Whilst we all applaud the Governments attempt to stimulate the economy through housebuilding, and in particular the removal of affordable homes from schemes which are deemed to be unprofitable with an affordable element.
There is one concern I have which to me questions the sanity of the current Government.

That concern is the scrapping of planning permission for extensions to homes.
This to me sounds like a ‘light the blue touch paper and retire’ type of policy which will put neighbour against neighbour with the main beneficiaries being the legal profession!

The quality of such buildings will not be affected of course, as building regulations will still be required and are very strict. This is not a DIY’ers charter, but my concern is the breathtaking shortsightedness of the Government and the incredible ease for them to simply roll out another policy change after another.

What happened to localism?
Remember that being heralded immediately the Government first came to power?
If you remember they were looking at scrapping new build homes on garden areas.
I don t think anybody took it that seriously, certainly my development colleagues didn't, but who would have taken a bet on being able to build  a thumping great extension on your home without any planning whatsoever nor anybody’s objections being heard, virtually sticking two fingers up to the people who live next door to you? It’s unprecedented.

Clearly this is a very poorly thought out scheme which does make me worry that these folks seem to panic their way from policy to policy.

Looking at the wider picture this is also going to be divisive amongst neighbourhoods.

Most homeowners are strapped for cash and with mortgage companies not keen on lending money and the general financial drought within the banking system this can only benefit the comfortably off, or certainly those not feeling the pinch at the moment.
Even those with an 'A' start credit rating are not in the market to lend to.

My personal view is that there will be serious conflict here.
This is a massive gamble for them and they run a huge risk of alienating their main supporters, the middle England electorate.

Looking at my crystal ball I think their next move will be to shorten the time it takes to get planning, currently taking between 12 to 15 weeks  down to 10.

Any bets?!

Let me know what you think.

Have a great weekend.


5 Responses to Has the Government Gone Nuts?

  1. Richard says:

    Not quite as drastic as you anticipate Mike – after all politicians are cautious enough to float this idea via a consultation document and there will be some protections for ‘designated area’s / listed buildings’ and the like – what strikes me as odd though is if it’s good enough to lift constraints on ‘permitted development’ such as these proposals – then perhaps there shouldn’t be the constraints at all such as they are today – the government made a right pigs ear of the 2008 PD review, and their 2010 ‘technical guidance’ document was a half arsed attempt to interpret it’s own legislation and they made a right horlicks of that as well – so much ambiguity the planning consultants and lawyers will be feeding off it for years to come – on that point you are bang on the money! meanwhile of course the hapless homeowner / neighbour will suffer from the fallout.. nowt new there then! Hey Ho…

  2. A more fluent and efficient system must be adopted though so some changes are required. I have had permission refused due to a neighbour complaint when their real issue was another matter. It was just a technicality that they could utilise. This refusal was then overturned after an informal chat with the planning officer – who told me the decision was not black and White but rather subjective. Thankfully he ruled in my favour.

    Simply put: permission takes too long, it is too open to influence when the building is not the issue, the plan in officers (some of) act like bus drivers and think they are the single moat important person in the world – asking stupid questions like why are building an extension?!?! Mmm because I want to! Keep up the good work!

    Ps. Don’t then get me started on building regs!

  3. Catriona Pearson says:

    I think you are right, god knows what some people will put up – blocking neighbours light and ugly eyesores! It is certainly a green light to antagonise neighbours and even possibly cause problems for the neighbours when they try to sell! Removing affordable housing is good and will help one of our projects where we’ve had to apply to build on half the site to avoid social housing, and make the site profitable, now we can probably build the whole site out! I hope you are right about reducing planning time, our project should have been decided by mid July and still we are waiting, bring it on!



  4. Alison says:

    This government is no good at all. Potential first time buyers are locked into renting whilst they open up a free for all on planning. iWill they force people to pull down extensions that block light from windows of neighbours or create ugly extensions?

    They bail out banks and tax low and middle earners whilst giving high earner a big tax breaks.
    They are privatising our NHS and schools.
    They tried to sell of our woods have been closing down sports facilities and selling off school playing fiields.
    They have sacked staff from HMRC, Border Authorities and many other important services.
    Cameron should go and take his rich pals with him.

  5. Paul Lillie says:

    Hi Mike

    I read with interest the latest changes to the Planning system and particularly with the changes to extension. I haven’t reviewed the full proposals but my understanding is that the changes are limited to single storey extensions to the rear of the property.

    In 2008 Government relaxed planning rules for smaller extensions. Amongst Permitted Development allowed was read single storey extensions that could project 3m from the original wall for a semi and 4m for a detached. It these distances I understand have been doubled.

    This may appear extreme but there have always been a whole host of conditions that have to be complied with if you are to legally claim your extensions is Permitted Development.

    I understand these conditions will still apply and Intherefore feel the changes will have very little impact.

    The other matter is that the 2008 regulations are difficult to interpret and lots of people have fallen foul of the regs and been charged with illegal development.

    I think the issue is with the perception of the public that they can do what they want when it fact there is still quite a lot of regulation in place.

    Hopefully you find this interesting.