Homeowners can now add two storeys to their home without seeking full planning permission first, under new laws.
Home extensions will instead benefit from a new fast-track planning approval process, and will also allow unused commercial properties to be converted into housing without a full planning application.
When will the laws take effect?
The new rules were set out in parliament on 21 July and will come into effect in September this year.
The changes, which apply to owners of detached properties, will allow homeowners to expand their current living space upwards to two storeys, up to a height of 18 metres. As such, families will be able to extend their home under the same permitted development rights used for small extensions and loft conversions.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said he hoped people would use the new laws to add extra space for growing families and elderly relatives, thereby avoiding the need to move house.
Unused commercial properties will also benefit from the new laws, as it means a planning application will no longer be required to demolish and rebuild unused buildings.
The government hopes the move will help to reduce the need to rebuild on greenfield sites and will create homes that fit the character of the local area.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick said, "We are reforming the planning system and cutting out unnecessary bureaucracy to give small business owners the freedom they need to adapt and evolve, and to renew our town centres with new enterprises and more housing.
"These changes will help transform boarded up, unused buildings safely into high quality homes at the heart of their communities.”
Neighbours cannot object
Currently, planning permission can take between eight and 16 weeks to get approval, allowing neighbours the opportunity to formally object to the plans.
However, under the new laws, homeowners will be able to apply for an extension via a “fast-track approval service”, which should receive a response within eight weeks, and neighbours will not be able to formally object to the changes to properties.
The Ministry of Housing has also said that developers will still have to comply with building regulations, and should consider the impact on neighbours and the appearance of the extension.
However, councils may be able to block extensions for a limited number of reasons, such as traffic congestion, flood risk and noise pollution.