This document highlights some of the loopholes within Part 1 of the GPDO.
10. The unlimited front extension
Why is this possible … ?
• It’s simply a mistake in the drafting of the legislation. The legislation specifies limits for side extensions (which are ruled out on Article 1(5) land) and specifies limits for rear extensions. It’s clear from the background consultation documents that the intention was to rule out front extensions altogether. However, the wording of the legislation only rules out front extensions where the principal elevation fronts a highway. It appears that central government simply didn’t think of the scenario where the principal elevation doesn’t front a highway – for example on a rural property which either faces away from the highway or is significantly set-back from the highway.
Is there really no limit to the size of such front extensions … ?
• Well, they must remain within the “curtilage” of the property, they can’t result in more than 50% of the original garden being covered by buildings, and their eaves and ridge-line can’t be higher than the eaves and ridge-line of the main building.
• However, these are really only secondary restrictions. For many properties where the principal elevation doesn’t front a highway, the legislation does not impose any meaningful restriction on the size of a front extension. For example, in the appeal decision APP/Y3615/X/10/2142515, which was allowed on 27/04/2011, the proposed front extension had forward projection 14m and would more than triple the footprint of the original house!
• It should also be noted that the DCLG “Technical Guidance” (August 2010, updated January 2013) makes it clear that if the roof of such a front extension doesn’t contain a dormer window, then the volume of this roof is not restricted by Class B (e.g. it’s not restricted by the 40m3 and 50m3 volume limits). This introduces the significant contradiction that on Article 1(5) land, even though it’s not possible to erect any form of Class B roof extension, it’s possible to attach a massive additional roof structure to the main front roof slope (as shown in the example on the previous page).
When was this mistake first recognised … ?
• This was one of a number of issues that I emailed to DCLG in November 2008, 1 month after the new legislation came into force.
• The DCLG “Informal Views from Communities and Local Government”, which was published in December 2008, recognised this issue. However, this document appeared to downplay the issue (rather than acknowledge that a mistake had been made) by stating that “development to a principal
elevation that does not front a highway would be subject to the eaves height limit and the overall 50% limit on development within the curtilage”.
• This loophole has also been highlighted by a number of appeal decisions which have been allowed by government Inspectors.
What is being done to address this loophole … ?
• As of September 2012, this loophole was first recognised almost 4 years ago, and has still not been addressed.
9. Massive outbuildings
What are the dimensions and materials of the outbuilding shown on the previous page … ?
• The example shown has width 9.0m x length 17.5m = footprint 157.5m2. It has a flat roof at height 2.5m. Its materials can be anything.
Can an outbuilding this large really be built under permitted development … ?
• Yes, so long as the outbuilding would be “required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such”. A number of appeal
decisions have confirmed that an outbuilding to enclose a swimming pool can be as large as (or larger than) the outbuilding shown on the previous
page. For example, in the appeal decision APP/H1515/X/10/2124574, which was allowed on 19/11/2010, the proposed outbuilding had width 10.5m
x length 30.0m = footprint 315m2, which was exactly twice the footprint of the example shown on the previous page.
What about the proximity of the outbuilding to the main house … ?
• The previous version of the legislation required outbuildings to be situated at least 5m away from the main house. This 5m requirement was
removed from the current version of the legislation, and as a result there now appears to be no limit as to how close an outbuilding can be situated
to the main house. For example, in the appeal decision APP/Q5300/X/10/2125856, which was allowed on 14/12/2010, the Inspector concluded that
an outbuilding situated just 2.5cm away from the main house was permitted development. This introduces the significant contradiction that if a
structure is attached to the rear wall of a terrace property then its rearward projection is limited to 3m to protect neighbour amenity, and yet if a
structure is slightly detached from the rear wall (e.g. by 2.5cm), then it can project rearward by (say) 30m regardless of neighbour amenity.
What is the background as to why such large outbuildings are still allowed … ?
• The DCLG “Householder Development Consents Review” (May 2007) was highly critical of large outbuildings. For example, on page 34, it showed
an illustration of a large outbuilding (which was significantly smaller than the example on the previous page), and stated that “the fact that a
householder could construct such a large outbuilding on a relatively modest garden without needing planning permission is a cause for concern”.
This government review paper recommended that the proposed new legislation should limit outbuildings to a maximum footprint of 30m2 for
properties with a garden greater than 100m2, and 20m3 for properties with a garden smaller than 100m2.
• Following the above recommendation, the DCLG “Consultation Paper 2” (May 2007) undertook a public consultation for the proposed new
legislation, in which the section on outbuildings was based upon these proposed 30m2 and 20m2 maximum footprints. The results of this public
consultation are contained in the DCLG “Summary of Responses to Consultation” (November 2007), which stated that, in relation to the proposed
30m2 and 20m2 maximum footprints, “a mixed response to this proposal has been received, with a balance of agreement in favour”.
• However, when the new legislation was introduced, it did not contain the proposed 30m2 and 20m2 maximum footprints. The government letter
(dated 10/09/2008) that introduced the legislation stated that this was because “this restriction could have created a liability for compensation being
payable by a local authority if they subsequently turned down … an application for something that had previously been permitted development”.
• In my view, this was an unjustifiable reason to not correct something that was wrong. Even worse, the new legislation was made more permissive
than before, by removing the 5m separation requirement, and by removing the previous restriction against massive outbuildings on Article 1(5) land.