Richmond environmentalists oppose relaxed house extension permission plans


Outraged environmentalists are unhappy with the government’s plans which would relax planning permission on house extensions.


By Alex Dawkins, Andrew Jameson, Lucie Potter & Kathryn Snowdon

Outraged Richmond environmentalists are opposing government plans to relax planning permission on house extensions.

The government is pressing ahead with the changes that would see the length of an extension not requiring planning permission to be doubled from four to eight yards.

Richmond Environmental Network warned this could result in an increase in building work, jeopardising the area’s wildlife.

Leader Joe Pecorelli said: “The government wanting to relax planning permission is very concerning because it reduces the largest space available to London wildlife.

“In urban cities the biggest area for wildlife to live is in people’s private gardens.”

Richmond Council, led by Lord True, are concerned the plans will lead to a flurry of conservatories being built.

Cllr Geoffrey Samuel, Deputy Leader, said: “We will continue to press the government with utmost vigour against these proposals, which in our view go against their widely admired commitment to localism.”

Planning Minister Nick Boles responded to the council’s criticism by saying the government wanted to make it easier for thousands of families to expand homes.

He also hopes the plans will generate business for construction companies in local areas.

Brian Rudd, Conservatory and Orangery Consultant for Richmond’s P&P Glass, said: “It is going to make our life easier and it is definitely attractive because it should encourage business.”

Mr Rudd said the company are regularly approached by people who have had bad experiences with the council for advice on how to build a conservatory without planning permission.

London Wildlife Trust expressed concern about the proposed relaxation of planning laws.

There are approximately 3.8million gardens in London and the Trust estimate an area the size of two and a half Hyde Parks are being lost annually, largely driven by garden design trends.

A Trust spokesman said: “It’s never been more important that Londoners understand the value of our capital’s gardens.”

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors estimate a conservatory can raise your house’s value by 4-5%.

And the council’s opposition has received a hostile reception from Cole Park Residents’ Association.

Chairman John Parsons said: “A lot of our residents would say the government’s proposals are a step in the right direction as the current restrictions on planning can be unbelievably fastidious.”

He added: “We are against big government, so any restriction to the council’s power is welcome.”

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