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Latest News: FMB Lobby Planning White Paper

FMB Lobby Planning White Paper

The Construction supports Federation of Master Builders lobby on Planning White Paper

The Construction Centre today announced its support of the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) lobby against the government regarding the proposals laid out in Mays planning white paper, affecting loft conversions and roof extensions.

The FMB claims the white paper which promoted a lift in planning restrictions for minor home improvements particularly concerning loft conversions, will in fact negatively impact the building trade and create more pressure on local government than suggested.

The furore surrounds the “low impact” clause in the white paper, which states that “developments considered to have more than a low impact on the wider neighbourhood and/or street scene would require specific planning permission from the local planning authority.” The FMB maintains that this will effectively serve to wipe out loft conversions throughout the UK as the conditions of approval will prove too costly and lengthy to warrant the project. They estimate that under the current proposals, ninety five percent of householders planning a loft conversion will now need specific planning permission whereas currently most conversions do not need it.

The Construction Centre highlighted this issue in its May press release regarding the planning white paper and has stated it is in full support of the FMB lobby on the subject. Richard Simmons, Managing Director at The Construction Centre said “Planning Departments throughout the UK are already overwhelmed with work and lack of resources, the last thing they need is more pressure. The Government should look at the wider picture as to how their proposals affect both the house owner and builder. The FMB is right to challenge the Government on this issue and should be heard; common sense needs to prevail here on several levels.”

Brian Berry, FMB External Affairs Director also commented saying “Loft conversions provide great benefits obviously to the owners but also the wider community” he continued “Soaring stamp duty and other house-buying costs have driven the recent trend for owners to improve rather than move and loft conversions are one of the most popular methods of gaining extra living space without increasing the footprint of a building. By applying the impact test to front or side roof extensions and to rear roof extensions that are less than one metre from eaves, ridges, verges or party walls, the proposal effectively wipes out all loft conversions in built up urban areas.”

It is the wording regarding the one metre rule which the FMB is hoping to change and due to extensive publicity, talks have already taken place with the Department of Communities and Local Government to address the issue. Initial feedback has been positive although no confirmation of an amendment has yet been agreed.

The Construction Centre also highlighted that the planning white paper proposals, which will limit the ability to convert loft spaces also seem to contradict the Governments sustainability and co2 targets. Brian Berry (FMB) agreed “They improve the quality of the housing stock; increase insulation levels; thereby reducing carbon emissions; increase fire safety and help maintain sustainable communities by encouraging people to stay put.” He said that the Government should be positively encouraging loft conversions and roof extensions in order to reap the environmental benefits and not put conditions in place to discourage this kind of home improvement.

Without a change in the current proposals it would seem that house owners and builders will suffer as a result. People who can’t afford to buy a larger property look to loft conversions as a way of resolving space issues. However if planning is required in nearly all instances, these projects will certainly cost much more in time and money to complete and as a result the likelihood is that the projects will not be undertaken at all.

The Construction Centre was in full agreement with the FMB that if changes are not made to the planning white paper, the potential consequences would ultimately have a serious and damaging affect on builders’ trade.

More information can be found at
Federation of Master Builders

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