Government Finally Launches Consultation On Extensions `Free For All`

Date Published 19 November 2012

The long-awaited consultation into whether to allow people to extend their homes without having to get planning permission has finally been launched.

The ‘conservatory’ scheme has already met with opposition from some town halls, which say the plans will create a planning free for all resulting in neighbour conflict and lead to ugly extensions, which could actually devalue properties and blight neighbourhoods.

The idea was first suggested in early September, with ministers saying it would ‘boost the economy’.

Now, over two months later, the consultation paper has been published, proposing that it should be made quicker, easier and cheaper to build single-storey extensions and conservatories by extending permitted development rights.

Planning minister Nick Boles, announcing the consultation, said that the reforms would, for a limited period, slash planning red tape, sweep away unnecessary rules and bureaucracy and help tens of thousands of home owners and companies.

He said that most of the 200,000 home owner applications submitted each year are uncontroversial, with almost 90% approved.

But, he said, home owners were forced under the current rules to fill in complicated application forms that can take eight weeks or longer for the council to consider.

Boles said that safeguards will remain to ensure any impact on neighbours and communities is acceptable. The new rights will not apply in protected areas such as National Parks, conservation areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest and do not remove the requirement for separate listed building consent.

He said: `These proposed reforms will make it easier for thousands of hard-working families to undertake home improvements to cater for a growing family or to build a conservatory.

`Home owners and businesses must be allowed to meet their aspirations for improving their homes and premises, but this won’t be at the expense of neighbours, communities and protected areas.`

The proposals will save householders £150 in planning application fees.