Planning rules on extensions to be relaxed 'to boost economy'


Nick Clegg: "This is a big set of measures which will lead to more affordable homes"

Related Stories

The government wants to get planning officers "off people's backs" with a relaxation of current rules in England.

The government will consult on allowing people, for a three-year period, to build larger extensions on houses - up to 8m long for detached homes.

Rules on shops and offices expanding and on developments having to include affordable housing will be relaxed as ministers seek to boost the economy.

But Labour says that ministers are "kidding themselves".

The proposals, it says, are "not up to the scale of the challenge" and do not address the real problem of a "lack of confidence and demand in the economy".

Affordable homes

And the Local Government Association says it is a "myth" that the planning system was stopping house-building.

Government proposals on housing-building

  • Consult on a three-year relaxation of planning rules on extending homes and business premises.
  • All householders would be able to build 6m long extensions without planning permission (it's currently 3m)
  • Removing requirements for developers to include affordable housing - if they prove they make a site "commercially unviable".
  • An extra £280m for the FirstBuy scheme to help would-be homeowners with a deposit.
  • A new bill to provide £40bn in government guarantees to underwrite major infrastructure projects and £10bn to underwrite the construction of new homes.
  • Funding of £300m to provide 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use.
  • A new "major infrastructure fast-track" for big projects.
  • Putting poorly performing council planning departments into "special measures" and allowing developers to bypass them if they fail to improve.

It released figures which show a backlog of 400,000 prospective homes which have planning permission but have not yet been built. It says these "conclusively prove" the planning system is not holding back development.

The coalition, which has undergone a reshuffle this week, is looking for ways to boost the economy and end the ongoing recession.

Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg have announced that 16,500 first-time buyers are to receive help getting on the housing ladder under an extension of the FirstBuy scheme.

Under this, would-be homeowners without a deposit are given an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price.

Just a few months ago the government rewrote the entire planning framework for England, after fierce initial resistance from countryside campaigners.

Now ministers want further changes to planning in England in an attempt to boost house-building and revive the economy.

The announcements come as the economy continues to languish, with the recession now having lasted more than nine months. The construction sector has performed particularly badly.

Mr Cameron said: "This government means business in delivering plans to help people build new homes and kick-start the economy.

"We're determined to cut through the bureaucracy that holds us back. That starts with getting the planners off our backs, getting behind the businesses that have the ambition to expand and meeting the aspirations of families that want to buy or improve a home."

He told ITV's Daybreak developers were being held back by the "many obligations" on them to build affordable housing.


From those who usually complain the loudest about the "housing crisis" - a surprisingly positive reaction.

It's true that some business organisations would have liked to see more radical action to speed up planning.

But fresh from the battle over the national framework earlier this year, the government backed away from another full-scale confrontation. So this programme tinkers with the rules - and targets specific areas seen to be holding back the builders.

Housing associations thought the government would actually go much further, in removing the requirements to build affordable homes. They're also delighted with the extra billions for investment.

But many still say the economy, rather than government initiatives, will ultimately determine how many homes are built.

Under the government's plans, if developers can prove these requirements make a site commercially unviable, the conditions will be removed.

There will be a one month consultation on allowing homeowners and businesses, for a three-year period, to be able to build much bigger extensions without planning permission than they can at present.

The new Permitted Development Rights would make it easier to install conservatories and loft extensions without going through weeks of planning bureaucracy.

If the plans go ahead, full planning permission - required for extensions of more than three or four metres from the rear wall of any home - would only be needed for those reaching beyond 8m for detached homes and 6m for others.

Rules that restrict an extension to no more than 50% of a property's garden will remain.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles told the BBC that the extension rule changes would benefit local businesses as well as householders, as new carpets and furnishings would be needed for them.

Businesses would be able to expand shops by 100 square metres and industrial units by 200 square metres.

There will also be £300m of additional funding to provide up to 15,000 affordable homes and bring 5,000 empty homes back into use.

'Conservatories not an economic plan'

Speaking on BBC Breakfast, Nick Clegg said the government was putting forward a "big set of measures" to boost house-building but accepted some of the proposals would be controversial.

"We have a real crisis. We're not employing enough people in the construction sector. The construction sector has had a really hard time of it.

"We're not building enough homes. We're not building enough affordable homes. We've got to take some of these difficult decisions - yes, even with some controversy around them - to get Britain building."

Infographic showing house and extension limits

The National Housing Federation, which represents England's housing associations, welcomed the package of measures as "a major step forward" with "the potential to transform the housing market".

"It will provide homes for some of the millions of families on waiting lists, create jobs and give the UK economy a shot in the arm with a speed and effectiveness few industries can match," the group said.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Ed Balls launched an attack on the coalition's economic record and set out what they see as the start for a fundamental rethink about how a future Labour government would approach the economy.

