Petition details

Allow L-shaped Loft Conversions

We the undersigned petition the Council to allow L-shaped loft conversions.

Recently the Lambeth Planning Department made a unilateral decision to reinterpret the national permitted development (PD) rules such that loft designs with rooms built over rear outriggers (e.g. L-shaped dormers) on most terraced houses are no longer allowed. We request that the Council change their Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG; the rules for full planning applications) to allow these loft designs for the following reasons:

• Lambeth’s strict planning policy is at odds with the current housing crisis in London. The inability to add a loft room over a rear outrigger prevents growing families from adding a needed additional room.
• Neighbouring boroughs allow such loft extensions under PD and full planning applications. Families are better off moving to a different borough if they need to extend.
• This highly debatable interpretation of PD means that the size of the loft on most terraces must be less than what is actually allowed under the national PD guidelines (e.g. 40m3 increase for a terraced property).
• While the current SPG states that L-dormers have a ‘discordant appearance’, this is clearly not a common view as they are allowed in most boroughs in the country. Furthermore, they are already a ubiquitous loft design in Lambeth.
• There is recent precedent for relaxing loft conversion rules in Lambeth. In 2015 Lambeth changed their SPG to allow mansard lofts that replace London roofs, which are a more prominent change to roof-lines than L-dormers.
• As notifying the Council of a loft conversion under PD is optional, the decision to reinterpret PD with immediate effect without notifying residents has overnight created hundreds of illegal lofts. This leaves residents open to enforcement (i.e. forced removal), which is not an idle threat - they have already started enforcement proceedings on an L-dormer identical to neighbouring properties. Changing the SPG will give these properties the ability to make their lofts legal through a full planning application.

Started by: Brian Stramer

This Petition ran from 19/02/2019 to 30/09/2019 and has now finished.

173 people signed this Petition.

Council response

Dear Brian,

The council’s approach to L-shaped dormers has been dictated by appeal decisions received since the summer of 2018, which have shown that Government Planning Inspectors have, in the main, not been recognising most L-shaped dormers as falling within permitted development. These are important material considerations which Lambeth have had to take into account in the determination of subsequent Lawful Development Certificates for L-shaped dormers.

The council’s decision notices and planning reports on subsequent L-shaped dormer cases in the borough – which are available on our website - explain the particular issues in each case and reflect the interpretation of such dormers that Government Planning Inspectors have made.
The council is mindful that some of the proposals recently refused through the Lawful Development Certificate process will likely be appealed and is awaiting the outcome of those appeals as a guide to dealing with such proposals going forward. The Council is also aware that it is not alone in interpreting the permitted development regulations pertaining to L-shaped roof extensions in this way, an example being the recent refusal by Runnymede Borough Council at Chandos Road in Staines, which was also dismissed on appeal (Planning Inspectorate ref. APP/Q3630/X/19/3220537).

In the circumstances planning enforcement action is not being actively considered for such L-shaped dormers, although each case has to be decided on it merits taking into account the expediency of action.

Furthermore, given the above, and in particular response to the question raised by the petition, I can advise that the Council is currently preparing new design guidance for a variety of building extensions and will be taking this opportunity to provide clarity to home owners on the types of roof extensions that are likely to secure planning permission. The Council is aware of the importance to home owners of being able to extend their properties in appropriate ways that enable them to accommodate growing families and to stay in the borough. The Council is also aware that the lack of clarity provided through the national permitted development regulations is frustrating for home owners wanting to build L-shaped dormer extensions currently, as evidenced by the petition. Accordingly, the Council will be using the new design guidance to address this situation which is likely to signal a more permissive stance to suitably designed L-shaped dormer extensions going forward. Such guidance, once adopted, will be an important material consideration for planning applications for these types of proposal.

Kind Regards,

Cllr Matthew Bennett
Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment & New Homes

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