Thousands of home extensions, which were previously blocked because they were unsightly, out of character with a local area or invaded neighbours' privacy, may now go ahead unimpeded under plans to extend permitted development rights, the Local Government Association (LGA) warns.
The LGA is also concerned that extensions which would previously have been improved through the planning process in order to make them acceptable to neighbours and reduce their negative impact on local amenities will in future go ahead unaltered, resulting in inappropriate development and increased friction between neighbours.
Local authorities approve nearly 90 per cent of all planning applications they receive from householders but the green light is often only given once negotiations have removed unacceptable impacts from the original development plans. Last year, of the 200,000 applications councils received from householders, only around 22,000 were rejected outright, with the majority of the remaining extensions either approved straight away or after minor amendments were made.
The Government has proposed to increase Permitted Development Rights for extensions to homes. The LGA is calling on the Government to scrap the plans which could result in inappropriate developments and contribute to issues like the loss of garden space, flood risk and ecological damage.
Cllr Mike Jones, Chairman 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.
"We agree with the Government that stimulating the construction industry is essential to economic recovery but this proposal is not the answer. We need to tackle the housing crisis and that means freeing up lending so first-time buyers can secure mortgages and developers can borrow to build. The Government should also lift tight restrictions on local authority borrowing so councils and housing associations can raise money to invest in new homes."
Author: Dale Atkinson
Contact: Senior Media Relations Officer, Local Government Association Media Office, Telephone:020 7664 3283
15 October 2012