As part of a recent range of measures aimed at boosting house building, jobs and the economy, the Government has proposed a three-year relaxation of permitted development rules and the renegotiation of existing planning obligation.
A motion agreed unanimously by Assembly members warned that allowing home owners to build extensions without planning permission could cause lasting damage to the built environment and cause neighbourhood disputes. The Assembly said local authorities are best placed to manage the development of land and buildings.
Members also urged Johnson, in his capacity as the strategic planning authority for London, to ensure the London Plan gives enough support to local authorities to enforce existing planning controls to protect back gardens and prevent unsuitable developments.
Caroline Pidgeon, who proposed the motion, said: “This motion sends a clear message that we believe local authorities are best placed to manage the development of land and buildings in their area. Councils will only be able to improve the character and integrity of their local area by retaining the right to refuse permission for development – including extensions – where it is considered inappropriate.
“London is not short of conservatory extensions; it is short of affordable homes. The proposed policy simply wouldn’t create a big enough boost to the construction industry to justify potential and lasting damage to our built environment.
“While the intention to make planning cheaper, quicker and easier is laudable, the fundamental problem is not with the planning system, but rather with stalled housing developments. It is estimated that there are enough approvals in the system for 400,000 new homes, however these new proposals would remove the requirement for developers to include affordable housing if they prove they make a site ‘commercially unviable’.”
Darren Johnson, who successfully amended the motion, said: “We are concerned that these proposals, which come at a time when local authorities are trying to clamp down on unauthorised structures, could lead to the loss of back gardens and an increase in ‘beds in sheds’. We are also concerned that it could fuel an increase in neighbour disputes. If anything, local authorities should be given more support to protect back gardens and prevent unsuitable and unsightly development and we call on the Mayor to recognise this in his London Plan.”