The Growth and Infrastructure Act (Act) contains a number of provisions relating to planning, including paving the way for the GPDO Amendment Regulations, which will come into force on 30 May 2013.

We have highlighted a number of these extended permitted development rights on our blog but one which has caught a lot of headlines relates to householder extensions. The Regulations will increase permitted development rights that apply to housing extensions for a period of three years. The current existing permitted development extension limit for a detached house (four metres) will increase to eight metres and for a semi detached house the limit will increase from three metres to six metres.

Under the revised scheme, home owners wishing to build extensions that exceed the previous limits will need to notify their council. The council will then inform neighbours who have 21 days to object. If the neighbours did not object the development will be able to proceed. If objections are made, the authority will have to consider the proposals’ “impact on neighbours' amenity". It will be the council who will decide if the development goes ahead if a neighbour objects. In effect the clause gives local authorities a role where neighbours ask them to make a judgment.

Further changes the Act has made, all designed to boost the economy, include:

  1. Transferring decision making powers on certain large scale business and commercial development from the local authority to the Planning Inspectorate.
  2. Allowing a developer to bypass the locally elected planning authority and to apply for consent directly to the Inspectorate, where a council has “consistently failed to meet statutory requirements to consider applications on time”.
  3. Providing a right to appeal directly to the Inspectorate to modify planning obligations that the developer considers make the scheme unviable. This allows developers to make formal requests to modify or discharge affordable housing obligations in section 106 agreement in order to make developments viable.
  4. Providing that information requests made by planning authorities in relation to planning applications must be reasonable, in relation to the nature and scale of proposed developments, in order to reduce paperwork required with such applications.