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MPs urge government to 'go back to drawing board' on planning free-for-all

A parliamentary select committee has demanded that the government reconsiders its proposed planning free for all, claiming the overhaul of permitted development rights is misguided

The Department for Communities and Local Government.hopes the contoversial proposals, which will ‘temporarily’ double the size of house extensions allowed to proceed without planning permission, could create £600 million worth of construction output and unleash more than 20,000 extension projects.

However MPs sitting on the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee branded the changes ‘unconvincing’ and said the shake-up was ‘based on an inadequate impact assessment’ and ignored two essential requirements of the sustainable development policy set out in the National Policy Planning Framework (NPPF).

Committee chair Clive Betts said, ‘First, the Government has produced very little hard evidence, and its impact assessment was not credible. Second, it has ignored [key requirements of the] NPPF – to take account of the environmental and social effects, as well as the economic.’

The government’s proposals would double the exemption from planning permission for extensions to certain kinds of housing – for a period of three years the size limits for the depth of single-storey extensions for detached houses would increase from 4m to 8m and from 3m to 6m for all other houses in non-protected areas.

Betts added: ‘The effects of this temporary relaxation of the planning rules will be new development which will have a permanent effect on neighbours and localities. I am uneasy that the proposed change will therefore be temporary in any manner. If a change to the planning rules is justified, it should be permanent. If it is not justified, it should not be made. The Government needs to go back to the drawing board.’

The government is currently considering feedback from cross-industry consultation, launched in November (AJ 13.11.2012), about the contentious proposals.

RIBA Past President and Chair of the RIBA Planning Group, Ruth Reed, said: ‘The Institute has responded to the government’s consultation on extending permitted development rights, advising against introducing this measure.

‘We are concerned that removing the checks and balances needed to avoid inappropriate development could have a negative impact on surrounding areas.

“This follows our YouGov poll in September 2012 which highlighted public concern over the proposals and the perceived negative impact they would, if introduced, have on the quality of their neighbourhoods. We found 54% of respondents believe that the government’s plan to remove the need for planning permission for house and building extensions would mean the quality of the design of their neighbourhood would get worse. Only a handful (7%) think that it will get better. We hope that following the consultation phase the Government will reconsider this short-sighted proposal”

Readers' comments (1)

  • Instead of this nonsense, The Government would do better to provide a more streamlined, predictable and accountable planning system in order to unleash more significant projects held up by bureaucratic, risk-averse and under-resourced LPAs.

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