The Government’s proposals to extend Permitted Development Rights in England have been welcomed by the Builders Merchants’ Federation.
The Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) has proposed changes to current restrictions that relate to homes, shops, small businesses, offices, and industrial buildings. The intention is to make it quicker, easier and cheaper to build small-scale, single-storey extensions and conservatories.
The proposed changes would apply initially for a temporary period of three years – though ministers have left open the possibility that such changes could become permanent. The DCLG also sought views on scope to use permitted development to make it easier to carry out garage conversions.
The BMF says that anything that accelerates the number of extensions or conversions completed will help merchants’ trading activity. The BMF told DCLG officials that easing the rules was sensible and welcome at a time when SME builders and allied trades in home improvement face dwindling order books.
It believes that its merchant members see the return of a thriving property improvement market as a way to revitalise a local economy. Many detect there is demand in their part of the world being held back by economic uncertainty and consumers’ unwillingness to spend. The Catch 22 is voters are investing too little in small building work – yet politicians tell people they are spending too much, and living beyond their means.
The organisation has also pointed out that improved availability of finance for businesses, and mortgages for individuals, is essential for construction-based economic recovery, led by private enterprise.
Without this, output will be constrained – and aspiring homeowners will continue to be frustrated – although ministers’ efforts to boost local economic activity in this way are very welcome to merchants.