Council to ban home extensions

OWNERS of small one and two bedroom houses in parts of Suffolk are being prevented from extending their properties to ensure stocks of affordable homes are maintained.

OWNERS of small one and two bedroom houses in parts of Suffolk are being prevented from extending their properties to ensure stocks of affordable homes are maintained.

Babergh District Council has adopted a policy of preventing owners of properties with a gross floor area of 75 square metres or less from building extensions to their homes, except in exceptional circumstances.

The authority has become the first in the county to implement the controversial policy to ensure there is a reasonable supply of affordable and starter homes available to young families and those on low to moderate incomes.

Exceptions will only be made to the rule if a home lacks a basic amenity like as an interior bathroom. The policy will not take away permitted development rights, which are included on deeds, when properties are purchased. But on smaller properties the development rights are usually extremely limited meaning there would not be enough space for the home owners to make a significant or large extension with planning permission from a local authority. Babergh's policy means it will refuse any application to significantly extend the smaller properties.

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The policy is outlined in the second draft of Babergh's local plan, it says: "A balance needs to be struck to ensure that the existing stock of smaller dwellings, which are affordable to low income and first time buyers is maintained.

"In the case of small dwellings, having a gross internal floor area of 75 square metres or less, which may be expected to be available for first time buyers or those on low incomes, no extensions will be permitted other than those necessary to give the dwelling a basic amenity."

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The move means people owning one or two-bedroom houses may have to leave their homes if they want a larger property. Those who want to extend their families by having further children may also be forced to look at bigger properties.

A spokesman for Babergh District Council said: "We believe that if pursued in the longer term, such a policy would offer greater housing choice to young families and those on low or moderate incomes.

"There is a lack of one and two bedroom properties in the area and in most cases we will recommend against someone who want to expand significantly. "We believe the healthiness of a community relies on a diverse range of property and property size. We believe the policy will make a positive contribution to helping young families and those on low incomes get onto the property ladder.

"Those already on the property ladder at least have the option of moving up. The motivation here is to maintain a healthy market."

Long Melford estate agent Todd Lewis, of Mullucks Wells and Associates

said: "I don't think this is a good decision, it contradicts itself because if those people on low to moderate incomes can't extend they will have to buy bigger houses, which are more expensive and many can not afford.

"This will not help the homeowners because extending is far cheaper than buying, it seems a very strange decision and unfair to those who want to improve their home without moving.

"There is definitely a shortage of small properties in the area, so if anything perhaps the council should plan for more affordable homes."

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