Moving on up - How Planning for the Future introduces new rules for encouraging building upwards

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07 October, 2020

The imaginatively named Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2020 came into effect on 31 August 2020 and is the second phase of the Government's permitted development rights relating to upward extensions.

The government stated that it would introduce new tools to support communities to densify and make best use of their underutilised brownfield land including introducing new rules to encourage building upwards and consulting on a new permitted development rights (PDR - that is the right to develop land without the need for a full planning decision) to allow vacant commercial buildings, industrial buildings and residential blocks to be demolished and replaced with well-designed new residential units which meet natural light standards.

Firstly, there is now the PDR right to extend an existing home: Class AA allows for the enlargement of a dwelling-house by construction of additional storeys.

The new PD right allows most existing houses to be extended upwards to provide additional living space by constructing additional storeys, subject to prior approval. This right could be to provide more space for growing families, or to accommodate elderly relatives, without having to move house for instance.

The new Class AA (enlargement of a dwelling-house by construction of additional storeys) amends Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 and allows:

  • upwards extensions of up to two additional storeys on the topmost storey of a detached house, where the existing house consists of two storeys or more above ground level; or
  • one additional storey above ground level on a detached house of one storey.
  • In a terrace of 2 or more houses (which includes semi-detached houses) it also allows the construction of up to 2 additional storeys on the topmost storey of a house of 2 storeys or more, or
  • 1 additional storey on a house of 1 storey above ground level.
  • Existing accommodation in the basement or roof space of an existing house which includes a loft extension is not considered as a storey for the purposes of this PD right and the additional storeys must be built in the principal part of the house.
  • The right applies to houses built after 1 July 1948 and before 28 October 2018. Engineering operations necessary for the construction of the additional storeys are allowed.

Secondly new PDR changes for the construction of new homes have been introduced Classes AA, AB, AC and AD of Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the 2015 Order which in summary allow for:-

  • The construction of up to 2 storey on top of existing freestanding buildings of 3 storeys or more (Class AA)
  • The construction on top of terrace building or terrace housing (or some commercial building) (AB and AC)
  • The construction on top of existing detached property (class AD)


The rules don't apply in conservation areas, national parks etc, and the developer is still required to seek approval from the local authority who will in turn notify adjacent property owners and other statutory undertakers. The local authority must respond with a decision within 8 weeks.

While this pre-approval may be closer to a planning application than would be preferred, the PD route to development does offer a step away from possible section 106 Agreement contributions or affordable housing requirements associated with the larger planning requirements.

The government are continuing to press on with streamlining the planning system, support economic recovery from COVID-19 by encouraging development, and while there are aspects to consider in detail, it provides developers and property professionals with opportunities to innovate.

For more information contact Matthew Jones in our Construction & Infrastructure department via email or phone on 01254 222316. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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