A NEWSPAPER ARTICLE today claims that planning permission for green roofs and rooftop terraces could become more simple and straightforward – even on domestic buildings.
Where in the past permission has been denied because of neighbour privacy issues, the article says that government ministers are considering giving greener roofs the go ahead as long as there is a gain in biodiversity.
According to Helena Horton in the Daily Mail, Government sources have suggested that planning permission rules to place furniture, trees, and plants on rooftops will be relaxed.
As this year’s World Green Roof Day demonstrated, a green rooftop can promote significant development in biodiversity. A collection of rare orchids, Serapias parviflora, was discovered this June on the green roof of Nomura International Bank in the City of London – the first time the small-flowered tongue-orchid has been seen in the UK since its sighting in Cornwall in 1989.
Green roofs offer other benefits too, including improved insulation, reducing heating bills and slowing water run-off, avoiding urban flooding. However, while some continental European countries require new-builds to green their roofs, there is no such requirement in the UK, and no incentives.
According to the Daily Mail, a spokesperson for the Government stated that the plans are “definitely something that should be taken seriously”, while one minister said, “I would strongly support planning and building regulations being relaxed in relation to biodiversity initiatives like roof gardens”.
The reported planning permission changes come as part of a broader plan from Government to allow homeowners to improve their houses’ environmental impact more easily.
As the rules currently stand, obtaining planning permission for a rooftop terrace or garden can be difficult and time consuming, as the plans need to take issues such as privacy and light-blocking into account. However, the Daily Mail reports that Government ministers are planning to make this process more straightforward, and will allow modifications to be made if they can demonstrate that they will benefit biodiversity.
Rooftop terraces can be especially important in inner-city accommodation where homes are much less likely to have a garden then elsewhere in the country. Roof terraces, or accessible green roofs, can provide a green communal space for social community activity, as well as having positive environmental impacts.