Planning applications soar in Suffolk as homeowners use lockdown to improve properties

Concept of construction process. Two skilled roofer in special work wear with helmet in hands instal

Concept of construction process. Two skilled roofer in special work wear with helmet in hands installing asphalt shingle or roof tile on top of new house Picture: GETTY IMAGES - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Homeowners in Suffolk have utilised the coronavirus lockdown to carry out much needed home improvements as planning applications for extensions and loft conversions increased nearly 200%.

New data from the Ministry of Housing reveals that applications increased by a massive 190% in Suffolk during lockdown.

That’s the second largest spike seen across the whole country and suggests residents were keen to improve and increase the amount of space in their homes.

The research completed by Roofing Megastore showed applications increased substantially between April and June in 2020, in both East and West Suffolk when compared to the same period the year before.

Applications rose by 189% in East Suffolk, 249% in West Suffolk, but in Mid Suffolk applications decreased slightly, by 20% from 2019 to 2020.

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Across England, applications actually fell by 8.5% from 255,575 between April and June in 2019, to 233,805 in the same period this year.

Matthew Bell, director of Modece Architects in Stowmarket ,said that he had been forced to employ more staff members to deal with the increase in business.

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“We have definitely seen an increase in enquiries during the Covid period,” he said. “I think it’s been caused by a mixture of two things.

“One is that people realise their homes are somewhere they will be spending more time. So they want to make it nicer, to enjoy them more.

“But also, people have more time on their hands and generally when that happens they think of interesting projects they want to do.

“There has been a rise across the board. We’ve been having inquiries into everything from office pods to extensions, refurbishments and new builds.”

Despite the rise in residential work, Mr Bell added that commercial work has taken a hit since the start of the pandemic.

He said: “The residential sector has been quite buoyant but the commercial sector has been very different. It has been hit quite hard, but our practise doesn’t deal with very much of that.

“We’ve been one of the lucky ones. Although I’ve had a meeting with RIBA Suffolk which is the local group of architects in the area and everyone in that group has said that business is currently very buoyant.”

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