Planning rules could stall loft conversions

A government planning White Paper has been blasted by the Federation of Master Builders for potentially scuppering two-thirds of planned loft conversions.

While presenting the White Paper to Parliament, communities secretary Ruth Kelly said: “There are parts of the system which can be costly, confusing and inaccessible. Our reforms will make it better focussed, fairer, faster and more accessible.”

But the FMB rubbishes Kelly’s claims and warns the strict restrictions outlined will mean loft conversions will be impossible to build without lengthy bureaucracy.

In a consultation paper attached to the White Paper, the Department of Communities and Local Government outlines restrictions that would leave 95% of loft conversions at the mercy of planning permission.

The small print says no roof extension can protrude forward of any roof plane and a minimum of a metre above the eaves and a metre below the ridge. The rules will also preclude terraces and balconies.

Brian Berry, external affairs director at the FMB, says: “With these strict limits on loft extensions, people will not be able to have enough space to stand up without asking permission.

“This is going to hit the loft conversion industry hard. Most plans will have to go through a costly permission process and two-thirds of them will be rejected.”

Last Friday, the FMB held a crisis meeting to assess what impact this legislation will have on the loft conversion industry. The FMB predicts that companies which provide loft planning, insulation and roof windows will be hit hardest.

Berry adds: “Loft extensions im-prove the quality of housing stock, increase insulation levels and so re-duce carbon emissions, and help maintain sustainable communities by encouraging people to say in their homes rather than move.”