May 24 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Government plans to scrap planning permission on extensions to boost economy
Radical proposed changes to the planning system allowing free-for-all home extensions could see neighbours at loggerheads, a critic has warned.
Under new Government proposals unveiled this week, homeowners will be able to extend their properties without planning permission.
The one year scheme could see a frenzy of conservatories, garages and loft extensions popping up all over Kent, without consulting neighbours on their views.
The Government wants to relax strict restrictions for homeowners and businesses in a bid to kick-start the ailing economy and stimulate growth.
But, the plans have been condemned by critics who say it is not a solution to the country’s financial woes.
The scheme would allow homeowners to extend their properties by up to six or eight metres without permission, depending on whether it is terraced or detached. Currently, permission from the local authority is required for extensions of more than three or four metres.
Businesses will be able to expand shops by 100 square metres and industrial units by 200 square metres.
By getting rid of the red tape surrounding the process, the Government is hoping to boost jobs for the construction industry, which has suffered in recent years.
The current planning system has come under fire for taking too long and costing too much money. It can take more than eight weeks to get permission to extend a property.
But director at CPRE Protect Kent, Hilary Newport, said the system is there for a reason and extensions without neighbour consent could cause disputes.
She said: “Sometimes there are very good reasons why they say no to a development. Enabling homeowners to build extensions is headline grabbing, but is not a solution to the problem.
“This is a short term resolution to something that does not warrant ripping up the planning system which has served us perfectly well.”
Builder Paul Hayward from Thanet Build said that he doesn’t think the plans will make much of a difference as people cannot afford to extend their homes.
He said: “I think it’s more to do with financial restrictions rather than the red tape. Homeowners will still have to go through building regulations anyway so it’s not enough.”
Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce chief executive Jo James said the announcement will help businesses, but that they still need financial help.
She said: “The measures on the whole are a positive and can unblock some of the barriers to build. They do not address the main issue around encouraging development, which needs the access to finance to make things happen.
“If easing the planning progress is to create employment, then it has to be a positive move, but unless the continual problem of access to business finance is not sorted then it will not have the desired outcome.”
North Thanet MP Roger Gale said the plans will speed up the process and benefit small building firms by providing them with more work.
He said: “I think the planning process is hopelessly over regulated. There is a significant deterrent - if you know you have to spend hundreds and sometimes thousands getting planning consent, you get to the point when the cost of the process costs more than the project.
“I think quite a lot of people will say, right, now bureaucracy is out of the way we can get on and get it done.
“It’s not going to be earth shattering, but it will make a difference. It will encourage employment for small builders. There is a huge amount of work for small builders in extensions.”
MP for Folkestone and Hythe Damian Collins said: “I think the whole thing about letting people build in their back gardens without permission is a good thing. Councils can be clogged up with minor applications; this will clear more resources for bigger projects which take more time.”
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