Reforming the planning system – more Government proposals

Relaxing the rules on home extensions

9 May 2013

9 May 2013

Larger home extensions: neighbour consultation scheme

On 9 May 2013, secondary legislation was laid before Parliament which will increase the size of single-storey rear extensions which can be built under permitted development, and will bring into force the associated neighbour consultation scheme. This draft guidance is issued to provide initial information on how the scheme will work. The Householder Permitted Development: Technical Guidance will be fully updated once the secondary legislation has been approved by Parliament and has come into force.

Read the full text of the draft guidance.

19 April 2013

As the Bill progressed through Parliament the House of Lords sent the Bill back to the Commons with a request that local councils be allowed to opt out of the permitted development changes. The Secretary of State made a number of changes while stopping short of the full opt-out favoured by the Lords. Civic Voice asked for our comments as they drew up their response to the new proposals. Our Chairman wrote (19 April 2013):

We would welcome the suggested improvements which Eric Pickles is presenting, as an improvement over the original proposals, however, these improvements address only one of the objections we raised – namely, the indiscriminate loss of amenity of current, immediate neighbours. We listed a large number of other issues which led us to object to the original proposals for the relaxation of PDRs, and Mr Pickles’ proposed amendment does nothing to address any of these.

His letter does not define ‘neighbour’, or ‘amenity’ and provides no details of the basis on which Local Planning Authorities are to decide on what might constitute acceptable levels of loss of amenity. His suggestions do nothing to safeguard long-term considerations, such the adverse effects on the architectural character of a neighbourhood. At the same time, Local Planning Authorities will still be involved in any disputed cases, with corresponding bureaucracy, but will receive no fee. If the measure is to have any effect in increasing development activity, LPAs will have an increased workload and less remuneration.

The amendments suggested would appear to apply only to domestic situations; the potential implications we have previously pointed out for flooding potential, as a consequence of the uncontrolled significant increase in hard-surface run-off has not been addressed, and is particularly valid for the proposals affecting commercial and industrial premises.

This is a brief response illustrating some of the inadequacies of the suggested amendments to the proposals for relaxation of PDRs. We will give the matter further consideration and respond more fully in due course.

Peter Thompson

Chairman, Oxford Civic Society

3 September 2012

As part of the Government’s aim to streamline the planning system, the Department for Communities and Local Government is introducing more reforms. Permitted Development Rights (under which minor developments do not require full formal planning permission) are being significantly extended.

For a three year period, home owners and businesses will be able to build much larger extensions without planning permission. For example, an extension of up to 8 metres (over 26 feet) can be built on a detached house without requiring planning permission. Our experience of examining hundreds of planning applications for house extensions every year suggests that this relaxation will result in many bad extensions being built with hurtful consequences for neighbouring properties.

The reforms will also permit the reuse of existing and redundant agricultural buildings for shops, businesses, offices and leisure uses. More flexibility will be allowed for changing between uses within specific classes as well as introducing rights to allow temporary uses for up to two years of redundant and vacant buildings.We had hoped that the Government’s decisions would reflect the concerns of civic societies across the country, including our own, but this has not happened.

The Government is also removing requirements for developers to include affordable housing, if they can prove that affordable housing makes a site “commercially unviable”. In the City of Oxford, where the demand for affordable housing greatly exceeds supply, we view this proposal with alarm.