New Planning Rules Could Lead To 'Ugly Extensions'

Councillors ask government to change its mind

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Local councillors have expressed their fears that new planning regulations which make it easier for householders to carry out building work without planning permission could lead to "a rash of ugly extensions."

The leader of the Conservative Party on Hounslow Council, Cllr Peter Thompson, has written to the Communities Minister Eric Pickles to express concern over the new proposals, with the backing of Labour councillors.

The Government plans to allow increased development rights for extensions to homes and businesses in non-protected areas. The letter states; “At a meeting of our The Council last week a motion was put forward opposing and asking the Government to review its proposals “to extend permitted development rights for homeowners and businesses” which as you know, will particularly allow homeowners to make larger extensions to their homes without requiring planning permission.

“Both Labour and the Conservative Groups unanimously supported the motion because, like Richmond Council, we wish to safeguard the quality of the built environment in our local area and believe that a rash of ugly extensions will crop up as a result, giving local residents no opportunity whatsoever to have their say.

“ We strongly urge you to re-consider this policy in the interests of localism and a sustainable environment.

The Government is consulting on increasing the size limits for the depth of single-storey domestic extensions from 4m to 8m (for detached houses) and from 3m to 6m (for all other houses), in non-protected areas such as Chiswick, for a period of three years.

Cllr Peter Thompson, who moved the motion at the meeting, has said while he agrees with the Government that stimulating the construction industry is essential to economic recovery, this proposal is not the answer.

“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 get rid of this vital mediation process in a large number of cases.

“It would be totally wrong if applications that are rejected due to objections from neighbours or because they were judged to blight the neighbourhood could now, under these plans,  sneak back in unimpeded.

“Just think what effect an 8 metre extension close to boundaries would have in terms of its overlooking bulk and its impact on light.  How would householders affected by such extensions feel when they are told there is nothing the Council can do to protect their amenity? “

December 10, 2012