Thousands of Redbridge homeowners have built extensions under 'no permission needed' planning rules
PUBLISHED: 07:33 05 June 2019 | UPDATED: 09:10 05 June 2019
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Thousands of homeowners in Redbridge have taken advantage of new laws allowing them to build bigger extensions without planning permission, new figures show.
Controversial temporary planning rules known as permitted development rights are now set to become permanent, following a government announcement in May.
The rules allow homeowners to build single-storey extensions of up to 8m across without a full planning application being considered by the council.
Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows that 3,796 extensions have been built in Redbridge using the rights since April 2014, when figures were first published.
Former Redbridge councillor for Hainault, David Poole, said the reforms will provide "much-needed simplification" of the planning process, but more needs to be done about enforcement.
Mr Poole said: "Over the years the planning laws in this country had become unnecessarily complex and needed total reform - the reforms that have taken place have allowed removal of red tape and provided much needed simplification and streamlining of the planning process.
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"What is of significant concern however, is the apparent inability or unwillingness of some local authorities to enforce the planning permissions granted, this leads to tensions between neighbours when planning breaches are discovered, yet no enforcement action is taken, something that desperately needs to change."
The Local Government Association added that the initiative strips people of the ability to shape their communities and ensure quality homes are built.
Martin Tett, LGA planning spokesman, said: "Permitted development rules are taking away the ability of local communities to shape the area they live in, and ensure homes are built to high standards with the necessary infrastructure in place.
"We do not believe this right should be made permanent until an independent review is carried out of its impact, both on neighbouring residents and businesses, and also the capacity of local planning departments."
Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP said: "These measures will help families extend their properties without battling through time-consuming red tape.
"By making this permitted development right permanent, it will mean families can grow without being forced to move.
"This is part of a package of reforms to make the housing market work - and sits alongside our drive to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s."
The newly enshrined rights also allow business owners to change shops to offices, while commercial spaces can be temporarily changed for community uses such as a library or public hall.