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Lords accept revised home extension proposals

The House of Lords has backed Government proposals to introduce a "light touch neighbours' consultation scheme" for home extensions. Following the Lords' insertion of a clause into the Growth and Infrastructure Bill which would let local authorities opt-out of proposed rights to allow home extensions up to eight metres, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles last week said the proposals would be revised.24 Apr 2013

Pickles subsequently sent a letter (2-page / 51KB PDF) to MPs proposing to introduce a neighbours' consultation scheme along with the new permitted development rights.

Under the scheme, homeowners would notify the local authority of their planned extensions and the council would inform adjoining neighbours. If any neighbours raised objections, the council would then consider whether the planned extension would have an "unacceptable impact on neighbours' amenity".

The House of Lords discussed the proposals on Monday and agreed a motion to introduce the scheme. Communities Minister Baroness Hanham, who announced the plans to the Lords, said that the Government had been "clear from the outset" that it was important to ensure any impact on neighbours would be acceptable.

"This amendment makes it possible for the Government to put in place protections for neighbours where adjoining homeowners seek to use our proposed
extension to their permitted development rights," Hanham said.

"Adjoining neighbours - not just the ones on either side but those who adjoin the rear of the property as well - will now be consulted where a homeowner wishes to use the new extended permitted development rights to build a good-sized extension."

"If neighbours think that the proposed extension will have an unacceptable impact on their amenity, they can ask the local planning authority to consider this - for example, if they think that it would totally overshadow their living space or that they would lose their privacy due to overlooking windows," Hanham said.

"Where neighbours raise concerns with the local authority, it will then consider the impact of the proposals on the amenity of those neighbours. It will make an objective decision on whether the development is acceptable or if the impact on neighbours' amenity is such that it should not go ahead under permitted development rights," she added.

The Government's plans to extend permitted development rights were first announced last September as part of its major housing and planning reform package. The plans were subsequently set out in a consultation paper launched in November last year.