The pandemic has accelerated investment in home improvements, inspiring many homeowners to consider how to get the most from their property. However, while a new extension, for example, can provide you with more space to work or relax, it’s important to think about planning regulations. Even though most small orangeries and conservatories don’t require planning permission, the exemption size is quite limiting.
In our experience, most customers simply aren’t aware of this; in fact, planning permission is typically one of the areas people are least informed about. Although you might have taken on the responsibility of planning permissions, in most instances this lies with your client, and while they ultimately might be accountable (and the ones facing any consequences if any rules are broken), it’s also your time that’s being wasted too.
Being able to advise on planning permission sets you apart from other builders, and asking the right questions upfront can indicate that you’re a knowledgeable and trustworthy partner. And we all know that trust is a major factor in who homeowners choose for the job.
What to be aware of when planning a glazed extension
When seeking permission for your project, there are certain rules to comply with, ranging from the percentage of land covered, to the maximum heights and depths allowed in different scenarios. Often these dimensions won’t cover you for a typical modern orangery, so checking this out should be your first port of call.
You should also be aware that where you live can also affect the outcome of a planning application. The guidelines for exemption are not always interpreted consistently across the UK, varying amongst individual planning officers.
Luckily, there are ways to increase the chances of a successful planning application though.
Discuss ideas with a planning officer
Informally discussing ideas with the planning officer, before completing an application form or paying any fee, can save both time and money, and you may find it’s possible to overcome any potential objections by agreement at this stage. Encourage your client to share as much information as they have, from sketch designs and plans, to details on build quality. While in some areas it may be difficult to arrange informal discussions, as planners are too busy, it’s certainly worth a try.
Tell the neighbours
It’s just common sense to give neighbours a heads up regarding significant projects like extensions. As well as just being common courtesy, they’re often much less likely to object if they’ve been given a proper explanation of plans and a chance to ask any questions they may have. It saves misunderstandings further down the line and makes the whole process smoother.
Complement not contrast
When planning a new orangery or conservatory, designs should be sympathetic and subordinate, rather than overpowering. Try and persuade your client against schemes that would drastically change the history fabric of their house, instead, guiding them towards picking out existing features of their home and finding ways to introduce them into the design.
Check for permitted development rights
For those clients really keen to avoid the hassle of planning applications, it’s worth checking to see if the home has permitted development rights. This is a type of national grant allowing
certain building works to be carried out without having to make a planning
application. Use the planning portal tool to establish whether the property fits into this category.
If, despite you or your client’s best efforts, planning consent is becoming difficult to obtain, consulting an experienced architect or planning specialist could help you move forward with your project.
Karen Bell is Sales Director at David Salisbury, who have been manufacturing and installing top of the range hardwood conservatories, garden rooms and orangeries for over 30 years.