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Local governments call for rethink on planning free-for-all

The Local Government Association has warned that plans to further relax planning rules could lead to ‘unsightly, out of place development’

Announced last month as part of a package of measures designed to boost house building, the fresh planning reforms would see a doubling of permitted development limits for extensions to homes and new permitted development rights for converting offices into housing.

The association is concerned developments previously rejected on the grounds of being unsightly, out of character, or for invading neighbours’ privacy may now go ahead unimpeded, under the proposals.

It also suggested some local councils would avoid implementing the reforms.

Councils in Lincolnshire and Richmond have already voted against the policy, saying that these extensions could lead to a greater risk of flooding, in low lying areas, and leave residents ‘powerless to block large extensions’. 

The LGA is calling for the government to scrap the plans. This move could put the buffers on the policy, without the support of local councils it is unlikely to go ahead.

Councillor Mike Jones, chair of the LGA’s Environment and Housing Board, said: ‘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 per cent 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.

‘The 22,000 applications which are rejected each year are knocked back for good reasons and it would be totally wrong if extensions which were previously rejected due to objections from neighbours or because they were judged to blight the neighbourhood could now sneak back in unimpeded.’

Last month, the RIBA also raised concerns over the relaxation of planning policy, calling for the government to ‘ensure adequate safeguards are put in place to prevent poorly-designed new extensions’.

In a recent YouGov poll, commissioned by the RIBA, 54 per cent of respondents claimed the proposed changes would damage the quality of their neighbourhood.

 

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