For homeowners in England, planning permission will no longer be needed for certain additions to properties. Extensions to terraced and semi-detached homes can be up to 6m long, while detached houses will be able to add even larger structures, up to 8m long.
While neighbours will still be consulted and can raise objections to extensions, it is hoped the new law will save homeowners months of stress while waiting for approval to extend their property.
Under the new rules – which have been in temporarily in effect for since 2013 and have allowed 110,000 people to extend their home without planning permission - homeowners will still need to notify the council of the building work beforehand, and council officials will inform the neighbours.
If concerns are raised, the council decides if the extension is likely to harm the character or enjoyment of the area, and could block the plans.
Kit Malthouse, the Housing minister, said the change in England means "families can grow without being forced to move … these measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape."
The news has not been received well, however, by the Local Government Association, which represents UK local councils. While acknowledging the relaxed rules were popular with homeowners, a planning spokesman said it meant councils had little opportunity to consider the impact of extensions on their local area.
He recommended an independent review be carried to understand the impact of the new rules, “both on neighbouring residents and businesses, and also the capacity of local planning department”.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, a full planning application for rear extensions more than 3m or 4m long will continue to be required, which places the design and impact of the building under more scrutiny.