The Government is committed to ensuring the planning system supports the delivery of more homes where they are needed. The opportunity for new homes is not always an empty plot, or the redevelopment of a derelict site. As set out in the White Paper, “Fixing our broken housing market”, it is important that development uses the space that is available efficiently, and avoids building at low densities especially in areas of high demand such as London. The Government recognises that one of the ways to achieve this is to build up rather than build out, using the space above existing buildings to create new homes.
Alongside the White Paper, the Government confirmed its intention to bring forward policy changes to support this objective, which this Written Ministerial Statement sets out.
Planning policies and decisions should respond positively to suitable opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial premises for new homes. They should allow residential and commercial premises to extend upwards, where such extensions would be consistent with the prevailing height and form of neighbouring properties and the overall street scene, are well-designed (including complying with any local design policies and standards), respect the privacy of neighbours and can maintain safe access and egress for occupiers.
Policies and decisions on upwards extensions should take into account national and local policies, as well as relevant legal requirements, including relating to the conservation of heritage assets such as listed buildings and conservation areas. This will ensure councils can continue to protect valued areas of open space and the character of residential neighbourhoods, and stop unwanted garden grabbing.
The Government will be consulting on changes to the National Planning Policy Framework, including changes to incorporate building up to ensure effective use of land for current and future homeowners. Appropriate guidance will be produced in due course.