at the gutters at the front of the house rising to the Apex, the ridge in the centre of the house, then falling again down to the gutters at the back of the house. This most typical roof shape does not usually produce a substantial habitable room, unless the house is unusually large. So with this type of roof structure, it would be advisable to extend the roof and create a Dormer (usually to the rear of the property.)

The size, shape and general design of this or any other Dormer can vary greatly. This type of conversion may also not require planning permission. Householders have what is known as a permitted development allowance. This permitted development allowance is usually measured in cubic metres. The amount allowed (cubic metres) varies from property to property. Generally, the allowance would be between 50 and 70 cubic metres or 20% of the overall volume of the property.

Please note, there are further guidelines whilst trying to identify if your project would be allowed under permitted development rights. These are;

  • No part of the new structure must rise any higher than the existing highest part of the roof at present (usually the ridge line.)
  • Looking down on a plan, no part of this new structure must exceed the current floor plan boundary.
  • The property must not be in a conservation area.

Again, as per roof line conversions, even if planning permission is not required, Architect's plans along with Structural Engineers calculations will be necessary to conform and to comply with the current building regulations.

Planning permission

sbsPlanning permission involving the construction of a loft conversion is dealt with by the Local Authorities Planning Department.

Firstly, a house is afforded a certain allowance by the Local Authority to be extended. On a semi-detached property, 70cubic metres is the Permitted Development Allowance allowed before planning permission must be obtained and the figure is 50cu.m on a terraced property. For a loft conversion, the size of the conversion that extends outside of the original roof line can only amount to 50cu.m on a semi-detached property and 40cu.m on a terraced property. Once this figure has been exceeded and there is still more volume required then planning permission must be obtained. Secondly, if the property has already been extended usually on the ground floor, then the volume of this has to be calculated and subtracted from the relevant permitted development allowance of the property.

Here is an example: If a terraced property has been extended on the ground floor and the volume of the extension has taken up 40cu.m then there will be 10cu.m of Permitted Development left which can be used for the loft conversion. However, 10cu.m when put towards a rear dormer conversion would not be enough to avoid having to apply for planning permission. However if the ground floor extension is relatively small and only takes up 20cu.m then the remainder of P.D which would be left to use on the loft conversion would be 30cu.m, usually enough volume to still be within the Permitted Development allowance. This is a brief example and obviously all properties differ and that’s why, Apex Loft Conversions on their initial survey can measure and calculate the relevant volume of a client’s property and undertake all relevant planning permission and building regulation applications on their behalf.

In most planning applications for a rear dormer on a terraced property, the local authority will gsbsrant the request as the dormer isn’t seen to alter the roofline on the front elevation of the house. However they will ask for the dormer to be reduced in size, generally pulling in the cheeks by 1 metre either side and also the front of the dormer by the same. This is only a guideline as different authorities may have different planning policies.

On a semi-detached property that requires a hip to gable conversion for example, then it is important that the gable end falls within the property’s P.D as most local authorities reject planning applications that alter the roofline of a street especially if a pair of semi-detached houses have been altered where one hip end is left as original and the other has been converted and a gable end is constructed. Again this is most local authority’s policy i.e. Enfield, Barnet and Hertsmere. An appeal process is an option if planning permission is refused and Apex Loft Conversions take full control of this process within their price structure.

Party Wall Act 1996

The Act provides a Building Owner, who wishes to carry out various sorts of work to an existing party wall, with additional rights going beyond ordinary common law rights.
The most commonly used rights are:

  • to cut into a wall to take the bearing of a beam (for example for a loft conversion), or to insert a damp proof course all the way through the wall
  • to raise the height of the wall and/or increase the thickness of the party wall and, if necessary, cut off any projections which prevent you from doing so.
  • to demolish and rebuild the party wall
  • to underpin the whole thickness of a party wall
  • to underpin the whole thickness of a party wall
  • to protect two adjoining walls by putting a flashing from the higher over the lower, even where this requires cutting into an Adjoining Owner's independent building.

sbsIf you intend to carry out any of the works mentioned, you must inform all Adjoining Owners . You must not even cut into your own side of the wall without telling the Adjoining Owners of your intentions.

The Act contains no enforcement procedures for failure to serve a notice. However, if you start work without having first given notice in the proper way, Adjoining Owners may seek to stop your work through a court injunction or seek other legal redress.

