The intention is to free the system of small, non-controversial applications, 90 per cent of which are agreed anyway, to allow councils to focus on difficult decisions and strategic issues.
Under the old system, home-owners could convert their loft or extend the rear of their home to a certain size (permitted development) without planning approval – but not both. Under the new system any extension is allowed, whether upwards and/or outwards, based on simple measurements. For example, a single-storey extension can be built up to three metres deep without permission. Domestic solar panels and wind turbines will also not need permission.
For larger schemes, where permission is still needed, the appeals procedure for rejected household applications will change. Instead of going to the independent Planning Inspectorate in Bristol, the Government wants them dealt with by Local Member Review Bodies (LMRB). The new arrangements are expected to come in during 2009. The cost for an appeal has yet to be set.