The government has this week announced that planning laws will be loosened to allow homeowners in certain areas to add an extra two storeys onto their properties.

The new rules will make it easier for developers, businesses and homeowners to extend upwards in order to create more living space, with shops, flats and houses included in the proposals, although councils will still have the right to protect and maintain the character of residential areas.

Housing secretary Sajid Javid revealed the measures in a bid to tackle the UK’s housing shortage, on top of the government’s target to build 300,000 new homes every year – a target which many believe is going to be impossible to achieve.

Javid said: “The answer to building new homes isn’t always an empty plot, or developing on a derelict site…We need to be more creative and make more effective use of the space we already have available.”

The measures would help to preserve green spaces in towns and cities, and prevent “garden-grabbing” extensions, according to ministers.

More space on offer

As well as enabling developers to add extra levels above shops and flats to create more living space in built-up areas, buy-to-let landlords could also take advantage of the relaxation of the rules, potentially increasing the capacity of their rental properties – which would be advantageous as the number of renters continues to rise.

Paresh Raja, CEO of Market Financial Solutions, said: “Buy-to-let landlords can now consider adding additional storeys to their property, increasing the number of rental spaces on offer. At the same time, property developers can also look to build a further two storeys on existing developments, increasing the number of houses available on the market.

“Ultimately, this type of reform will only contribute to housing supply and will help alleviate current market demand.”

The government is employing a variety of measures in order to try and tackle the housing shortage, including relaxing permitted development rules to allow offices to be converted for residential use. Empty homes in the UK have also been a major problem that the government has begun to target, with some councils being given the power to increase council tax on unoccupied properties to encourage owners to get them back into use.