It’s got to be good news surely?

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The Government’s decision to relax planning rules to kick start the economy has to be good news for business.

As well as loosening regulations on everything from single storey home extensions to major housing developments, prime minister David Cameron has signalled major changes for the industrial and retail sectors. Businesses will now be allowed to expand their premises significantly without planning permission.

Shops will be free to add another 1,076 sq ft of working space, and industrial units twice as much again.

Tim Davies of Colliers International greets the move enthusiastically: “The present planning system is cumbersome for companies seeking to grow their business in the UK. Anything which makes this easier will help get the economy moving again.

“David Cameron is trying to simplify planning regulations in an attempt to demonstrate the Government means business, getting behind organisations with the ambition to expand.

“We would welcome any moves which cut through what the Prime Minister has called the ‘paralysis’ which holds up many new developments and often results in lengthy planning inquiries.

“There has been a lack of speculative development in the last few years which has created pent up demand for commercial property. The ability for those companies who need to expand being able to do so without moving could go a long way towards satisfying at least part of that demand.

The government has also announced plans for new legislation to change the planning appeals system making it harder for residents to hold up developments.

For many it is about time to, it is ridiculous that a tiny minority can hold up and even stop a development which had already won approval jeopardising over 1,000 new jobs in a region as happened with the Amazon proposal in Widnes.

However if any developer or indeed business looking to expand thought it would now be a breeze think again.

There has been a plethora of condemnation with many councils coming out in opposition of the plans claiming they have not been thought through properly.

The voices calling for a rethink even before this rethink has been accepted are loud, popular and extremely active appearing on the national and local radio, whipping up support at local rallies, on-line and making it on to pages of the most popular newspapers. They are a force to be reckoned with and as many of the most vocal happen to hail from the conservative and Liberal democrat heartlands this move may just turn out to be a damp squib despite what the Department for Communities and Local Government says.

“The government has eased the planning restrictions and costly bureaucracy that prevents families and businesses from making improvements to their properties because it will help thousands of people move up the property ladder or expand their business without having to relocate.

“However, if there are genuine local concerns councils can withdraw permitted development rights locally using existing powers – known as article four directions – if the exercise of those planning freedoms resulted in unacceptable impacts on their community.”

Liza Helps

Contributing Editor, Property

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