Alma Grove planning

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Tuesday 22 April 2008 10.15pm
Hi all,

The husband and I are moving to a house on Alma Grove sometime in the next month. We're thrilled with the house but will eventually want to create a side return extension when we have the cash.

I've seen some previous threads posted in 2006 on here about planning and how difficult it is as Alma Grove is in a conservation area. Has anyone had any recent experiences getting planning permission in the Alma Grove / Fort Road areas?
Wednesday 23 April 2008 10.13am
Yes - feel free to send me a PM (private message) and I can let you know what I am planning to do.

A search of Southwark Council's planning applications register will also bring up successful and failed applications so you can see what they consider reasonable.

Wednesday 23 April 2008 2.36pm
Whatever you do, don't stint on professional fees. Use a decent architect who is familiar with working with Southwark to produce the plans and to submit the planning application.
Wednesday 23 April 2008 2.43pm
I live in Alma Grove and have been through the planning process (as has Chris above). In principle you can do a side return without planning permission, under something called 'permitted development'. This allows one to undertake a small extension (it's based on a % of the existing house foorprint) without the need for formal approval. In practice it is best to still submit a planning application, so the planners see it, but if it's carefully drawn up (to meet the permitted development guidelines) they can't comment on it. The fact that Alma Grove is in a Conservation area makes no difference, you can still do this under permitted development.

As with all things planning, the devil is in the detail so you'd still need good advice and drawings doen for you.

When we were doing our planning the architect said that we could do a single story side-return under permitted development. If you wanted it double height then that is much more of an issue and in most cases, they would not approve this.

We wanted to do a single storey extension out the back of our house and it got refused - the planners are very strict in this area (this was outside of permitted development).

PM me if you want more detail.
Wednesday 23 April 2008 3.07pm
Thanks JGarcia - really really useful to know about Permitted Development. Eventually our ideal would be to do a double height (2 story) extension, so a side return and then extending upstairs above it, but it seems this is unlikely from what you said?

Our neighbours to the right of us and behind us have done this, so I'm hoping there's a case around precedence.
Thursday 24 April 2008 9.38am
The precedence rules don't mean anything unless it was done in the last few years (I think 4 or 5) and it was done with planning permission. We submitted our planning application based on what you said (i.e. other people have done it) and it makes no difference - most of them were done years ago (before the current planning guildelines were in place) and most had been done without permission!

From what I know, you'd never be able to do a 2 story extension to the side (i.e. a double storey on the side return) as it would block out the light to your neighbours.

In terms of 2 storey extension to the back of the house - you can't ever extend beyond the existing house footprint. In theory if you have single storey extension already (most houses have the bathroom here) you can extend on top of it. However, in practice, you can only do this if the people next to you have already done this. If they haven't the planners will reject it as the new 2nd floor extension will block the light to the neighbours upstairs window (this is what ours was refused on).

Also, if you do get permission, this is major building work that has to be done under building regulations - we were looking at around 150k to do this sort of work (2nd floor extension and extend to the side return).

When are you moving in to Alma Grove and which number is the house? You're more than welcome to come over for a chat and I can point out the planning issues to you.
Thursday 24 April 2008 11.18am
150k.... Wow! Were you having it built from gold bricks? For something that might increase the value of the house from 420k to 495k?

If the neighbours don't have one, you may be able to get the neighbours to cooperate and build one too in order to solve the right to light issues.
Thursday 24 April 2008 11.36am
It's a big job, as you have to move the flank wall of the house. This requires a structural engineer to design and manage, and building controls will do at least 2 inspections. The problem is that you have to dig new footings for the new flank wall and you can't get access to the rear of the houses with a digger, so they have to be dug by hand. You then have to fully support the entire weight of the house whilst you knock down the existing flank wall.

To support the new part you then have to put in a steel accross the entire width of the house. This is hard to do, expensive and again, has to be done under structural engineer/ building controls management. No decent builder will do this without covering themselves.

Such a piece of work will never pay for itself - it will add 20 maybe 30k to the value of the house at most.

You're right about the neighbours - the planner said that they would approve an application if our neighbours extended out the back as well. Unfortunatly our neighbour is misserable and mad, so this wasn't an option.
Thursday 24 April 2008 3.59pm
JGarcia, you are a wealth of knowledge on all things planning.

I was initially thinking of extending upstairs and over a side return...then if we couldn't do or afford that then a side return extension and upstairs over the bathroom.

We will def take you up on your offer for a chat when we're in situ. We're hopefully moving in a month to six weeks - 24 Alma Grove. The legal side and searches are going full steam ahead, but the mortgage company is taking longer then normal - not surprising considering the current economic climate.

Chris - thanks for your help and pointing us to planning your documents. Your extension looks great! When does building work begin?

Very excited to be moving to the street - everyone has been super friendly.
Thursday 24 April 2008 8.58pm
On the Southwark planning site you can see our planning refusal - 39 Alma Grove. The detailed documents are not there any more though. In hindsight we're sort of glad we didn't do it, as the huge cost would not have been worth it. We just did up our house as it was and we're happy with it.

Alma Grove is lovely, you'll love living here. Hope your mortgage offer comes through!
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