Onwards and upwards: England’s new rules about building up

In a bid to 'shake up city living', Housing Secretary Sajid Javid recently announced a new, relaxed approach to extending properties upwards in England. However, before we all start planning our loft extensions – and that third floor we've always wanted – it's time to have a look at what these changes really mean for homeowners, and whether building up is going to boost your home value in the process.

Building more homes in big cities

The government's goal to have 300,000 new homes built each year is currently falling short of the target. According to the National House Building Council, just over 160,000 were registered in 2017. The new regulations are intended to make it easier for developers to build family homes in densely populated cities like Manchester and London, where space is at a premium.

Saying goodbye to garden grabbing

The government has finally recognised that garden space is precious, especially in cities. The new regulations should make it easier for developers and homeowners to add square footage without taking away much-needed green areas. The hope is that this will usher in a new era of townhouses – city centre properties split over multiple levels.

Keeping up with the neighbours

Before you start worrying that your next door neighbour will try and transform their two-bed semi-detached into a skyscraper to rival the Shard – relax. Under the new regulations homeowners will only be able to add two stories to their house, and even then it will need to be in keeping with the roofline of neighbouring properties.

Looking after heritage neighbourhoods

The Housing Secretary clarified that any changes "must remain in keeping with the character of the local area, including the preservation of listed buildings and conservation areas." If you currently live in a heritage neighbourhood, such as one of Manchester's Grade II-listed terraced streets, rules about upward expansion will be stricter.

Providing benefits for property sellers

This is great news for house values. If you can extend upwards without sacrificing your outside space, you'll have the bonus of an extension while keeping your garden – two things that add value to a property. Even if you don't want (or need) to extend, simply having the planning permission in place can help you sell your home to someone who might be looking for a larger property than you currently have.