Council set to relax planning restrictions on extensions and roof conversions

Cllr Paul McGlone
Cllr Paul McGlone supported the move to relax planning rules on extensions and loft conversions

Lambeth council’s cabinet last night approved plans to relax strict planning restrictions on residents in the borough who want to make alterations to their homes.

A report, approved by members at the town hall meeting, will make it easier for applicants to build rear extensions, dormer windows and Mansard roofs on buildings not deemed ‘heritage assets’.  The Supplementary Planning Document will now form part of the future Local Plan which will give planning guidelines for all applications in the borough.

The move follows over two years of campaigning by Brixton residents like Mark Buttery, who addressed last night’s town hall meeting. Buttery had been lobbying local councillors over what he saw as unfair application of planning policy on his street in Ferndale Ward.

Buttery said: “Many of our houses need a large amount of investment in them to make them fit for 21st century living and allowing residents to build into the roof, makes them fit for the needs of modern families.

“We as residents are supportive of the policy since it will allow the building of loft conversions to be standardised, which whilst the current policy tried to resist mansards, there have now been many examples where permission has been granted which in itself leads to an inconsistent approach.”

Cllr Paul McGlone, deputy leader and ward councillor for Ferndale, said: “This is difficult and the council has responded to residents’ concerns. I hope that we won’t have some of the apparent arguments we have had in the past in the future.”

The revised planning document will now go to public consultation before final approval from the council in May.

See the full Draft Building Alterations and Extensions Supplementary Planning Document.

Related: Lambeth Cabinet meeting: council outlines £7M of parks improvements in Brixton and Herne Hill, but will only provide £1.5M of the funding



  1. By “heritage assets” does that mean any building sitting within a designated conservation area?

  2. I whole heartedly approve of Lambeth’s move to relax Residential Planning Guidelines. I am an architect who lives and works in Lambeth ( and have been perplexed at how the national Permitted Developments Rights for home owners are in direct contravention of Lambeth’s Residential Guidance for loft conversions and extensions. This move also opens up the possibility of flats being extended to accommodate a family’s growing need. This is vital if we are to even attempt to increase habitable room density and meet housing targets. The move will also hopefully mean more architects are involved with these small scale projects which in turn should improve the quality of the built work. Permitted Development rights have been somewhat abused by Builders/loft companies who put profit before quality resulting in some real eye sores. WELL DONE LAMBETH!

  3. I gotta agree with Rob here. Its a good thing if the restrictions are not as strict when it comes to home modification.

  4. We are eagerly awaiting publication of the SPD, living with three children in a two bed flat, it can’t come quick enough. Does anyone have any up to date news of where Lambeth are at with it?

  5. Rob / Jon, i agree with you wholeheartedly.

    We live in a small 2 bed first floor flat in Gipsy Hill. We moved into the area in 2012 as a newly wed couple and we now have the need to convert our attic as we are a growing family with two young children. Last year when we began the process of exploring possibilities to convert we were laughed at by numerous loft conversion companies when we discussed our wish to convert our attic to a full width rear box dormer conversion. ‘Anywhere but Lambeth’ was the general consensus if we wished to have such a conversion. We then discovered the April 2008 document and its suggestions as to what would be permitted – small dormer windows to the rear or roof lights which would not convert the attic sufficiently to a usable space.

    We then carried out a photographic survey of our local neighborhood and much to our surprise found numerous examples of what we would not be permitted to build; one example on our very row of houses, and two more on those properties facing us at the rear. The character of the roof scapes (dormer windows / roof lights to the rear) that the April 2008 spoke of protecting the character of, did not actually exist on a grand scale and how could it when converted flats are master planned directly alongside houses which are somehow immune to these restrictive planning laws and are permitted to redevelop their property within lawful development laws and not planning.

    If we could have afforded a full 3/4 bed house in the area we would not now have the need to convert our attic. That is not the case so we need to convert our 2 bed first floor flat to so we can live in the flat we love and the neighborhood we choose to settle in and raise a family.

