Home extension plans amended

Home extension plans have been amended to address concerns that relaxed planning rules will cause disputes between neighbours.

Government plans to ease planning rules in England for three years have been amended to give neighbours the right to be consulted on building work.

Three year relaxation announced last year

Ministers announced last year that they wanted a three-year relaxation of the planning rules to allow single-storey extensions of up to eight metres for detached houses and six metres for other houses to be built without planning consent being required.

They argue that this will bring economic benefits and boost the building trade.

Angered local authorities

The proposal had angered some local authorities.

Labour MPs objected to the plans and a number of Tory & Liberal Democrat MPs have expressed concerns over the planning reforms.

They believed it would create disputes between neighbours and warned that the current plans risked "opening the floodgates" to thousands of unsightly house extensions.

Amendment announced

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has now announced that the proposed planning reform has been amended to take these concerns into account.

This announcement comes after 26 coalition MPs voted against the government last week (on Tuesday 16h April 2013).

Neighbours to be consulted

Under the revised scheme, homeowners wishing to build extensions under the new powers would notify their council with the details and the local authority would then inform the adjoining neighbours.

If the neighbours do not object the development can proceed, but if they do raise concerns the council will have to consider whether it had an "unacceptable impact on neighbours' amenity".

Allowing council to keep some control

Mr Pickles said this would allow ward councillors to be involved.

The application could also be considered by a planning committee, as is the case in the current planning process, if the council deemed it appropriate.

Mr Pickles said the approach would build consensus, ensure uncontroversial projects were fast-tracked and save householders money.

The Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith - a leading critic of the government's proposed changes - welcomed the watering down of the plans, calling it a "sensible approach".

The amendment will be debated in the House of Lords when the Growth and Infrastructure Bill returns there on Monday 22nd April 2013.

What's next?

It will be interesting to see what happens on Monday. Keep an eye on our blog as we’ll likely revisit the subject once an announcement has been made.

Tell us what you think of the government plans.

If your neighbour could build any extension they liked would you be happy?

What do you think of the revised plans; are they a more sensible approach or will they see planning committees retain control?

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