Planning restrictions on home and business extensions are to be eased by the Government as part of a package of measures to help kick-start the economy, David Cameron and Nick Clegg announced today.

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Mr Cameron pledged to get the planning system “off people’s backs” and revive the economy by easing restrictions for homes and businesses.

Tens of thousands of families will be allowed to extend their properties by up to eight metres without gaining full permission, and rules on shops and offices expanding will be loosened.

Obligations for including affordable housing in new developments could also be waived where they are holding projects back.

The move was welcomed by John Fuller, Conservative leader of South Norfolk Council, although he insisted it did not mean the planning system in the county was broken. He said: “Let’s not lose sight of the fact that people already have permitted development rights for conservatories and extensions already, so this is really just building on what is already there.

“I don’t think we should get carried away with the notion that planners have not played their part because we have and we are.

“We know that for every house built that creates 2.1 jobs, not only with the building of the home, but in people getting kitchens fitted, carpets put in and so on.”

On the issue of affordable homes, he said councils already negotiate with developers over ratios and insisted the changes would not make councils a soft touch when it comes to dealing with them in the future.

But Labour insisted the government was “kidding itself” that the package would shake the country out of its malaise, while the Local Government Association said it was “a myth” that the planning system was blocking house-building.

Under the changes, full planning permission - required for extensions of more than a few metres from the rear wall of any home - will only now be needed for those beyond six or eight metres, depending on whether it is terraced or detached.

Claire Stephenson, leader of the opposition Green group on Norwich City Council, said the changes would not produce the economic boost the government craves, but would diminish democracy. She said: “I think these proposals are extremely worrying. There’s a tried and tested planning system at the moment and there are very good reasons for it. “It’s a democratic system and if somebody objects to their neighbour’s extension plans, their views will be taken into account.

“These changes mean people could potentially build quite large extensions without having to go through that process and that could have an effect on people who live around them.

“I think the government is being quite short-sighted, as I don’t think that’s going to deliver the economic boost they say it will.”

Ministers have also decided that developers will no longer have to wait five years to apply to change affordable housing requirements if they are making sites “commercially unviable”.

However, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg insisted the change would be more than compensated for by extra government investment to support the building of more affordable homes.

Mr Clegg said of the change in social housing restrictions: “Instead of having developers sitting for five years on useless land where nothing has happened, no young people are being employed on construction sites, no affordable homes are being built, no new houses are being built for first-time buyers, we are saying ‘Let’s undo that knot at an earlier stage’.

“Our calculations are that there are some sites where they will be able to proceed without building affordable homes. That is why we are putting up £300m to more than make up for any loss.

“The net effect of all of these proposals, let me be very clear, is more, not less, affordable homes.”

The prime minister said: “This government means business in delivering plans to help people, build new homes and kick-start the economy.

“We’re determined to cut through the bureaucracy that holds us back. That starts with getting the planners off our backs. Getting behind the businesses that have the ambition to expand. And meeting the aspirations of families that want to buy or improve a home.”

Mr Cameron said he wanted to help the people “in their thirties living at home with mum and dad desperate for that starter flat or house”.

However, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the treasury Rachel Reeves said: “With our economy in a double-dip recession and a serious housing crisis, the government are kidding themselves if they think these announcements are up to the scale of the challenge.

“We need to get Britain building again, but the government has slashed the housing budget and the number of affordable homes being built is down by 68pc. And they have failed to deliver many of the infrastructure projects they announced last year.

“If ministers really want to help homeowners and small firms, why don’t they listen to our idea to cut VAT to 5pc on home improvements, repairs and maintenance?

“And why do they refuse to repeat the bank bonus tax to fund the building of 25,000 affordable homes and 100,000 jobs for young people?”

And the Local Government Association (LGA) has said it is a “myth” that the planning system is blocking house-building.

New research published today by the association reveals a bumper building backlog of 400,000 new homes which have received planning permission but have not yet been completed, with building yet to start on more than half of approved plots.

The LGA says the current rate of construction it would take developers three-and-a-quarter years to clear the backlog by building all of the new homes local authorities have signed off.

To find out what this could mean for Norfolk see tomorrow’s EDP.

Tell us what you think about the plans by leaving a comment below.

19 comments

  • One would hope that building regulations will still apply but I agree that it will lead to extensions in inappropriate materials and possibly of non standard design if the relaxation of the rules is complete. A worry is the number of infill developments and extensions which could get automatic planning permission but devalue neighbouring properties. If developers are holding 400,000 plots in their land banks the problem hardly seems to be a planning problem but one of getting mortgages. Building affordable housing is not much good if it is all bought by buy to let landlords who then rip off tenants for more rent than mortgage repayments would be if they could get one.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • The thing that worries me most is the fact that this gives anyone licence to extend and if they do not have much capital, many extensions will be 'do-it-yourself' jobs! That's OK if you have the correct qualifications but many amateur builders will be trying to save a bob or two here and perhaps risking lives in the process.

