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Government shelves planning-free home extensions

The government has watered down proposals which would have allowed homeowners to build significantly larger house extensions without planning permission

In letter to MPs, communities secretary Eric Pickles said he was considering amending the controversial plans, set out in the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, to let adjoining neighbours object.

If these neighbours fail to object then the extension can go ahead without planning. Under the proposal – which is similar to ‘prior approval’ – the local authority must decide whether development would have an ‘unacceptable impact on neighbours’ amenity’ should objections arise.

Plans to temporarily double the length of house extensions from four metres to eight metres were first announced by the government in September but came in for heavy criticism. Pickles compromise came after the government narrowly defeated a backbench rebellion over the controversial reform last week.

A total of 26 coalition MPs – led by environmentalist Zac Goldsmith – had voted against the government in favour of a House of Lords amendment allowing councils to opt out of the controversial national policy.

Responding to the decision from the Secretary of State, Civic Voice Chair, Paula Ridley, said: ‘[We] welcome the changes that the Government is presenting as an enhancement over the original proposals and we are pleased that neighbours will now be consulted on plans which affect them. While we need to examine the detail within the proposed changes, we fully recognise that the Government has listened to the concerns coming from civic groups across England.’

Pickles said: ‘We now have a set of reforms that will both help local traders and the wider economy. We are backing families who work hard, want to get on and improve their homes. We are strengthening individuals’ property rights and supporting aspiration and home ownership.’




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