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 News 2009 - Planning for the future - Householder Extensions
Updated 2.2.09


Householder extensions: supplementary planning document

Sevenoaks Council have launched a consultation on their new rules for extensions to houses.  This will replace the current district plan and will run until 2026.  A printed copy is available in Hartley Library.

Why is it important?
This document when approved will guide future planning decisions.  So it will affect landowners' chances of getting planning permission for a particular site, and the grounds that local people can comment on applications.  It may not sound interesting, but potentially it affects us all.

What is being proposed?
This appears to be much more detailed than the current district plan; for the first time illustrations have been used to show what is acceptable and what is not.  A few of the proposals are reminiscent of past planning applications that have gone to appeal.

  • Rear extensions - should have pitched roofs and be no more than 3m (semi/terraced houses) or 4m long (detached)
  • Side extensions - should be no nearer than 1m from the boundary, need to consider street scene, and not lose key parking spaces
  • Front extensions - less acceptable than rear extensions, but OK if no consistent building line or projecting features such as gables.  Again flat roofs unpopular unless characteristic of road already.  Porches should not interfere with street scene.
  • Loft extensions - preferable at back rather than front.  Dormers not normally permitted if none in road already, velux windows may be acceptable instead.  Extensions shouldn't be higher than roof and be set back from eaves.  Dormers should align with existing windows and windows in general should be the same size as the existing ones on the property.
  • Garages - not normally allowable if in front of building line of road, should be clearly ancilliary to main building.
  • Fences - unsympathetic boundaries such as close boarded fences should be avoided where they border the street.  Total enclosure by high boundaries will not be encouraged, as they believe being able to see the street deters crime.
  • Hard surfaces - they wish to encourage the use of permeable surfaces.
  • Neighbour amenity - there are detailed considerations as to what the authority will assume is unacceptable development to neighbour amenity, extra protection is given to the space 5m behind a property which is the "private amenity area".
  • Green belt - they intend to apply the same criteria even for houses which cannot easily be seen.  The "50% rule" for size of extensions will continue, the size of the dwelling will include any ancilliary buildings within 5m of the main house.  Basements will be included in floorspace calculations for extensions.  Extensions should appear secondary to the building.  Loss of traditional boundaries such as hedges should be avoided and "urban" boundaries should be avoided.
  • General design - should be energy efficient, recycle materials where possible, design out crime, retain trees and hedges where possible and encourage wildlife.

What happens next?
This is only a consultation document at present.  If you have any comments for or against, you should let the council know.  Remember that this will dictate planning decisions for many years to come.  It could be your one chance to have a say now!  You can make your comments by logging in to the consultation website.