On 12 November 2012 the Department for Communities and Local Government published proposals extending the current permitted development rights for extensions to houses which would remove the need to apply for planning permission for development falling within "permitted" dimensions and criteria. The effect of the changes would be, in certain circumstances, to double the size limits for the depth of single-storey extensions for detached houses from 4 metres to 8 metres and from 3 metres to 6 metres for all other houses in non-protected areas for a period of three years.
The Committee examined the Government's reasons for the changes and the impact assessment it produced to support its case for change. On the Government's argumentsthat the need to submit planning applications for small domestic extensions was unnecessary and the changes would speed up development and reduce coststhe Committee finds that the Government's assumptions are so tentative, broad-brush and qualified as to provide little assurance that the financial benefits suggested will be achieved.
In addition, the Committee found that the Government has failed to address or evaluate the social and environmental arguments put forward against the proposed changes. Its approach has therefore disregarded two of the components of sustainable development as set out in its own National Planning Policy Framework.
The Committee was uneasy that the changes were for three years. In its view, the effects of the changes in terms of new development on neighbours and localities will be permanent. The Committee calls for the proposed changes to be subject to a fresh and extensive consultation which should include a range of options for change, if the Government decides to make a permanent alteration.
If against the Committee's views the Government persists with its proposals, the Committee suggests a number of changes that must be made.