In densely packed towns and cities, balconies and roof terraces make a huge difference to quality of life. So how easy is it to get planning permission? Sadly, not easy at all. Almost all councils strongly discourage them, worried that they may look out of place and allow occupiers to overlook their neighbours or disturb them through noisy parties and summer barbecues.
Some councils are so averse to the idea of new balconies and roof terraces on existing buildings that they have a ‘refusal reflex’ – no matter how good your design, or how carefully you have ensured that there will be no likely impact on your neighbours, your planning application will be refused.
Always take professional advice and consider a planning appeal. Appeals for terraces and balconies make up an increasing proportion of our workload and we have won all of the balcony/terrace appeals we have undertaken in the last few years. Check out some of our case studies below.
All types of properties benefit from roof terraces and balconies, but they are especially valuable on first floor flats with no other access to private outside space. A small one bedroom city flat is transformed by the opportunity to site outside on a small patio area, to drink a beer and take some air. Demand for small, but perfectly formed, outside spaces is going through the roof (ahem).
It is nevertheless fair that they should require full planning approval. In a crowded urban area, a new outside space in an elevated position may give its users direct and unobstructed views into neighbouring windows or over their gardens. Larger balconies close to neighbours’ bedroom windows may not be welcomed.
Simple design measures make roof terraces more acceptable in planning terms. Keep them modest in size and design them to integrate as closely as possible with the character and appearance of your property and the wider area. They are better with they are not easy to see from the street or neighbouring gardens. 1.8m tall privacy screens may protect neighbours from overlooking. On larger terraces, sets the balustrades well back from the edge so that it is not possible to look down into neighbouring gardens.
What to do, though, if your sensitively designed scheme is still thrown out by the planners? Consider a planning appeal, of course.
Our client, Dr Mukherjee, added a small wrought iron balcony to the rear of his family home. He intended it as an aesthetic feature – it is not large enough to be comfortably used for sitting out or socialising. Neighbours complained to the council, who served an Enforcement Notice requiring its removal. We appealed on his behalf. The inspector granted permission for the balcony, deciding that it would be little used and that there were no direct or intrusive views over neighbouring properties.
Dr Mukherjee was delighted and wrote to thank us:
“Just Planning has done a wonderful job. I am very impressed by their professionalism, quality of work and excellent communication. When I first contacted Martin, he just gave me advice to wait to see whether the council actually take action and made no attempt to secure my business prematurely. He is very trustworthy and has handled the whole process seamlessly and we did not have to worry about anything. It has been such a great relief for us. I would recommend him wholeheartedly.”
In Leigh-on-Sea, Lee Willox was refused planning permission for a front dormer window on his property, with a small balcony. The Council refused permission on the basis that dormers and balconies of this kind would look out of place. In fact, the dormer and balcony are classic features of this seaside town, allowing sea views. Our submission included an exhaustive study of the character of the area, impressing the appeals inspector who decided that the development would not look out of place.
Claire Phan lives in an upper floor flat in Hammersmith & Fulham, in London. Almost all of her neighbours had roof terraces and she applied for permission for something similar. The Council refused on impulse, deciding that there was likely to be an impact on neighbours. We helped Claire redesign the terrace and, when the application was refused by the council for a second time, produced a study to show that it would be virtually impossible for users of the proposed terrace to look into neighbouring windows or over neighbouring gardens. The subsequent planning appeal was allowed.
This case featured as a case study in a recent feature on Just Planning in the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/property/uk/dont-lose-out-in-the-postcode-planning-lottery-heres-how-to-beat/
Roof terraces and balconies are an excellent way to improve the quality of your home and add value to it. Don’t be put off by vagaries the planning system and the general aversion of councils to this kind of development.
If you want to submit a planning application or have had planning permission refused, speak to our lovely planning consultants.
If you would like some advice on whether you might get planning permission for a balcony or roof terrace at your property, consider the Ask Martin planning advice service.