Page last updated at 13:52 GMT, Thursday, 6 September 2012 14:52 UK

Pickles outlines plans to relax planning laws in England

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has outlined plans to ease the rules on building extensions as part of a range of new measures to boost the construction industry and provide more affordable homes.

Making a housing and planning statement to MPs on 6 September 2012, Mr Pickles said homeowners in England will be allowed to extend their properties without full planning permission for the limited period of a year.

Mr Pickles told MPs it would make it easier to build that long-wanted conservatory: "As a nation we have great pride in our homes...so we will be seeking to simplify and increase permitted development rights for households.

"Cutting back municipal red tape in this way should provide a particular boost to small traders and builders."

But Labour dismissed the proposals, saying that the "fundamental problem" was not the planning regime, but George Osborne's tactics for generating growth.

Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Benn told MPs there was already planning permission in the system for 400,000 homes to be constructed, but "the Chancellor's failed economic plan is preventing them from being built".

He added: "When are ministers going to stop casting around for somebody and something else to blame, finally admit it is the Chancellor's failed economic policy that has led to a collapse in house building, and change course?"

Under the government's proposals, house builders could ask to change requirements on them to provide affordable housing if it was "commercially unviable", and there will be a £10bn debt underwriting for new housing.

The plans were also attacked by Chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee, Clive Betts.

Mr Betts said the statement was a continuation of the government's "attacks on the planning system," adding that "the only difference now is the planning system the government is attacking is a planning system you created."

He also asked: "How can it possibly be localist to transfer planning decisions at first instance from elected local councils to the planning inspectorate?"

Mr Pickles replied saying there might be an element of "muscular localism" about the plans, adding that it was "only those local authorities who frankly have been dragging their feet and being wholly unrealistic, operating a kind of economic la la land, we will be dealing with."

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