Planning made easier?

Mike Cosy
Mike Cosy
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MIKE Cosy of CoseyRentals explains thinking behind the new planning proposal.

DAVID Cameron is saying that planners and planning departments slow down economic revival and prevent construction activities. He said that he wants to “get planners off peoples back”.

The measures proposed by the government are allowing the detached house owners to have extensions to the back of their houses up to 8m in length or 6m with other houses without permission.

The proposed temporary abandonment of certain planning regulation is to also encompass business premises.

The government will consult on allowing people, for a three-year period, to exercise a set of relaxations which include “conservatories” extensions, shops and offices expansions and on developments and affordable housing.

Ministers are intending to boost the economy by these measures. But Labour says that ministers are “kidding themselves”. The National Housing Federation, which represents England’s housing associations, welcomed the measures.

The proposals include putting poorly performing council planning departments into “special measures” and allowing developers to bypass them if they fail to improve.

Those who oppose the Government are pointing to a backlog of 400,000 prospective homes which have planning permission but have not yet been built. They argue that these figures prove that planning system is not holding back development.

The developers may say that they are not acting on their existing planning permission because the banks are not lending to them and neither lending to the prospective buyers. This issue complicates the picture and detracts from deciding who is right in relation to planning matters.

Governments proposal under “FirstBuy scheme” which allows 16500 first-time buyers to receive help getting on the housing ladder has been mentioned as consistent and complementary to planning initiatives.

Under “FirstBuy scheme”, homeowners without a deposit are given an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price.

Some critics would say that the measures proposed are not drastic and fundamental enough but rather temporary and limited. There are even those who would ridicule the whole government proposal as “conservatory” mentality (relaxation on conservatories)