More than 100 homeowners in Burnley 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.
But the Local Government Association said the initiative strips people of the ability to shape their communities and ensure quality homes are built. Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government data shows that 136 extensions have been built in Burnley using the rights since April 2014, when figures were first published.
Permitted development rights doubled the limit for the depth of a single-storey rear extension when they were introduced in 2013 – from 4m to 8m for detached houses, and from 3m to 6m for other domestic properties.
But after concerns were raised, a neighbour consultation scheme was introduced by the then Government. Homeowners now have to flag up the work they want to do with the council, which then informs the neighbours. If they object, the council can decide whether to grant or block the proposed development, but if no concerns are raised, the work is given the green light without a full planning application.
Of the 140 proposals submitted in Burnley, 125 were waved straight through, 11 were granted after concerns were raised, and four were refused, with Martin Tett, LGA planning spokesman, saying: “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.
“While we recognise building extensions under permitted development has been popular with homeowners, the planning process exists for a reason," he added. "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."
Across England, 127,747 domestic extensions have been put forward for approval since 2014 under permitted development. Of these, 65% were given the thumbs up straight away, 18% were granted after consideration, and 17% were refused.
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.