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 737.

    8m - this is terrifying. Most of us can't afford builders services to extend but for builders themselves easy. Just get your mates round every weekend for three years, destroying neighbours enjoyment of their properties, and presto, huge houses to block neighbours light. Don't suppose they're paying any tax or VAT to builder mates. How on earth is that supposed to boost the economy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    717.Johnny Norfolk
    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.

    Thats a rather outragous sweeping statement. A truer statement would be that most "voters" are not able to improve their homes because they cannot afford it, as they do work but get paid a darn sight less than you obviously do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    People building extensions onto smaller houses instead of moving isn't going to help first-time buyers into the housing market.

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Do people realise that BTL landlords can offset their BTL mortgage against their rental income BEFORE they pay tax on it - therefore outbidding the rest of us who pay tax on our income and THEN have to pay the mortgage.

    No wonder we are all paying rent. Think of the cheap as chips affordable houses that landlords would be forced to sell back into the system if you removed their tax advantage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    Rules that restrict an extension to no more than 50% of a property's garden will remain.That's me out it's 50% of the property's land mass as most modern houses are built to with in an inch of there allowed amount relaxing is only any good for posh toffs with big houses & gardens! normal family 2 adults 2 kids we are stuck! Banks will not lend! even though house is paid off!

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    Well, i am sorry to see that the politicians really do not get it - again. I just hope that there is not a spate of building next door to me, cutting off my sunlight and enjoyment of ( sometimes) blue skies when there are no planes landing at Heathrow ( most of the time). Where will this lead - not to a theriving economy that's for sure. Hey Ho - who to vote for at the election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    I'm actually starting to get really concerned about the number of ill judged announcements from Cameron and his chums.

    I can't quite decide whether they've either lost the plot, or they're actually being very clever.

    Are there any politicians out there are more concerned about the common good, and less concerned about protecting their own interests?

    This situation is becoming dangerous..

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    We need houses people can afford to buy. We need lower rents so loding housing benefit doesn't make taking some jobs marginal. But lower prices for houses messes with so many people who have borrowed agaisnt the rise in value.

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.


    Yes you do own your home and have every right to extend it! But you do not have the right to harm your neighbours quality of life by building a massive extension, which it may do. Hence the regulations! Whether or not an extension is acceptable does not require an architectural qualification but an understanding of its setting and how an extension can impact on others!

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    I am very concerned about this. We do live on a small island; with a limited amount of land to house our growing populatation, as well as the wildlife that we hold dear. If we want to make sure this all fits in in the future we have to vett developments and plan ahead. The combined effect of everyone building without consideration for their neighbours, and the environment is worrying.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    Maybe we should scrap VAT on everything! While we are at it, scrap income tax. Best way to avoid a recession.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    Why on earth are we endeavouring to build more dwellings when this country we cannot sustain it's current population equitably.

    August 22nd 2012 was 'Earth Overshoot Day', the day when humanity exhausted nature’s budget for the year.

    Everybody feeling good ?
    Rather wet this year don't you think ...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    We dont have a governement anymore - just a board of directors, who do the bidding of thier shareholders (who get all the dividends) - sadly the general public are simply non-preferential creditors in this appalling arrangement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    They just dont get it do they. Clegg, Alexander, cameron and Osborne, they all dont get it. You can try and bury it but the the truth will come up to the surface eventually. Skirt around the issue with Mary portas and shopping centres and adjustments to planning but in the end people wont commit cos they aint got the money or fear job losses.Its the economy stupid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    I'm glad the Queen can now build that conservatory on the side wall of Windsor Castle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    559. tearsoverintegrity
    342 Chrisk50,

    yep, I`ll lend you 10K @ 5%.
    Can`t get 5% anywhere.

    Sorry took so long, been out surveying the estate - well tending the garden anyway.
    Thanks for the offer, that will be the groundworks covered, you may be onto something here, lets lend to each other at a rate acceptable to both parties, forget about banks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    Yes about time! Councils or large companies can build what they like. The average home owner has little say about what they can build or not build. It is totally wrong that the planners can have an opinion on your property as to whether they LIKE your plans or not. Well done Government!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    The impact of this temporary relaxation will cause permanent harm. I am a Planning Agent and I do not believe this proposed change is helpful. Many homeowners can't afford the extensions that are Permitted Development now, why does the Government think that increasing the size will boost the market? Removing the VAT for a time will inject confidence, affordability and faith in this sector.

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    I agree that paying 20% VAT on labour and materials is a big barrier for homeowners. Why not halve it to 10% for building work. Then you might see a boost and also less black market cash payment avoiding VAT altogether. I suspect the government are rather hoping for a VAT boost in their coffers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    Many of our oldest towns stuffed every nook and cranny with anything they could get away with. The result is a wonderful mess of styles, shapes, colours and ideas.

    These days, if it does not "conform" you cannot build it, add to it, convert it, update it or even believe in it.

    Planning regulations should not choke off development or pander to nimbys

    But cowardly town councils do exactly that


Page 24 of 60


More Politics stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. 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.