Pickles retreats over controversial plans for three year free-for-all on home extensions Plans for a relaxation on extensions 26ft or smaller had been the centrepiece of a package launched by David Cameron to boost the construction industryMr Pickles MP said that the size of extensions allowed could now be 'considerably less'
23:43 GMT, 13 December 2012
Retreat: MP Eric Pickles says that plans to allow homeowners to build home extensions without planning permission could be watered down
Controversial plans to allow homeowners to build giant extensions without permission could be watered down following a council backlash, Eric Pickles suggested last night.
The Communities Secretary said the size of extensions allowed without planning permission could be ‘considerably less’ than the 26ft originally proposed.
The three-year relaxation of existing rules was the centrepiece of a package launched by David Cameron in September to boost the construction industry.
Critics accused the Government of sanctioning a ‘free-for-all’ which would lead to an upsurge in neighbour disputes.
Councils also united against the plans, with the Local Government Association saying they would result in ‘unsightly and out-of-place development’ – and warning that local authorities would refuse to implement them.
In an interview with The House magazine yesterday, Mr Pickles said ministers had not reached a ‘final decision’ on the scale of extensions which would not need planning permission, and that the eventual proposals could be ‘considerably less’ than first announced.
Homeowners are currently allowed to build a single-storey 10ft extension without planning permission if they live in a terraced property, and one of 13ft if they live in a detached house. Mr Cameron had said these limits should be doubled.
Mr Pickles also hit out at the Tory-run LGA, describing it as a ‘sort of trade union organisation’ which repeatedly ‘cries wolf’.
Free-for-all: Critics said that the Government's plans would see a surge in neighbourly disputes (file picture)
He also voiced irritation at the continuing reluctance of many councils to reinstate weekly bin collections – an issue he has championed in Government. ‘Most people out there would like their bins cleaned on a weekly basis,’ he said. ‘It is such a drag.’
In a separate move, he declared victory in his bid to kill off Liberal Democrat plans to levy a ‘conservatory tax’ on people carrying out home improvements.
The proposals by former Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne would have forced homeowners to carry out energy-efficiency improvements when extending properties, converting lofts or garages, or replacing boilers and windows.
Announcing that the plans had been abandoned, Mr Pickles said: ‘I believe that this Government should stand up for families who have saved, work hard and want to improve their homes.’