Wednesday, 24 November 2010

More is less


Fellow planning professionals will no doubt be aware that the Welsh Assembly Government is consulting on proposed changes to householder permitted development rights in Wales. The consultation period runs until 15 Feb.

If you take at face value what the WAG says, they want to make a number of changes to allow “more improvements” and to clarify what permitted development householders can do. They claim that the proposed changes will:

• Allow householders freedom to make more improvements and alterations within their property without planning permission;
• Set conditions for some permitted development rights so developments are carried out in a way that minimises impact on others, and takes account of flood prevention measures; and
• Place more restrictions on permitted development within World Heritage Sites.

Stephen Ibbitson, who as you know from recent posts takes a close interest in PD issues, has pointed out to me that whilst the new draft Order 'tidies up' some of the mess in the English revision to Part 1 of the Second Schedule to the GPDO, the proposed new Welsh PD Order is most notable for how much MORE RESTRICTIVE it will be than the current order.

So the claim by the Welsh Assembly that the proposed changes will "allow householders freedom to make more improvements and alterations within their property without planning permission" represents either ignorance/stupidity or downright mendacity. The new Order would be even more restrictive that the English version and cannot but add to the number of applications for minor developments that householders will be obliged to make in Wales in the future.

Planning professionals in Wales should make strong representations to WAG about this. Maybe it would give us all a bit more work, but it cannot be in the interests of the wider public, nor will it assist administrative efficiency if planning departments are clogged up with a lot of householder applications for minor development. The whole idea of amending the GPDO was to avoid this. It takes a peculiar kind of bureaucratic genius to dream up a ‘simplification’ of the order which has precisely the opposite effect of what is purportedly intended.

© MARTIN H GOODALL

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