Bigger Extensions to Save the Economy
House-building and public works have recently been spoken about as one method to kick-start the construction sector in the England but the latest idea from the Coalition Government is a little lower key.
Today, the news out of David Cameron’s reshuffled cabinet is that changing the rules on the size of extensions is one way forward out of the economic doldrums the country finds itself in.
The Government is currently consulting to relax the planning regulations for a period of three years so that builders can build bigger extensions to homes and businesses.
Currently the rules state that extensions extending beyond more than 3 or 4 metres from the rear wall of any home need full planning permission. Under the new proposals, for three years, that limit will be extended, doubling the limit from 3 to 6 metres on semi-detached houses and from 4 to 8 metres on detached houses.
The move is hoped to get planning officers "off people’s backs" and allow the construction industry more room to build and thus presumably generate more work, jobs and revenue.
In addition to these proposed changes the government is introducing another £280 million extension to the FirstBuy scheme to get more first-time buyers onto the property ladder by giving would-be owners without a deposit, an equity loan of up to 20% of the purchase price.
Regarding affordable homes, the government is relaxing the laws requiring developers to provide a proportion of affordable homes – If a property developer can provide proof that the provision of affordable housing is not commercially viable then they will not be forced to provide the affordable aspect.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, acknowledged the crisis in the construction sector and admitted that the new plans might be seen as controversial, but said that something had to be done to "get Britain building".
The moves have been welcomed by the National Housing Federation as a "major step forward" saying that the proposals had the potential to "transform" the housing market.
The opposition were of course extremely skeptical of the plans with the Local Government Association (LGA) supporting them in kind by adding that it was a "myth" that the current planning system was a barrier to the building sector.
LGA figures show a backlog of some 400,000 new homes in the pipeline which have planning permission but are not yet being built and are urging central government to imprive access to mortgages and finance.
The LGA have also made it clear that, whilst relaxing planning may make it easier for people to extend and for builders to get work, councils must retain enough powers to ensure that the extension s don’t get out of hand and that they do not spoil the character of local areas.