Daily Mail -‘ministers have little understanding of the lives of families residing in suburban streets ‘

Daily Mail Comment

There are times when ministers must wonder if they can do anything right.

For two years, they were rightly criticised for failing to produce the radical policies so desperately needed to return the  flat-lining economy to growth.

Now they are being attacked for one of the few ideas they have managed to  come up with: relaxing planning laws to  allow large home extensions and conservatories to be built without the need for planning permission.

Undoubtedly, the Government was correct to focus on the need to create more work for the construction sector, which has been hit by a lack of house-building and infrastructure projects.

But, with Tory councils and MPs in revolt over the proposal, it’s increasingly apparent that David Cameron did not properly consider the consequences of unleashing a planning free-for-all on the residential streets of England.

For example, isn’t the building of extensions of up to eight metres in length – double the current limit – bound to pitch homeowners into battles with neighbours over the loss of privacy and natural light, not to mention destroying the architectural integrity of the neighbourhood?

Indeed, to deny homeowners the right to object to what amounts to dramatic changes, taking place in their own backyard, is the exact opposite of the localism the Tories claim to preach.

The entire policy suggests ministers have little understanding of the lives of families residing in suburban streets where properties are packed closely together.

Last night Planning Minister Nick Boles was in the early stages of a retreat – saying some councils would be allowed to ignore the edict if they could make a case their area was already over-developed.

He and Mr Cameron would be better served ditching the idea altogether.

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About andrew lainton

International Urban Planner

Posted on September 24, 2012, in urban planning. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Boles says he wll give “some” councils right to block big extensions – which ones and why?, Pickles says if they do, then sue them. Er, left hand, right hand – or should I say right hand and ultra right hand? Stronger words come to mind … cock-up being the only one printable.

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