Relaxation of planning laws could lead to neighbour disputes, says Wirral council leader (From Wirral Globe)
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Relaxation of planning laws could lead to neighbour disputes, says Wirral council leader
COUNCIL leader Cllr Phil Davies has warned of likely garden wall confrontations and neighbourhood disputes if the government press ahead with plans to relax planning laws and allow people to build major extensions in back gardens.
The proposal – a key factor in the coalition’s housing strategy – has run into fierce opposition from town hall chiefs across the UK.
The Local Government Association, which represents more than 400 councils in England and Wales, has pledged to block the plans.
They warned that the measure could result in "unsightly and out-of-place" developments.
Cllr Davies said: "Clearly a head of steam has built up within local councils to get a government re-think. We will watch the situation very carefully."
He went on: "I can see big problems ahead if we allow householders willy-nilly to put up sizeable extensions without requiring planning permission and generating a lot of opposition from neighbours and local residents.
"I can understand how local people would find the government proposals objectionable.
"In the past they had the security and comfort of applications going through the planning process. This could lead to a lot more neighbourhood disputes."
The proposals, unveiled by the government last month, would relax the rules which detail what does and does not need planning permission and allow property extensions up to eight metres in a bid to encourage growth in the construction sector.
Local Government Association spokesman Mikes Jones said: "This policy potentially gives the green light to unsightly and out-of-place development without delivering a big enough boost to the construction industry to justify the potential damage.
"The planning process works to ensure development is suitable for a local area and doesn't unduly impact neighbours."
Planning minister Nick Boles said: "The Planning system needs to strike a balance between the rights of the homeowner and their neighbours.
"Our proposals will make it easier for thousands of hard-working families to undertake home improvements to cater for a growing family.
"It will help generate new business for local construction companies and small traders."
Homeowners can currently build a 10ft extension at a terraced property and 13ft at a detached house – without planning permission.
Prime Minister David Cameron wants these limits doubled to 20ft and 26ft for a three-year period.
Last year councils rejected outright only 22,000 of the 200,000 applications they received.
The LGA fears that without scrutiny these failed schemes would now go ahead.
Mr Jones said: "We agree with the government that stimulating the construction industry is essential to economic recovery, but this proposal is not the answer.
"We need to tackle the housing crisis and that means freeing up lending so first-time buyers can secure mortgages and developers can borrow to build."