Thursday, 13 December 2012

Council fights Government extensions policy

GOVERNMENT plans to let homeowners build bigger extensions without council permission must not be approved, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council is set to tell ministers.

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The authority is to tell the Government the plans – for extensions like conservatories - could harm neighbourhoods.

Ministers want to extend the depth of single-storey extensions which need council permission from four to eight metres for most detached houses and three to six metres for other houses.

Larger extensions would also be allowed for business premises.

The council’s response – to be agreed tomorrowsays: “This council does not support the extension to permitted development rights as the intended benefits are not of sufficient scale and certainty to outweigh the potential harm caused to neighbours and wider communities which are not otherwise adequately safeguarded.”

It urges “alternative means of boosting the economy by encouraging building projects be pursued through fiscal measures, for instance reducing or suspending VAT on extensions”.

In October, councillors warned the plans could “potentially lead to neighbour disputes by removing the right to object and could result in unsightly and inappropriate development”.

The Government has said the current rules involve “complicated forms” and a decision can take eight weeks, although 90 per cent are approved.

It says: “The application process adds costs and delays, and in many cases adds little value.”

The plan means householders “will be able to undertake home improvements to cater for a growing family or look after an elderly relative without unnecessary costs and bureaucracy”.

It would also benefit the building industry, it said. The new rules would not apply on protected areas, such as conservation areas, which cover part of Knowle.

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