In its attempts to stimulate the economy, the Government has recently temporarily extended permitted development rights for homeowners, to allow extensions to be built without planning permission.
Between 30 May 2013 and 30 May 2016, householders will be able to build larger single-storey extensions under rights of permitted development through the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.
On the face of it, it seems a positive and well-intentioned move by the Government. But as is often the case when legislation is introduced, it also brings with it some fresh problems.
Instead of obtaining planning permission before proceeding with larger extensions, homeowners will be required to go through a neighbour consultation process. However, as the Local Authority will still have to decide whether works can proceed without planning, it seems this process will be far from quick or straightforward.
Cause for confusion?
In the future though, how will a seller show whether works carried out were lawful or not? What if the dates of these works are lost over time? And how happy will lenders and conveyancers be, several years on, to rely on this legislation to protect future purchasers?
At this stage, the answers to these questions are unknown. It may be that the scheme won't cause any problems years from now, but more likely, it will end up adding an element of doubt and confusion to the conveyancing process
Currently, our Lack of Consent policies offer purchasers protection from the risk of Local Authority enforcement action, relating to alterations completed without planning permission or the relevant consent.
We will continue to offer this cover for works carried out before the three year period began, but if there is any question over work that may have been completed under the temporary legislation, we will be happy to provide cover for those situations too.