Victorian terrace house extensions
In Victorian times, population growth, and the
Industrial Revolution which saw a migration of workers from the countryside to the cities, resulted in
successive housing booms in the 1850s and 1870s that saw the creation of millions of houses. These catered not only
for the rich and the new "middling-classes" but also for the poor.
In deprived areas, Victorian houses were often very small, for example, back-to-back
houses built in extremely cramped conditions. Some of these areas became slums or 'rookeries', and were later
cleared. Some smaller, two-up two-down houses still survive, for example in Salford, Greater
The Victorian terrace house forms the stable bedrock of many UK towns. They were normally referred to as the
'two up two down' properties for the housing of the workers migrating from the countryside.
Some of the properties also had a later extension added at the rear for the scullery or internal ground floor
bathroom and some had a bedroom over.
These are referred to as 'outriggers' & they often had lower floor levels and made to a poor standard simply
to keep down the retrofitting costs as the housing standards slowly changed for the better.
These 'outrigger' original and old extensions where also usually inset from one of the boundaries to provide
light to the dining room (or original kitchen). This left an awkward gap of around 1.2 to 2M that modern day
homeowners have seen as an infill area for a suitable location for a side extension to increase the size of the
For the last 20 years, these extensions have normally been allowed under the sites permitted development
allowances provided the extension did not exceed 50 cubic meters. Very few of these extensions required formal
Planning approval. If they did, most were refused due to the blocking of light to the neighbouring properties
In October 1st 2008 the permitted development rights (PDR) were altered that was meant to be more flexible for
most homeowners. Regretfully the casualty of the change was for these Victorian terraced properties that now wanted
an infill side extension but were also within a conservation area - and many are. There is a quirk within the pdr
wording of the GPDO that prevents side extension within Conservation areas. Most of these extensions are now being
refused due to loss of light issues to the neighbours unless a joint or combined extension to both properties are
proposed & presented to the Planning Dept.
Another aspect of a Victorian terraced house extension is the remodelling of the internal space to create a
semi-open plan ground floor living space. This usually happens at the rear mainly as most Victorian terraced
house stairs traverse through the middle of the property (side to side) creating a physical barrier to retain the
front room in tact.
It is also never wise to have the stairs open plan and discharging into a habitable room for the fire risk and
the entrapment of the upper floor occupants. Compartmentation of the circulation areas discharging to an
outside door should always be retained unless some other mitigating works approved under Building Regulations are