News: Household planning restrictions to be cut

Planning restrictions for home extensions are set to be eased where neighbours do not object to the project.

Ministers are particularly concerned to make it simpler for householders to easily add energy saving devices to their homes such as wind turbines and solar panels.

A new government steering group report says the number of household planning applications has more than doubled over the last ten years yet the vast majority of these are approved with no objection at all. These planning applications create unnecessary costs and delays for householders as well as taking up time and resources for local planning authorities.

The review also says that the need for applications for extensions should be judged on their impact rather than volume or size. Current rules say that if you have already extended your home you may need planning permission for a simple dormer window or conservatory. These rules can also permit developments that overshadow or intrude on privacy simply because they meet arbitrary volume limits.

By focussing on impact, the government is looking to remove unnecessary applications whilst increasing protections for neighbours. This means the planning system can focus more resources on major developments.

Housing and planning minister Yvette Cooper said: "It is absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house but should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale micro-generation which is no more obtrusive and can have a real impact on tackling climate change."

"We want far more micro-generation to be treated as permitted development and we also should be able to simplify the system for small developments such as extensions."

The government plans to consult on detailed proposals in the autumn. Any changes to the system will come into effect in 2007.

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