• Second council slams relaxed extension rules

    21st September 2012 | News | Claire
  • A second council has voiced its objections to the government’s proposal to allow homeowners to build larger extensions without the need for planning permission, branding the plan a ‘recipe for disaster’.

    The Liberal Democrat-run London Borough of Sutton has joined Tory London council Richmond in speaking out against the plans to relax permitted development rights for three years.

    Sutton Council leader Ruth Dombey branded the proposals “a recipe for disaster” which have not been properly thought through.

    “If this is allowed to happen it will set neighbour against neighbour and split communities for years to come,” she said.

    The proposals to allow home extensions of around six to eight metres instead of the current three metres, were announced earlier this month ahead of a formal consultation.

    The move was part of a package of measure to boost the economy unveiled by Prime Minister David Cameron.

    Earlier this week, the leader of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Lord True, said he had asked officers to consider ways to circumvent the “foolish proposals” if they go ahead.

    Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One yesterday, his deputy leader Geoffrey Samuel said the proposals would give neighbours no opportunity to have their say if homeowners decided to double the size of their extension.

    As well as responding to the consultation, he said the council would “trawl through” the regulations with a fine toothcomb and “see if there are ways of interpreting them, in a way that will be of greater benefit to our residents”.

    “I’d be very surprised if our concerns weren’t shared by a very large number, if not the majority, of councils,” he added.

    But planning minister Nick Boles claimed Richmond Council had “jumped the gun” on the consultation, adding that he was not worried about the opposition.

    He told the BBC: “We are trying to arrive at a better balance of the rights and interests of homeowners and their neighbours.

    “We think that if your kids grow up and don’t want to share a room anymore or your old mum moves in its absolutely right and proper to make it easier for you to put on a little bit at the back of your house so your family can expand when you can’t afford to move.”

    “We think that’s a good thing for government to do but will listen to anyone that has concerns,” he said.

    He added that the change in rules would have enormous benefits for local construction firms and small traders.