Local opponents of new regulations to allow large home extensions without planning permission will be watching developments closely when revised proposals are debated in the House of Lords on Monday after last week’s promise by the Government to listen to the objectors.
Following a rebellion by Tory and Lib Dem MPs in the debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, has tabled revised plans which allow a greater freedom for local people to object to house extensions.
The plans, which attracted strong local objections in Croydon and Hackney, proposed 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.
Under the revised scheme announced by Pickles on Friday and now to be discussed in the Lords on Monday, 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”.
The original aim of the amendments to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill, said the Government, is to boost the construction industry but opponents argued that it would encroach into the spaces between homes in many instances.
Professor Jane Holgate of Hackney Planning Watch said: “The relaxation of planning laws may be an exciting move for the house extension industry, but for many people it will mean greater encroachment into the space around their homes.
“It is likely to cause even more disputes between neighbours who object to the intrusion that these larger developments will have on their ability to enjoy their gardens.”
In spite of the fact that Pickles had promised to adapt plans to relax planning laws, 16 Tory MPs and 10 Liberal Democrats rebelled against the proposed change. Local Labour MP’s Diane Abbott (Stoke Newington) Heidi Alexander (Lewisham South) Dame Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford) and Steve Reed, (Croydon North) were among those who voted against the alterations.
The Tory rebels, led by Richmond Tory MP Zac Goldsmith, warned that the Government faces defeat if the proposals do not answer their concerns.