Scrap planning relaxations, LGA tells government
By Vivienne Russell | 12 October 2012
Ministers should scrap proposals to relax planning restrictions on house extensions, loft conversions and conservatories, the Local Government Association has said.
Allowing home alterations to go ahead without council approval could increase flood risk, contribute to ecological damage and aggravate tensions between neighbours, the organisation warned.
The government announced in September that it would consult on permitting people to build larger extensions on their homes without the need for planning permission.
It is proposed that owners of detached houses be allowed to extend them by up to eight metres from the current limit of four metres. For semi-detached properties, the extension limit would be increased from three metres to six metres. These new Permitted Development Rights would apply for three years and are intended to give a boost to the construction sector and help revive the economy.
But Mike Jones, chair of the LGA’s environment and housing board, said yesterday: ‘This policy potentially gives the green light to unsightly and out-of-place development without delivering a big enough boost to the construction industry to justify the potential damage.
‘Councils approve almost 90% of householder planning applications. The approval rate is so high because the planning process works to ensure development is suitable for a local area and doesn't unduly impact neighbours. Loosening rules around extensions would eliminate this vital mediation process in a large number of cases.’
He added that when planning applications were refused it was for ‘good reasons’.
Ministers should instead focus their efforts on freeing up lending for first-time buyers and developers, Jones said.
‘The government should also lift tight restrictions on local authority borrowing so councils and housing associations can raise money to invest in new homes.’