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    Sandy.L

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • "Will government’s new planning rules kick-start the economy or open the door to unwanted developments?" Bradwell parish council & gt Yarmouth borough council have been approving unwanted developments for years, so no change there then. As for section 106 monies, Bradwell parish councils answer, write a wishy washy grovelling letter to Gt Yarmouth BC to ask if Bradwell can have some of the money, that is rightfully theirs anyway !.

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    "V"

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I'm afraid I think they are making this up as they go along.

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    Trevor Ashwin

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • If planning departments actually knew their own policies then there wouldn't be delays and no need to change anything. Unfortuantly different answers will be given to any planning query depending on which officer you speak to. Try for yourself, call Broadland with a question and then call back to speak to another officer with the same question, you will get opposite answers. Competent planning departments applying existing policy would mean end of problem and save millions.

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    Homes4locals

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • The BBC is carrying a story that the planning relaxations will also apply to street furniture installed by telephone and broadband companies on public land.And that local councils will no longer be able to object or veto. So presumably anyone with a large enough grass verge outside their home could see a broadband or telecomms cabinet go up under their front window-and the article suggests they are commonly around five feet high. Better broad band ok, but this is a charter to devalue ordinary homes for an easy fix.

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    Daisy Roots

    Friday, September 7, 2012

  • This is yet another silly Tory-Coalition knee-jerk "policy" which will do little good but cause untold harm through the unintended consequences of such ill-considered notions. There are many and better things they could do without stooping to this nonsense, but of course those things wouldn't promote the kind of society divisions and class warfare that the Tories need to divide and rule.

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    T Doff

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • i may be forgetful but was this in the Tory manifesto?i disagree with random and wholesale building on green sites.

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    bookworm

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Wouldn't it be a good idea to provide the young people who would like to settle down together, if the government built loads of houses and rented them out. They could call them....Council Houses.

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    Al Gurgleman

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Do not know what happened with my last posting. It seemed to have copied itself en route. Sorry about that.

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    norman hall

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • It will be very wrong if this government is to meddle with Section 106 agreements. These bring so many advantages to towns - like affordable housing, social housing, and playground facilities. We need more affordable housing - not less - yet this could be a repercussion of these proposals.

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    Jono

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Cameron and his coaltion sidekicks have attcked the planning regs., from day one.Mainly to allow the wonderfully protected Green belt to be destroyed. This latest gimmick is the latest little wheeze. It is hard to imagine the eyesores that will be built and pity the poor neighbours who will suffer. Why the obsession with construction of houses ? Could it be in the Tory party's interest to pamper the big builders,Cameron and his coaltion sidekicks have attcked the planning regs., from day one.Mainly to allow the wonderfully protected Green belt to be destroyed. This latest gimmick is the latest little wheeze. It is hard to imagine the eyesores that will be built and pity the poor neighbours who will suffer. Why the obsession with construction of houses ? Could it be in the Tory party's interest to pamper the big builders? How about this for a novel idea Cameron . Slash taxes and let the people have the money to spend or save as they wish. Let the smallest companies create the economic recovery. All sound construction is built on solid foundations from the bottom up. Not the other, Tory, way.

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    norman hall

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Whatever credibility the coalition parties had in being part of "the greenest government ever" has surely gone.Eric Pickles has already said there is "presumption" in favour of developments.Cameron has certainly shifted the odds toward Cory over at Lynn.They called this localism,part of The Big Conversation.Whatever happened to that?

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    Peter Watson

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • I expect that the requirement to build a percentage of affordable housing will fall by the wayside and that the code for sustainable housing will continue to be ignored by planners and developers alike.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • And I see comments are pulled on the Hickling article but it is deemed ok to carry Norman Lamb's comments even though he cannot possibly have the full facts at his disposal. It seems that there wasn't an EDP reporter at the meeting that one of the contributors mentioned-would have been in the old days.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • One big thing that doesnt seem to be mentioned is people can only build extensions if they have the money. People do not have the money to commit and mortgages are still not that easy to come by. Once people see job security they will start to plan. A mortgage is a big enough debt without adding to it with extensions.

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    jennifer jane

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • Labour would cut VAT on home improvements, repairs and maintenance to 5% to help home-owners and small firms. Isn't that a more logical approach than "relaxing" laws?

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    Jono

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • cameron and the coalition have delivered exactly the same as the last labour goverment.. . Total failier

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    milecross

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

  • The VAT charged on repairs, insulation and solar technology should be set aside for the remaining time of this Government, till 2015. This would give homeowners a chance to plan their spending and a fair chance to industry to get going again.

    Report this comment

    bedoomed

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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