UK Politics

Councils urge ministers to U-turn over extensions plans

Image caption Planning changes could lead to "friction" between neighbours

Councils across England are calling on the government to abandon its plan to allow larger home extensions without planning permission.

The Local Government Association warned the proposals would "give the green light to unsightly development" and cause "friction between neighbours".

Last month Downing Street announced a consultation on easing the rules on home extensions of up to eight metres.

Ministers had said the "vast majority of councils would approve the changes".

There is currently a three or four metre limit on extensions without planning permission.

Conservative-run Richmond council had already criticised the plans. At their party conference the Liberal Democrat rank and file also voted against the proposals. But the full extent of the rebellion in local government is now becoming clear.

When he launched the policy the prime minister said it was a signal that the government "means business in delivering plans to help people build homes and kick start the economy". He said excessive bureaucracy was holding back the "aspirations of families that want to buy or improve a home".

But the Local Government Association is concerned that extensions which would previously have been improved through the planning process in order to make them acceptable to neighbours would in future go through unaltered.

Local authorities approve nearly 90% of all planning applications they receive from households, but the LGA says the green light is often given only once negotiations have removed unacceptable impacts from the original development plans.

The LGA said the policy could contribute to issues like the "loss of garden space, flood risk and ecological damage".

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