UK Politics

Home extension deregulation plans 'may go on longer'

Image caption Ministers say the changes will help stimulate the construction sector

The government has said it might continue a scheme allowing larger home extensions without planning permission beyond the proposed three-year period.

Minister Nick Boles told MPs it could be retained if "everybody is happy".

Some councils have warned the scheme - for England - will be a "free-for-all", but Mr Boles said he did not "see it as a crime against humanity".

The government says changes to planning rules are necessary to ensure the construction industry can prosper.

Last month Downing Street announced a consultation on easing the rules on home extensions of up to eight metres. There is currently a three or four-metre limit on extensions built without planning permission.

'Miserable time'

During questions from the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee, Mr Boles said this would not remove the need for complying with building regulations and the rule that no more than half of a garden can be used for an extension.

He added it was "not a free-for-all", saying: "This government thinks the way to support growth is to cut regulation in order to encourage entrepreneurial activity."

He went on: "We want to encourage people to do these extensions in the next three years because the construction industry is having a miserable time. We want to support them."

Mr Boles said: "If, at the end of three years, it's become completely acceptable... and everybody is happy with it, then we may continue and keep it in place.

"We are looking at having it it for three years [so that] it will stimulate activity."

He told the committee that people were put off extending, and adding value to, their homes by expensive planning procedures, with applications costing around £2,000 on average.

Mr Boles said: "Is it really such an appalling thing to take an extension on a terraced house from three metres to six, when it's single-storey and it cannot use up more than half a garden?

"I think it's a liberalisation. That's what we intend. We came into power to do things like that.

"I don't see it as a crime against humanity."

Committee member Bob Blackman, the Conservative MP for Harrow East in north-west London, disagreed, saying that the 10% or so of extensions which were turned down by councils would be permitted under the scheme.

He added that the "right-to-light" regulations for urban developments could also be compromised.

Conservative-run Richmond council had criticised the plans. At the Liberal Democrat party conference members also voted against the proposals.

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