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Lords insert opt-out clause for home extension rights into Growth Bill

An amendment to allow local authorities to opt out of the Government's plans to allow home extensions up to eight metres without planning permission has been inserted into the Growth and Infrastructure Bill by the House of Lords.28 Mar 2013

Peers approved the amendment on Tuesday at the third reading of the Bill by 217 votes to 211. The amendment enables a local authority to opt out if it thinks that extending permitted development in gardens to the extent of the proposals is not appropriate for its area.

Lord True, the Conservative peer who proposed the amendment, said he thought that the Government was "wrong to want to take away a neighbour's right to comment on an extension that could be 50% or technically in some cases a little more of a small neighbouring garden in a terrace".

"This proposal takes away a neighbour's right to have a say on a big and potentially overbearing extension shoved up outside their back door. What is more, it removes that vital process of moderation and conciliation that the local planning system provides in these matters," Lord True said.

"The rights being taken away are the rights of the neighbours to be able to appeal for arbitration from a local planning authority, and to ask the house owner who wishes to extend the property properly to take into consideration the interests, wishes and concerns of their neighbours," said Liberal Democrat peer Lord Tope during the debate.

"Why not, as the noble Lord's amendment suggests, just leave it to the local planning authorities in the first place? Let them decide whether permitted development rights of the type described should run," said Labour peer Lord McKenzie.

According to a report in Planning Magazine (subscription only), a spokesperson for the Department for Communities and Local Government has said that the Government will seek to overturn the amendment when the Bill returns to the House of Commons.

The Government's plans to extend permitted development rights to allow eight metre home extensions without planning permission 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.