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Planning shake-up will mean rows with next door
RELAXING rules on house extensions could cause neighbour disputes in Worcester, say planners.
Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday pledged that tens of thousands of families will be allowed to extend their homes by up to eight metres for single-storey extension without full permission.
Rules on shops and offices expanding will be loosened and obligations for including affordable housing in new developments could also be waived where they are holding projects back.
Councillor Geoff Williams, chairman of Worcester City Council ’s planning committee, said the decision may mean more people stay in their existing home and have it extended rather than move.
He said: “It could lead to more neighbour disputes. I suspect there will be a lot of people looking over their garden fences thinking, ‘What is my neighbour going to do?’”
Coun Williams said he believed delays in housebuilding schemes were caused by people struggling to afford deposits for mortgages rather than delays in the planning system.
Paul O’Connor, development services manager at Worcester City Council, said 95 per cent of all house extensions, of which there are about 250 a year, were approved. About 95 per cent of these extensions are dealt with within the eight-week deadline.
He said, if introduced, the scheme would lead to “modest” savings to applicants of £150 (the cost of submitting an application), when the average cost of an extension in Worcester is roughly £11,500, which covers plans, building regulations and construction.
Mr O’Connor said: “There is the potential for some extensions which will have an effect on neighbouring properties. There will be a lot of sympathy for those people who are adversely affected. In the overall scheme of things it’s not going to be a huge issue.”
Mr O’Connor also said the Government view that the loss of affordable housing was a price worth paying for the success of a housing scheme also raised concerns as there was need for such housing locally.
He also said some delays – where schemes had been approved but not yet built – were not caused by the planning system.
Under the scheme 16,500 first-time buyers are also to receive help getting on the housing ladder under an extension of the FirstBuy scheme, where would-be homeowners without a deposit are given an equity loan of up to 20 per cent.