Less red tape for home owners

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With the property market still sluggish in many parts of Scotland, homeowners are tending to look at improving and extending the house they are in rather than moving.

The Scottish Government recently announced changes that will cut down on red tape by ending the requirement to go through local authority planning permission processes for several more minor home improvements. These changes to what are known as Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) will came into force from February 6, 2012.

Generally, it means that larger extensions and buildings in the garden will not need to go to planners and certain roof alterations, fences and walls will also be excluded from controls.

Theresa Hunt, a senior associate in the Planning Division at leading legal practice, Paull & Williamsons, explained: “The changes reflect the growing trend for summer houses, decking and other home improvements which Scottish Ministers don’t want Planning Authorities to have to spend time considering, when they don’t really impact on the overall area. “Removing these smaller scale developments from the system will free up more time for planners to process larger and more complex applications more quickly – Aberdeen City and Shire dealt with 2640 householder applications in 2010/11 so it is easy to see the benefits.

”A key change has been to relax controls over development which will not affect the principal elevation of a house. Restrictions on developments within 20metres of a road have also been relaxed.”

House extensions can now cover up to 50% of the garden and result in the enlarged house covering up to twice the area covered by the original house.

The new order will also allow minor improvements to flats for the first time. It will be possible to put up satellite dishes on flats without falling foul of the local planning authorities.

For more information and advice, contact a planning law specialist.