Fears new planning laws could ‘blight’ Redbridge landscape

Changes to home extension rules are a limited improvement and may lead to “out of character” developments which could “blight our built environment”, according to one Redbridge Conservative councillor.

Extensions of up to eight metres on detached properties will be subject to a new and easier consultation scheme – which means only immediate neighbours will be able to object. The government had previously said the extensions would be allowed without any consultation.

Cabinet member for planning and public protection, Cllr Alex Wilson, said: “Before, my biggest concern was that there that was no scope for people to object, which was unacceptable.

“I welcome the change but I am interested to see how this will work in practice. The best outcome would have been to drop the idea altogether.”

Under the new proposal, the council must decide whether a development would have an “unacceptable impact on neighbours’ amenity” should objections arise.

Cllr Wilson added: “If neighbours don’t object, the plans can go ahead without the usual consultations.”

Ron Jeffries, chairman of residents’ group Aldborough Hatch Defence Association, said: “What worries me is that a decision will be based on the whims of local councillors. I hope they realise that people in Redbridge really respect their gardens and know how important they are to them.

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“I also think this could cause tremendous problems between neighbours.”

Redbridge Council wrote to the government to express its “strongest opposition” to the proposed three-year relaxation of planning laws earlier this year.

It had concerns over unwanted developments, neighbour disputes, damage to the character of local areas and removal of decision-making powers from the council.

Chairman of Cranbrook Residents’ Association, Lorraine Silver, added: “This bill is a step too far. People should be able to extend their properties but they have to do it in the correct manner so that it doesn’t have an adverse impact on your neighbours.”