"Automatic" permissions as part of planning reforms, but what does that mean to you?

In early August, the UK government announced a new “automatic” permission as part of a new planning reform. This change will make it easier for developers to build new homes and commercial buildings throughout the UK. Boris Johnson vowed to "build, build, build" to help Britain bounce back from the pandemic, promising a £5bn fund to be put towards building new homes and infrastructure.

Many have not taken to the news well, as concerns over the new proposals will see rushed plans approved and could compromise on the quality of the new houses built. Also, reducing the timelines might see the reduction in local communities won't have the opportunity to voice their opinions and be sidelined in the process.

However, the UK government says they’ll create thousands of new jobs in construction & architecture. Plus they’ll allow for ease of construction not just on homes but on new local services too, like hospitals, schools & road improvements.

As part of the new system, land will be split into 3 categories, "growth, renewal & protection”. Currently, residents will be asked to offer their opinion about which land should be earmarked for each category, before councils make their final decision. Planning would then be "automatically secured" for areas categorised for growth. Some development would be allowed in “renewal” areas but it would be restricted in “protection” zones.

So what does this mean to you?

If you currently live in a flat, then nothing will change. Any changes you make to your flat affect the communal building, so you already have to get consent from your neighbours below or above (or both!) plus your freeholder. So basically, you’ll still need to apply for any changes through the normal building permissions as before.

If you are looking to build your own home from the ground up, then this reform could have a big impact on you. It’ll be easier now to build than before. Existing homeowners may be able to add 2 storeys to a detached property without needing additional planning permission, plus commercial owners will find it easier to change existing properties into residential accommodation.

However, before you set off and start building that extra floor, always check with your local council if your home has any prerequisites. From “listed buildings” to conservation areas, depending on where your home is, there could be some underlying restrictions to adhere to first.