Are the Government’s proposed changes to planning laws in a pickle?

The Government almost destroyed the solar panel industry, after the changes it made to the Feed-in-Tariff, slashing and slashing it, resulting in thousands in the solar photovoltaic industry being made unemployed and home owners being put off from installing solar panels as the big cash incentive was reduced to a shadow of what it once was.

Could something similar be about to happen to the home improvement industry? Could the Government be about to create the opposite effect to what they claim their policies intend?

With the Government announcing they want to introduce a two year suspension of planning laws to help get the economy moving and to help the building and home improvement industry, will not many home owners who were about to extend, now hold on as they might be able to build bigger extensions that currently allowed under existing planning laws?

There is a real danger than the Governments handling of this issue could end in an utter mess, confusing and miss-informing property owners and sending mixed messages to builders, window, door and conservatory installers. The Government has not made it clear that Building Regulations Applications will need to be made in the usual manner for all home extensions that cannot meet all the criteria that could exempt them (i.e. like most conservatories under 30 square metres).

For example of the sort of mess brewing, read Rowena Mason, Political Correspondent for the Telegraph’s article entitled “Eric Pickles conservatory climb-down may still pose risk to green spaces” that was published on the Telegraph website on 22nd April 2013. As the article states “The proposals unveiled last year caused outrage among some Tory backbenchers, forcing Mr Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, to back down and concede that people must still get agreement from their immediate neighbours.”

A day later on 23rd April 2013, on the 24dash.com website Max Salbury wrote an article entitled “MP demands Pickles clarifies government’s proposed planning amendments” which raises additional concerns about how ill conceived and how badly thought through the proposed changes are. The article explains that “An MP has written to Eric Pickles demanding that he clarifies a number of points regarding the government’s revised planning proposals. Labour’s Clive Betts, chair of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee, has responded following the government’s tabling of amendments to the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.”

It seems the Coalition in desperation to get the economy going are not listening to many of their own backbenchers, nor  local Government’s all of whom are telling them the proposals are a recipe for disaster as local Councils don’t have the procedures, staff or infrastructure to deal with all the resultant disputes between neighbours. Meanwhile home-owners wanting to extend now may not extend now because of the chaos, thereby slowing up the UK economy.

Time will time how big a pickle Mr Pickles has dropped all UK home owners in, plus all home improvement trades will continue to suffer until the Government resolves this avoidable political and economic mess they have brought upon themselves.

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