Jenrick says details on new upwards home extension 'freedom' to be published 'shortly'

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has revealed that the government is "publishing details shortly" of its proposals to relax planning laws to make it easier for homeowners to add additional storeys to their properties.

Jenrick was replying to a Twitter post on Saturday by architect Robert Kwolek, a fellow at the Create Streets social enterprise, saying he hoped to see more buildings gaining additional storeys via permitted development (PD) rights.

Jenrick wrote: "We’re changing the law so you have the freedom to add additional storeys to your home. We’ll be publishing details shortly."

The government has been floating proposals to allow upwards extensions through the fast-track PD regime since 2015 but has encountered stiff resistance.

In a statement to Parliament last March, Jenrick’s predecessor James Brokenshire said the government was pressing ahead with a PD right to extend upwards on some commercial and residential buildings.

It was one of a series of measures for reforming the PD regime, which the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had consulted on in late 2018.

Jenrick confirmed at the Conservative Party Conference last autumn that the government was still planning to carry out the move.

Later speaking at a fringe event at the conference, Jenrick said this would allow homeowners to add up to two storeys to their property.

At the time, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said the move would "support housing delivery and boost density by allowing certain existing buildings to be extended upwards to create new homes".

And The Sun newspaper reported earlier this year that the government will this year allow extensions of up to two extra storeys on homes and blocks of flats "without necessarily needing approval".

However Jenrick’s tweet has been met with a critical response across the board from housebuilders to environmentalists, who questioned whether the move was aimed at allowing home extensions or creating new homes.

Simon Ricketts, partner at specialist planning practice Town Legal LLP, tweeted: "When initially proposed, this idea was about additional dwellings, not home extensions.."

Responding, Barratt Developments UK land and planning director Philip Barnes wrote: "The supply debate seems to increasingly focused on provide more residential space as opposed to just more new homes."

Meanwhile, Matt Thomson, land use and planning lead at CPRE, tweeted: "Please explain which of the pressing problems of the #HousingCrisis the "freedom to add additional storeys to your home" is intended to solve?"

The MHCLG was contacted for a comment on Jenrick’s post but did not reply before this article went to press.