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PR 15 - Billion pound renovation season starts at Easter

22 March 2008

Homeowners will spend more than £1.6bn on major alterations to their homes this summer, according to the Royal Town Planning Institute, which is stressing the need to gain planning permission where necessary before undertaking structural renovations.

Easter is the unofficial start of the renovation season and more than 160,000 homeowners are expected to start the kinds of improvements over the next six months which require planning permission. On average they'll spend £10,320 each (1).

The RTPI is stressing the need to gain good advice before commencing home improvements, particularly as the number of first-time renovators is predicted to increase as a result of the credit crunch, with more people choosing to renovate rather than relocate this year.

Most home-owners can do some minor works to their homes without planning permission – a process called 'permitted development'. However, some types of homes, like flats or historic buildings, or homes in areas where the local council has introduced special controls, may have few or no permitted development rights.

People who start work without checking first can get themselves into difficulties. Last year enforcement notices for breaches of planning guidelines were issued to around 2,700 home improvers. In most cases rectifying a breach of planning control will add significantly to the cost of completing a project and, in some cases, can lead to a fine or an order demanding the owner undo the renovation and return the premises to its previous form. The RTPI says this can be avoided by seeking the proper advice before launching into renovations.  

RTPI Policy Director, Rynd Smith, said: \"We're expecting an increase in the number of householder planning applications for relatively minor works this year as the effects of the credit crunch filter through and more homeowners choose to renovate and extend rather than relocate. This means a lot of people will be getting their first taste of the planning system and it is important that they are aware of their obligations.

\"As a general rule if you think your renovations are going to have an impact on your neighbours or significantly alter the structure or size of your home then you're going to need planning permission. But there are a number of circumstances where different rules apply. The bottom line is that it's always better to be safe than sorry. Running your ideas past a professional planner before launching into home improvements can be quite economical and save you a lot of grief and money down the line. Knocking a wall down is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier than putting it back up so it's a good idea to know how the rules apply to you before you start swinging the sledge hammer.\"

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Dale Atkinson, RTPI Communications Manager, 0207 929 9479

Notes to Editors:

  •    £10,320 is the figure quoted by Halifax in a release from January 2008. Details can be found here.
  •     Details on the number of householder planning applications are available from the Communities and Local Government website here.
  •     Getting planning permission: People who want to alter or extend their homes can get advice from their local council planning department.  Many have useful leaflets and other advice on their websites. Sometimes it is very useful to speak to an independent professional planner who can provide advice for a fee. They can work out whether planning permission is required, how to go about obtaining it and what the implications of planning rules are for the design of an extension. If members of the public want to appoint a planning adviser, they should check that they are properly qualified, designated as a Member or Fellow of the Royal Town Planning Institute (MRTPI or FRTPI) or using the term Chartered Town Planner.

The RTPI lists qualified consultant planners who provide advice to private clients at:

  •     Homeowners seeking more information on the planning system should look for the RTPI endorsed 'The Handy Guide to Planning' which has been put together by The Urban Forum in association with Planning Aid.

    The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

The RTPI is a dynamic organisation leading the way in the creation of places that work now and in the future. We understand that just as people develop places, so places develop people.  We are committed to the enhancement of our natural and human environment, using spatial planning to manage competing pressures on our built environments and the very real effects on our space.  Through our 20,000 members, we constantly seek to create areas and places in which people want to live and work.

For further general information, visit the RTPI website at:

41 Botolph Lane, London, EC3R 8DL, charity no. 26286