Plymouth council boss: we will fight planning change proposals
LABOUR councillors have vowed to fight Government moves to relax the planning system.
"We will resist any plans to take our powers away," Plymouth council leader Tudor Evans has warned.
The proposals, announced by the Government last week, will allow home owners to build an extension up to eight metres from the rear of their property – without seeking permission from council planners. They will also make it harder for the city council to stop developments it disapproves of.
They "are a set of ill thought out and incoherent plans", Mr Evans told a meeting of Plymouth City Council's Cabinet.
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He said that while the Government was talking about "localism", it was coming up with measures to take away local planning powers.
Last year 462 household applications were processed and determined in Plymouth and 54 of them were refused.
"We are talking about the economic saving of our city being done on the basis of selling 50 sets of patio doors," Mr Evans said.
He said the change would "set neighbour upon neighbour", and he promised to resist.
Mr Evans has asked Cllr Bill Stevens, chairman of the planning committee, to report on the implications and options for the council.
The Prime Minister last week announced a package of measures which he said would "get planners off people's backs".
Under temporary rules to be put in place next month, the limits on single-storey rear extensions and conservatories that can be built without planning permission will be doubled.
Loft conversions are excluded from the new rules, which apply only to single-storey extensions.
Ministers also said that they want to make it easier for developers to build new housing developments and other major projects.
They are to publish legislation proposing changes to the planning appeals system that will make it harder for residents to hold up developments.
Councils are also being encouraged to allow more building on green belt land.
"People will have no say if their neighbour wants to build something that completely blocks their light or is incredibly intrusive and not in keeping with how an area looks," Mr Evans said, adding that the Government should instead to do more to target developers who have permission but whose work has stalled.
"There are more than 6,200 plots in the city with planning permission but where work hasn't started or is incomplete. That is not planning getting in the way of progress. It appears that the new centrepiece of the Prime Minister's economic strategy is now to get everyone into more debt by getting them to build extensions and conservatories and converting their lofts."