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 797.

    All this shows is how stupid and out of touch our politicians are , and they appear to be trying to con us that they are out to better our lives while they fiddle their expenses.
    In case they have forgotten the economy is in a complete mess with no one able to borrow money from the banks ,and every day prices are killing us all , no one has any spare cash to do this due to living costs

  • rate this

    Comment number 796.

    VAT on building materials that has to lowered rather than opening the floodgates on the planning laws which are in place to protect and regulate unscrupulous development..
    I own a sixth share of a 140 year old property in a conservation area. Roof needs replacing and have to use a certain slate to maintain appearances. No council grants available and the 20% VAT will stop the repairs being made.

  • rate this

    Comment number 795.

    763. daveKane
    Current planning legislation leaves me pining for the New World, where the nouveau riche can build their house, rather than simply buy into the dreams of yesteryear.
    If you don't like it here, don't pine, just emigrate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    Having suffered at the hands of a neighbour that built a 3m extension, loft conversion & outbuilding under the previous permitted developments rules, I'm confident that this will just lead to problems. Permitted development gives neighbours no avenue for consultation or objection & from what I've seen, no right to see plans prior to building. No planning permission tends to mean poor design too..

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    So relaxing the requirements for developments to include affordable homes will lead to more affordable homes being built? Welcome to Cleggworld!

  • rate this

    Comment number 792.

    697 Dr Ged

    'I'm disgusted at Clegg going along with this'.

    Don't be. Danny Alexander explained it all on World at One. Localism is still very much Lib Dem policy but sometimes local councils don't do what Government wants so the Government steps in to make sure they do. So locally elected councils are even more free to do as they are told from Westminster. Good old Cleggy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    Nick Clegg was a hope for some common sense in coalition, sadly he has been a total letdown, that party has lost my vote for ever. Deregulating building and green belts being used, fuel costs, hammering benefits. I cannot wait to 2015 to hear his lame excuses for the total extinction of the Libs at the polls.

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    We don't need more house extensions, gardens, driveways and open spaces adjacent to our homes are being gobbled up; more homes are required

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    But where will all the children in these newly extended larger family-sized homes go to school? Schools are full in so many places - often particularly where affordable housing is in short supply - this needs to be addressed properly and simultaneously with the housing shortage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    Abysmal decision. I appreciate planners get a lot of stick and some of the planning laws are barmy, but they are there fundamentally to uphold the public's best interest. As an Architect I have witnessed that it is not planning laws that have hindered projects, it is securing finance and private clients having lost their jobs that have stalled the funding of projects.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    Estate agents, the removal industry, and the like will be delighted - the law of unintended consequences....

    Bloody useless, every party, all the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.

    736 No point arguing with idiots. The greedy & dense will always convince themselves whatever they want to steal is good for 'UK PLC' & the only objectors are the workshy and unwashed.

    I have a senior private sector job and do long hours making real money for this country - not speculating on others honest toil and skimming it all off to tax havens. Unlike those who fund the Tory Party nowadays

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.


    Affordable housing is necessary otherwise millions of people will be forever priced out of the property market. The population is expanding so without sufficient house building the problem will only get worse. Your attitude suggests that your "investment" is more important than giving people a roof over their heads.

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    @734: People pay rent with after tax income so it is a level playing field. Private landlords provide affordable housing to many who CHOOSE to rent.

    Home ownership in the UK is amongst the highest in europe!! What are you complaining about??!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    What a bunch of stupid ideas. Was the burst housing bubble not part of our economic problems? So the housing sector should be the pillar of recovery?
    & to make sure that average wage earners can't join in developers don't need to include affordable housing anymore while councils are encouraged to sell existing social housing!
    Maybe tax breaks for building houses worth more than £1m will be next..

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    That doesn't sound very "green" does it Mr Clegg...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    Back to 'jobs planners keep locked in filling cabinets' hey? Tory's in revert to type shock!
    Most large building projects that ever get knocked back by 'planners' are appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, a central government department. Essentially it is central govt who have the say in 90% of contentious refusals anyway.
    I wish somebody would get this incompetent government off my back.

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

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

    So it can sunstain its current population equitably.
    some areas have a housing shortage for the current population.
    but I don't see this plan fixing that,

  • Comment number 779.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    Whats plain is that when god gave out brains he missed these people right out. They couldnt start a car let alone a recovery of anything.


Page 21 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.