There is a need to relax planning regulations very significantly for private citizens, especially in the area of house extensions and modifications, car ports, installation of solar panels, position and design of windows, etc. Planning applications are often opposed by jealous or awkward neighbours, and Councillors on Town and District Planning Committees often ignore the advice of the council’s own professional planning officers (recommending approval) and reject applications, to curry favour with antagonistic local people whose votes they want to obtain. Frequently, council officers are also intimidated by aggressive citizens with a typewriter or word processor, who sometimes stir up opposition to perfectly acceptable proposals.
Some councils are excessively interventionist and allow their decisions to be affected by political considerations. Thus, the extremely left-wing members of Stevenage Borough Council are prone to object to people wishing to improve their homes and depart from the standard size and pattern of the “New Town” housing that dominated the town until the early 1990s. The appeals procedure offers some redress. In the early 1990s, the decisions of the planning committee of Stevenage Borough Council were overturned on appeal in 52% of cases. This demonstrates that in a majority of cases their decisions were demonstrably, legally wrong. Right-wing councils are sometimes equally interventionist.
Why does this idea matter?
People should have a right to extend their home within their property boundary in accordance with building regulations and a few simple rules concerning respect for the environment.
In spite of the help offered by the appeals processes, this causes applicants considerable extra expense and results in months of stress and delay to applicants and their families, as well as costs to the government in processing the appeals.