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Concerns raised about new planning proposals

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 22, 2012

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COALITION government plans to make it easier for homeowners to build larger extensions and conservatories would result in an "uncontrolled planning shambles", council chiefs have claimed.

Cheltenham Borough Council is to write to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to express its opposition to the proposals.

They would see planning rules tweaked to make building easier as part of a wider bid to boost economic growth.

But councillors fear it will reduce their control over development and result in a planning free-for-all.

Councillor Andrew McKinlay (Up Hatherley, LD), who proposed the motion to fight the plans, said he believes if the measures are put in place they will lead to the 'potential loss of control' over planning matters.

He said: "It is a matter that just about every council in the country is concerned about. We are seeking to be part of the national campaign to try and get Mr Pickles to change his mind. If you are living in St Paul's it would mean that you could effectively double the depth of your house without needing planning permission. That, I think, would be a serious problem.

"The single most serious and threatening thing that Mr Pickles is proposing is the taking away of planning powers from local authorities where the process appears to be slow or of poor quality.

"It is a major threat to every council in the country.

"What we would be left with is an uncontrolled planning shambles that we would spend the next 30 years clearing up."


The Government has said the changes would get Britain building and consequently give a much-needed shot in the arm to the UK's economy.

But that notion has been dismissed by the leader of Cheltenham Borough Council Steve Jordan.

He believes to suggest the planning system in its current guise is constraining economic growth is a 'delusion'.

However, leader of the Conservative group Councillor Rob Garnham (Park, C) said many of the fears over the changes were unfounded.

He said: "This is a threat to councils who don't do the job. It is a threat to councillors who do not do their job. It would be used in exceptional circumstances. Up and down the country there are some councillors who won't make decisions."

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  • Coingrass  |  October 23 2012, 9:18PM

    Where's the evidence that existing planning rules are putting off individuals or firms who would like to build very large conservatories or extensions? It seems to me that anyone who can afford the cost of an oversize conservatory isn't going to be put off by the relatively minor cost of applying for planning permission for it. As for the 'hassle' of applying, any decent builder would take care of the planning permission for the customer and just add the cost to the bill. No, this is just another ill-considered 'initiative' by 'Call-me-Dave' that hasn't been thought through, won't make much difference to the building trade anyway and should be quietly dropped. Next thing you know he'll be calling off the badger cull and telling us that he's going to stop people getting 25% off six bottles of wine! It was said that Blair believed the last thing that anybody told him and it looks like the heir to Blair is following suit.

  • Bonkim2003  |  October 23 2012, 4:23PM

    Ultimately CBC can do what it pleases as long as it has a properly consulted local/community/neighbourhood development plan clearly stating how it wants to shape its area and allocate spaces/review permitted development, etc, to facilitate - not deter development for anticipated community needs over the foreseeable future - the main problem will be if it does not have a clearly thought through and agreed plan, will fall foul of the new simplified planning regulations which applicants can cite in any planning appeals.

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  • agent006  |  October 23 2012, 1:02PM

    My god, the moaning. I presume the three of you will be standing at the next council elections so you can overhaul CBC's planning process. No? Thought not. Far easier to moan at the council as if it's some faceless body rather than actually try and change things.

  • softtabor  |  October 23 2012, 12:28PM

    CBC are not fit and proper persons to oversee planning and it is right and proper that the government take planning from them.

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  • Matt1006  |  October 23 2012, 11:34AM

    We're talking about proposed relaxation of the Permitted Development rights here, which is part of national planning policy. Therefore, if the proposed changes do come into force, can an individual Local Planning Authority legally ignore the new rules, and continue working to the old ones? Could be trouble ahead... If the new relaxed PD rights do actually come into being, it will allow much bigger extensions to be built without the need for Planning Permission, BUT only where properties have existing Permitted Development rights available. Not all do. Plus of course Building Regulations consent will still apply, and this isn't going to be relaxed. So I suspect there will be some who will fall foul of the regulations if the relaxation in PD does come in, and ignorance will be no defence. It will be good news for the smaller building companies, as people stay put and build a big extension instead. Less good for the bigger house builders, as growing families won't need to move into a new bigger house. Swings & roundabouts. There is concern about monstrous extensions popping up in back gardens if this comes about. But even if they don't need Planning Permission, they will (mostly) still need to be designed by professionals, and there's still the requirement for Building Regs consent. There will be a few eyesores which slip through the net, though...

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  • Grahambarker  |  October 23 2012, 11:14AM

    HAHA CBC needs first to look at the way in which it treats its residents when communicating on current planning issues Recent corrspondence and jargon beggars belief and when CBC decide they can talk to us in plain english without our having to employ a solicitor or oxford don just to decipher their lovingly preserved red tape - then perhaps the ECHo can tell us and we'll put the flags out. CBC - STOP PATRONISING US.

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  • Bonkim2003  |  October 23 2012, 1:08AM

    Some local councils are torpedoing this welcome move from the coalition government though. Not just helping the building trade which is to be encouraged, but also helping those that can't afford to move to a larger property but need more space for growing families. Why can't councils like Cheltenham understand that there is a huge housing problem out there, waiting lists for social homes bursting, and rents escalating by the month and most spending ever larger part of their income on housing. The main contributor of high house prices - misplaced planning restrictions. Developers love development control as that ups the price of their land-bank. Get Real Cheltenham and other council planners.

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