An Adjoining Owner cannot stop someone from exercising the rights given to them by the Act, but may be able to influence how and at what times the work is done.

The Act also says that a Building Owner must not cause unnecessary inconvenience. This is taken to mean inconvenience over and above that which will inevitably occur when such works are properly undertaken.

The Building Owner must provide temporary protection for adjacent buildings and property where necessary. The Building Owner is responsible for making good any damage caused by the works or must make payment in lieu of making good if the Adjoining Owner requests it.

sbsIt is obviously best to discuss your planned work fully with the Adjoining Owners before you (or your professional adviser on your behalf) give notice, in writing, about what you plan to do. If you have already ironed out possible snags with your neighbours, this should mean that they will readily give consent in response to your notice. You do not need to appoint a professional adviser to give the notice on your behalf.

Whilst there is no official form for giving notice under the Act, your notice must include the following details:

  • your own name and address (joint owners must all be named, e.g. Mr A & Mrs B Owner)
  • the address of the building to be worked on (this may be different from your main or current address)
  • a full description of what you propose to do (it may be helpful to include plans but you must still describe the works)
  • when you propose to start (which must not be before the relevant notice period has elapsed).

The notice should be dated and it is advisable to include a clear statement that it is a notice under the provisions of the Act. You may deliver the notice to the Adjoining Owner(s) in person or send it by post. Where the neighbouring property is empty or the owner is not known, you may address the notice to "The Owner", adding the address of the premises, and fix it to a conspicuous part of the premises.You do not need to tell the local authority about your notice. The notice should be served two months before the planned starting date for work to the party wall. The Adjoining Owner may agree to allow works to start earlier but is not obliged to even when agreement on the works is reached. The notice is only valid for a year, so do not serve it too long before you wish to start. Agreements must always be put in writing.

sbsIf you cannot reach agreement with the Adjoining Owners, the next best thing is to agree with them on appointing what the Act calls an "Agreed Surveyor" to draw up an "Award". The Agreed Surveyor should NOT be the same person that you intend to employ or have already engaged to supervise your building work . Alternatively, each owner can appoint a surveyor to draw up the award together. The two appointed surveyors will select a third surveyor (who would be called in only if the two appointed surveyors cannot agree).

In all cases, surveyors appointed under the dispute resolution procedure of the Act must consider the interests and rights of both owners and draw up an award impartially. Their duty is to resolve matters in dispute in a fair and practical way. Where separate surveyors are sbsappointed by each owner, the surveyors must liaise with their appointing owners and put forward the respective owners' preferred outcome. However, the surveyors do not act as advocates for the respective owners. They must always act within their statutory jurisdiction and jointly prepare a fair and impartial award. The surveyor (or surveyors) will prepare an "award" (also known as a "party wall award"). This is a document which:

  • sets out the work that will be carried out
  • says when and how the work is to be carried out (for example, not at weekends if the buildings are domestic properties)
  • specifies any additional work required (for example necessary protection to prevent damage)
  • often contains a record of the condition of the adjoining property before the work begins (so that any damage to the adjoining land or buildings can be properly attributed and made good)
  • allows access for the surveyor(s) to inspect the works while they're going on (to see that they are in accordance with the award). Below is an example of a letter that could be served on an adjoining neighbour:

Example letter - Party Structure Notice

To Adjoining Owner
Of Adjoining Owner's main address
Date
Dear title
The Party Wall etc Act 1996

Notice of proposed works - Party Structure Notice.

As the owner/s of Building Owner's building which is adjacent to your premises at Adjoining Owner's building I/we Building Owner of Building Owner's main address notify you that in accordance with our rights under section 2 of the Party Wall etc Act 1996 I/we intend to carry out building works.

The proposed works are: description of the work
I/we intend to start works on date of works if you want to start within the 2 month notice period add - or on the earlier date of [date] with your written agreement
If you are content for the works to go ahead as proposed please complete, sign and return the attached letter within 14 days of receiving this letter.
If you do not confirm in writing that you are content for the work to go ahead as proposed we will be 'in dispute' under the Act.
In the event of any dispute between us under the Act, would you be willing to agree to the appointment of an 'Agreed Surveyor'?
If the answer is yes I suggest using Agreed Surveyor's name but would be happy to receive your alternative proposal.
If the answer is no, please let me know whom you would appoint as your surveyor.
Yours sincerely
Building Owner's signature/s