Loft Design for Loft Conversions in London

Since the implementation of a planning system to bring some order, control and regulation to the rebuilding of our towns and cities following the bomb damage inflicted by the Luftwaffe, our local planning authorities have, over the years, made some very dubious decisions on new development schemes which  influence the very way we live within a community. The urban environment in which we live and work has a direct contribution on our mood, outlook, aspirations and behaviour.  You only have to look at the post war high rise housing estates that are being demolished after only forty years and rebuilt due to the crime hotspots they have become due to social deprivation and the poor health of the residents due to the building techniques and materials used such as asbestos. Large scale developments are more often than not decided on political grounds but what about the individual home owner who wants to develop, extend or build.

Take a look around any neighbourhood and you will see that loft conversions in London are playing a large part in how our City is evolving and constantly renewing. Many areas in London contain many more properties with loft conversions than those without.  This is particularly so for loft conversions in south London and loft conversions in north London.  However, what I find interesting is the enormous difference in loft styles even within a row of terraced houses. You may ask how have London loft conversions created such a mixture of loft designs across our roof tops. The reason why it has evolved in this way can be explained as follows.

Like fashion, building materials and designs are constantly changing. What was once the height of building design in the 1970’s is now considered unattractive.  Secondly, the planning system has changed continually during Government’s term of office. Over the years planning rules have been altered – having been tightened during one Government and relaxed again following a change of office.

The latest change to the system was The Permitted Development Order 2008 which relaxed the rules for loft conversions in London giving more freedom for house owner’s to generally build roof extensions in London without the need for planning permission. However, the anomaly is that a top floor flats for properties in multiple occupation such as a flat conversion of a mid terraced Victorian or Edwardian house does not have permitted rights to extend and still needs planning permission for loft conversion. This gives rise to situations where an adjoining house can have a very large roof extension under permitted development  but the immediate neighbour who has a flat has ended up with a much smaller loft all because planning permission is required and the London loft conversion design must meet the Council’s policy design guidelines. The option of submitting a design which does not meet the Council’s policy for London loft conversion is an option in order to take a refusal to appeal but the success of this route is very much a lottery. More often than not the appeal inspector’s take a sympathetic stance with the Council’s reasons not to grant permission.

Some home owner’s may be tempted to build larger roof extensions in London outside the parameters of permitted development and not obtain planning permission. I do not condone breaking the law in this way but for people prepared to take the risk of Council enforcement action, it can create noticeable variations and anomalies in the character of an area.


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