Press Release: Civic movement speaks out to stop inappropriate upward extensions without permission

Embargo: Immediate release January 15th, 2019

Civic Voice – the national charity for the civic movement with 75,000 members – has submitted a consultation response urging the Government to think harder about the plans it has to allow developers to change buildings on our high streets without requiring full planning permission.

The proposals, introduced in the consultation ‘Planning Reform – Supporting the high street and increasing the delivery of new homes’ proposes to allow additional storeys to be built above certain commercial or residential buildings, up to a maximum of 5 storeys. 

Ian Harvey, Executive Director of Civic Voice, said: “We support the principle of encouraging a greater mix of uses on the high street. However, we consider the proposals, as they stand, will impact on the quality of design on our high street. Civic Voice supports making the most efficient use land and understands the rationale for exploring the possibility of using the airspace above properties to provide new homes. However, given the high visibility and prominence of upward extensions and potential impact on the street scene, local character and amenity, very careful consideration of such proposals must be required.”

Civic Voice, therefore, objects to the option to allow premises to extend to the roofline of the highest building in a terrace unless full consideration of the ‘design, siting and external appearance of the upward extension and its impact on amenity and character of the area’ can be fully considered by the local authority and is included in the final legislation.

Civic Voice believes that it is essential to ensure a proposed upward extension under PD amounts to ‘good design, adds to the overall quality of the area… is visually attractive as a result of good architecture, responds to the local character and history of the area and maintains a strong sense of place’, as required by the NPPF and as outlined in Paras. 1.25 - 1.26 of the consultation.

Joan Humble, Chair of Civic Voice, said: “The future of the nation’s high streets is differentiation. To achieve that requires collaborative planning and long-term visioning with the community at its heart, and the historic environment as its USP. Investing in the high street requires long-term planning and whilst the government believes the plans would help revive high streets and increase housing delivery, we think it may do the opposite and we may end up with poor quality designed housing without consideration for the wider built environment, something we know is key to successful high streets. We will be communicating our feelings to the Minister for High Streets, Jake Berry MP and will discuss this issue further at a Parliamentary meeting we have organised on February 25th.”


Civic Voice’s full consultation response can be accessed via


Ian Harvey .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), 07877096968