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New planning rules could cost councils hundreds of thousands of pounds –

Reforms to planning rules which make it easier for small-scale residential extensions could cost councils hundreds of thousands of pounds. London Assembly Member Steve O’Connell welcomes the new arrangements, which cuts red tape and helps families improve their homes, but warns tax payers should not foot the bill.

London Assembly member Steve O’Connell said: “Councils should be able to charge a fee to the applicant to cover their costs, especially if neighbours object and further work is needed by planning departments, otherwise these costs will fall on the general council tax payer. For example, even if the initial application is free but they should at least be able to charge if an impact assessment and decision is required. Ultimately, we must protect the tax payer from any further expense.”

Steve’s other proposed amendments include measures to further protect local residents.

“It is vital that neighbours get the best chance to have their say in any planned extensions. It would be better to extend the notification period to 28 days or to make it 20 working days to cover times such as Christmas or bank holidays. We must also prevent ‘garden grabbing’ by ensuring development can only take place on a maximum 50% of the back garden.”