It’s now well into the new year and the residential development scene has got off to a good start again. All this talk about ‘slow down’ certainly hasn’t affected peoples desire to improve rather than move. Building Design Agents are often the first barometer within the building trade of any ups or downs in trends and I certainly haven’t noticed any lessening of work.
Conservatories – lets get it straight once & for all – If you were to ask 10 home owners about the Planning requirements for a conservatory I guarantee 8 out of the 10 would say ‘Conservatories don’t need formal Planning consent’. When you ask them to justify that statement all weird & wonderful terms are stated such as ‘its light weight’ ‘its not made of brick’ ‘you can see through it’ ‘its not a solid structure’ etc.
For the record – MOST CONSERVATORY EXTENSIONS DO REQUIRE FORMAL PLANNING CONSENT in exactly the same criteria as if the extension was a kitchen or dining room extension for example. This urban myth that conservatories are exempt from Planning arose from the original Permitted development rights that were/are attached to some dwellings. Given the relatively modest size of most conservatories it was easy for them to fall under the strict dimensional & volume constraints applied to the 70 or 50 cubic meter Permitted Development rule.
However, what people forget is the fact that most new properties have had their Permitted Development rights removed by the Planners when the estate or dwelling was originally approved which has been the case now for at least 20 years & more and more properties have already been extended in the past ensuring that any permitted Development rights that they may have enjoyed has now been used up. There is also a whole raft of other ‘catch 22’ requirements that can prevent a conservatory being built under Permitted Development that I will not go into here but suffice to say play safe & always assume that your conservatory will require formal Planning and it is just a bonus if it does not require it.
Regretfully this myth that all conservatories are exempt from Planning is often perpetuated by some unscrupulous conservatory suppliers/manufacturers that simply side step the issue or place the onus back onto the client. Any reputable conservatory supplier will assess your particular site circumstances and have the situation resolved at the Council first. Prior to accepting any quote you should first see a sight of the Councils ‘informal pre-application enquiry letter’ from a Case Planning Officer that confirms the Conservatory suppliers opinion. WARNING – If it transpires after the conservatory was built & paid for that formal Planning Permission was required then it is the HOME OWNER THAT IS RESPONSIBLE for rectifying the breach of Planning Control – not your builder. If Planning Consent is denied and then again at appeal then you must remove it at your own cost.
More house sales collapse because of illegally built conservatories than you would ever imagine – the house purchaser simply pulls out of the deal running shy of this problem or not wanting to wait the 2 to 3 months it will take to try and rectify the problem with a retrospective application. The only slight chink of of hope in all this if you do have an illegally built conservatory is the 4 year rule – if you can get away with it for 4 year or more & can prove its age then normally the Planners are unable to insist on its removal or for you to apply for retrospective Planning approval.
Conservatories are normally fully exempt from the Building Regulations provided the glass is to a certain type and standard , it does not exceed 30 square metres & you have dividing doors between the main house & the conservatory. However, even this has a number of other criteria to comply with in order for it to be exempt but it is normally much more straight forward than the Planning issues.
The conclusion to a new conservatory is this – Always request an informal confirmation letter from the Planning Dept. if it your view or your suppliers view that the conservatory will fall under the sites permitted development allowance. Obtaining this confirmation letter can be troublesome at times if you are unable to supply the Case Planning Officer with some drawing details and a copy of the O/S map. Most good conservatory suppliers will have their in house or externally supplied agent to prepare these details for you. Most Planning Departments will not respond with an opinion unless you can lay it out on a plate for them so don’t waste time trying by calling in on them and trying to verbally explain your situation – Always write in with sketch schemes & a marked up O/S plan.