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Planning officers have a vested interest in opposing planning relaxation

There has been a widespread misunderstanding about the easing of planning restrictions on conservatories and home extensions. The point is that it applies to cases which currently need permission, but where that permission is overwhelmingly, routinely, granted.

The proposals will only relate to single-storey extensions/conservatories, and there will still be a need to have a space with the curtilage of the property. Building regulations, the Party Wall Act, and common law on the right to light will still remain. The proposals will not apply in conservation areas.

In other words, the easing will apply to non-controversial home improvements. Matters where the council's planning officer will take the decision without it reaching the Council's Plannning Applications Committee.

So why make the change? Why bother with this automatic "Permitted Development Right"? The reason is to reduce the cost and hassle of home improvement. It is not just the planning fees - perhaps a couple of hundred pounds, but the extraordinarily detailed information that planning officers demand from architects. Of course, builders will need guidance from an architect but not on the scale of mind-numbing complexity demanded by planning officers.

It follows that if this futile use of planning officers' time is removed, then councils will not need to employ as many planning officers. All these planning fees for routine home improvements are an enormous make-work scheme for bureaucrats.

Building a conservatory is both a symbol of aspiration and something to welcome aesthetically. Some may not like their neighbour building one. But if he is already entitled to do so, does it really make sense for him to be put through a lot of unproductive time and expense with much the same result?


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