    All of the proposed revisions to the building alterations / rear extensions / loft conversions are welcomed and would make a loft conversion worth the cost. The full width mansard rear extension; the ultimate form of conversion is a much welcomed addition to the permitted forms of loft conversions. It is a much more most robust and cost effective form of construction. This is also a very common form of roof conversion in the neighboring boroughs. One just has to take a train from Gipsy Hill to Clapham junction to view numerous examples.There is minimal price difference in cost from loft conversion companies to convert with two small dormer windows then a full width mansard, yet the difference in space is considerable.

    To avoid the need to move out of Lambeth to a borough that encourages its residents to redevelop their properties within a more realistic guidance policy, Lambeth council need to support their residents and listen to their needs. I fully support the idea of protecting the character of the area, the architecture and the heritage, but we do not wish to build a glass sky scraper from our attic, we simply want to convert to a usable space that is cost effective, as our neighbors can who own the whole house. On that note, this draft supplementary planning document from December 2014, In particular the sections to rear extensions and loft conversions needs to be embraced and transformed into the approved policy.

    I would add that having read the April 2008 document it appeared to be written with a Utopian view of how all roof scapes should look in Lambeth – in a perfect world – green good, red bad. It did not seem to apply to our borough and it lead me to wonder if anyone from the Lambeth planning department had carried out a thorough review all of the roof scapes in the borough before writing those regulations that became policy. Any new policy must take into account that converted flats will sit alongside houses and only then can a policy be written that aims to protect the character of the roof scapes within the area. The new draft December 2014 document goes someway to achieving that and it cannot become law quick enough.

  6. I sincerely hope that people approach the issues with emotional intelligence and not with a blind fold on please read the draf policy before commenting. If you do object to any provision of the draft policy then please be clear and specific so we can have a reasoned well argued and rational debate

  7. Why do people become so hysterical about change. People should read the new draft SPD on home extensions then they will have an informed view before going into print. The proposal is in draft form and everyone will have a right to comment during the consultation process.

    If the policy is adopted then once an application is made to the concil everyone has the right to object to an application. Adoption of the policy will not give an automatic right to build.

    Furthermore the policy expressly protects heritage assets ie buildings in conservation areas and listed buildings. Full mansard roofs into butterfat roofs will only be permitted on non heritage assets. In addition the exterior elevations will be prescribed by the policy so terraces remain uniform as they are designed. The is a very welcome development and will enhance the re generation of the housing stock in lambeth

    • totally agree Brian ! we currently have many examples of unlawfully built projects that the council don’t seem to care about – at least this gives a uniform look and feel to the borough ! the housing stock is in a dreadful state and really needs money spending on it – it will also allow the council to increase and improve their own housing stock.. Great news for Lambeth !

  8. Terrible news. Privacy invasion, noise and poor designs on a piecemeal level have led to the backs of houses in Brixton looking like shanty towns. This is an appalling move and is basically a property developer’s charter to do what they want when they want. Resist.

    • “Resist”? Are you calling for direct action because you disapprove of kitchen extensions?

      • Why are you asking this? Why do you assume there is something sinister in the word Resist that I use? Direct action is associated with more than objection to planning applications. Something more sinister perhaps? It is not just kitchen extensions, which on the ground floor and into side returns are often perfectly acceptable if they are designed properly. I disapprove of the piecemeal way that the backs of our houses are allowed to develop – I said it in my post so why say it again. All I can add is that many gardens are small round here and they are disappearing fast under the current pressure to conform with the latest on trend idea. These are just my opinions – nothing more. I’m fed up with everyone endlessly fiddling about with their houses and flats for the sake of it – it’s very wasteful of resources and often just the latest fad rather than original thinking.

      • James I think it might be best to look at the policy and get an understanding of it before you make judgements on it – lambeths current policy is in conflict to London and national policy – it is the only borough in London to take this stand – and in there own words it is outdated and not fit for purpose ! I don’t want to move I want to stay in my community and develop my own property as I see fit, with the support and help of a policy that supports this.

    • I don’t know who you are Rob but I think this is bad news for all of us. It will be detrimental to quailty of life here. Only time will tell. Lambeth Council appear to be becoming right wing property people. James

      • I’m a 45 year old father of 2 young children who has lived in Brixton for close to 30 years. I can’t afford to move from my 2 bed house. Nor do I want to. A mansard roof would answer a lot of my problems.
        I hope that helps.

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