As big a shift in thinking is needed now, Mr Miliband said, as happened after the second world war and in the late 1970s.

"Instead of a change of direction," Mr Miliband said "we get increasingly complex schemes and initiatives".

"Someone in New Labour said if you want to understand aspiration you need to understand conservatories. They were right about that.

"But a one-year holiday from the current rules on planning for a conservatory extension of up to eight metres into a garden which is what the government is announcing today, does not represent an economic plan."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    Its only the labour voters that will hate this as they see people being able to improve their houses and they cant because they do not work.

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.

    Another feeble sticking plaster.

  • rate this

    Comment number 715.

    Back to back housing - coming to a street near you soon!

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    The main problem at the moment is not so much the price of houses but the difficulty of getting a sensible mortgage. It is possible for renters to afford to pay more than the equivalent monthly cost of a mortgaage and still not be eligible plus requiring an impossibly high deposit. Planning laws were introduced to protect our environment. Tricky economics? Oh we'll just ignore them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.


    Building Regulations are complicated to the layman. The trick is to get a qualified and experienced person to draw and submit the plans. This will cost you more but it's well worth it in the long run. There are cowboys in this area too so beware of "a friend of a friend in the pub who does plans etc". Use a proper architect : much better in the long run.

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    Watch the grand construction projects start in all the newly appointed Tory Ministers' homes. They're toasting their good 'fortune' as we speak.

    Google Earth is your friend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    Breaking News - All homeowners must build mandatory skyscrapers wherever they can as a plan to boost the economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    From my own experience, the FirstBuy scheme is being abused by developers who rack up the price of a house before selling the 80% share. First time buyers in negative equity from day one. Cracking idea!

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    Proves that politicians haven't got a clue. Allow building without control on quality, but witth no real price incentive.

    I presume that they will keep planning requirements to renew your drive, another job for the jobsworth and more of a disincentive as a like-for-like replacement carries builders cost, VAT and planning costs!

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    another no brainer-the planing laws are there for a reason to keep all the d*ckheads in check-granted there is a "jobs worth"attitude in some cases they can be tweaked hear and there but let commonsense dictate not a goverment bankrupt of good ideas-i see carbuncles sprouting everywhere-essex and places of this nature will go completely over the top-horrible extensions done by bob the builder

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    If Mr Cameron believes allowing massive extensions to the rear of houses is going to improve the economy then this country really is in trouble. The reason the current regulations are in place is not to burden the public with the planning process but to ensure extensions do not detrimentally harm the amenity of neighbours. I am sure all our MP's would love an 8m extension along their boundary!

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    This is moronic. As already mentioned, the problem is that people on average earnings are being refused Mortgages. I can't get on the property ladder despite having a steady job for 10 years & deposit of almost 50%. This rule change will not boost the economy. The property market will continue to flatline because 1st time buyers are still priced out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    Good idea - I was thinking of building an asbestos recycling plant next to Chequers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    676.anthonygh well off property owning individuals in detached properties.. who will no longer need to have regard for their neighbours feelings.
    I wonder what % might be traditional tory voters.

    Quite a substantial amount I would imagine. If only more council houses had been built to replace those sold off under the last Tory govt, then maybe there wouldn't be such a shortage now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    This 'temporary' relaxation of the planning regulations seems like those in power helping out a few mates as a favour before the regulations revert back.

    I don't for a minute believe they are doing this for the economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    No482 Nautonier,
    'Nasty property spivs'.
    Are they the ones that sit next to the masses of investment bankers on the Tory Tea Party Trots in the House of Commons.

    Yes - some of them and/or their spouse(s), sons/daughters, family, friends, sponsors etc - I just happen to dislike most of the Tories less than I dislike most of the Liebore Party

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    ''Removing requirements for developers to include affordable housing - if they prove they make a site "commercially unviable"

    So does this mean that builders will only build unaffordable housing?

    Businesses don't sell things that people can't buy - you need the demand first. Right goods, right price.

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    The main problem with housing in the UK is that it's over-priced, therefore people struggle to get onto the so-called housing ladder and the market seizes up. With base rates an abnormal 0.5% and with money being pumped into the system nothing is going to change, in fact the position could deteriorate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    681. annaj464

    Anna I see you got a negative vote ---Why? to that person.

    Building regs are mandatory, full stop.

    If you do not abide by the regulations expect a very expensive result, the worst case pull down and start again. One reason that planning officers are useful, they advise on the regs needed. If you plan to extend get someone very smart on current regulations or suffer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    Dear Boxer's,

    Squeaker speaks for Napoleon: "Of course it's the Vet's van. He only bought it from the Knackerman recently, and the regulations requiring to be repainted have been suspended to help the economy."


Page 25 of 60


More Politics stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.