Council leader slams extension proposals

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Planning Minister Nick Boles has conceded a number of English councils are likely to shun new coalition rules on building house extensions after the move was branded “foolish” by a Tory local authority.

Earlier this month Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced regulations would be loosened as part of strategy to boost building.

But the Conservative Richmond Council has confirmed it will block the changes, which allow homeowners to build bigger single storey extensions without planning permission, and claimed it expects a “majority” of English town halls to follow its lead.

Richmond Council leader Lord True has branded the move “very foolish” and his deputy Geoffrey Samuel said they would “trawl” through the regulations to find ways to block them.

“That will be deeply unpopular with hundreds of our residents,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One. “Our philosophy is that people should always be free to act providing it doesn’t adversely affect the lives of other people.”

He added: “We will look through those regulations very carefully, trawl through them with a fine tooth comb and see if there are ways of, what shall I say, interpreting them in a way that will be of greater benefit to our residents.

“I would be very surprised if our concerns were not shared by a very large number, if not the majority, of councils.”

Under the proposals, which are under consultation, full planning permission – required for extensions of more than a few metres from the rear wall of any home – will only now be needed for those beyond six or eight metres, depending on whether it is terraced or detached.

Mr Boles denied he was worried that local authorities would block the policy but admitted that not all would find it “appropriate” for them. “No, I’m not worried at all,” he told the programme. “I think there will be a number who feel it is not appropriate for them.”