BPF and RICS welcome new regulations that will remove 80,000 applications a year from the planning system

Industry bodies have welcomed government moves to cut red tape in the UK planning system that will remove 80,000 household planning applications from the process each year.

The new planning regulations, laid in parliament yesterday, mean that from October the majority of homeowners will no longer need to get planning permission for construction work to extend their existing homes.

The changes announced yesterday by Caroline Flint will allow people to build both up and out for the first time without needing to pay to up to £1,000 to be granted specific planning permission as at present.

As a result, the government estimates that one- quarter of all householder applications - 80,000 - will be removed from the planning system each year, potentially saving up to £50m.

Jonathan Seager, senior policy officer at the British Property Federation, said: “The planning system is suffering from a lack of resources; therefore we should be focusing what resources there are on applications which affect the most citizens and have the ability to significantly improve an area.

“We see this announcement as, hopefully, the start of some commonsense changes the government can easily make to improve the planning system.”

The RICS echoed the welcome, but warned that more changes would be needed to create an adequate system.

We see this announcement as, hopefully, the start of some commonsense changes the government can easily make to improve the planning system

Jonathan Seager, British Property Federation

A spokesperson said: “RICS welcomes the government's attempts to cut red tape and free up a heavily congested planning process. However, concerns remain that planning departments across the country are still under-resourced.

“To reduce the application input into the system by 80,000 will not significantly compensate local authorities for a severe lack of funding.”

The new regulations also contain measures to combat the effects of climate change by ruling that new driveways or parking areas over 5m2 will not require planning permission if they are constructed using surfaces that allow the water to soak through the ground. This is designed to reduce the flood risk associated with surface water run-off.

Two-thirds of the homes affected by the floods last year (about 55,000) were due to surface water run-off causing £3bn of damage.

In addition, the new rules provide that all 17 English world heritage sites will be upgraded to the same protection levels as conservation areas, national parks and areas of outstanding beauty.

Specific planning permission will consequently be needed for any sort of development on or near these sites, which include the Tower of London, Hadrian's Wall, Westminster Palace, Maritime Greenwich and Durham Castle.

At present only around half of the UK's world heritage sites are protected by conservation status against potentially damaging development in this way.