Date Published 26 September 2012

A majority of people believe Government proposals to remove the need for planning permission for extensions would reduce the quality of their neighbourhoods, according to a YouGov poll.

The poll was commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) before news broke that Richmond Council in south-west London voted against implementing any relaxation in planning rules.

The council's Conservative deputy leader, Geoffrey Samuel, told BBC Radio 4's ‘The World at One' that the move would be ‘deeply unpopular' with many residents.

He said: `This would double the size of the extension that can be built and give neighbours no opportunity whatsoever to have their say.`

The RIBA poll revealed that 54% believe the design of neighbourhoods would only get worse as a result of the new measures. Only 7% think it will get better.

The lack of public support for the measures mirrors the RIBA's concerns that the proposals go against the principles and commitment to quality design as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The RIBA is calling on the Government to ensure that, a part of its consultation on its proposals, adequate safeguards are in place to prevent poorly designed new extensions.

Ruth Reed, RIBA past president and chair of the RIBA Planning Group, said: `The Government's new policy is rushed, and if implemented could pave the way for poor design decisions which could damage our built environment for years to come.

`We agree that there is a need to reduce the red tape in our current planning system, but as the British public have clearly expressed, this policy change must be more carefully considered to ensure we make our neighbourhoods better not worse.`

She added: `People must be given the right to be consulted on the impact of significant development in their communities in a fair and efficient way.

`These reforms will create anxiety amongst communities who have been promised more local influence by this Government, not less.`