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Historic planning laws may be axed
HISTORIC planning laws which allow households to object to new development under a “right to light” rule could be scrapped – despite Worcester politicians saying it would be bad for the city.
The Government is considering tearing up existing rules which allow the public to speak out against possible new houses if it is deemed to be restricting natural light.
The right to light dates back to at least 1611 and is a common reason why many planning applications are rejected, including house extensions.
The Government believes removing the rule would encourage more development and help boost the ailing construction industry, as well as the economy.
Councillor David Wilkinson, deputy chairman of Worcester City Council’s planning committee, said: “We have declined many planning applications because we think a development would overshadow a neighbour or block out light.
“The right to light is part of the amenity value of where you live and we always consider it when we look at applications.
“The position I would take is that regardless of what happens with this I’m prepared to still use it as a reason for rejection. It’s important.” Under the rule a householder can use the right to light to stop a development as long as they have enjoyed unobstructed sunlight for 20 years.
It means they can potentially help stop everything from a new garden wall to a high-rise tower getting the nod.
Councillor Alan Amos, who also sits on the city’s planning committee, said: “It was used back in the Victorian era a lot and from my perspective is very helpful.
“I do think people should still have this right and I’ve always been against developments which are too dense.
“It’s a fundamental right and one that should stay in place.” Mayor of Worcester Councillor Roger Berry, who also sits on the committee, said: “As Worcester is an urban area this is particularly relevant – the right to light is about protecting people.”
The Government has repeatedly stated economic growth is being hampered by planning laws and that many old rules need updating to take into account modern needs.
The consultation is being led by the Law Commission, an independent body, and is backed by ministers.
Professor Elizabeth Cooke, from the commission, has said there is an important “public interest” in “modern, high-quality development”.
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