Yesterday I praised the Liberal Democrat conference’s vote opposing the coalition’s recent announcement that it intends to relax planning restrictions to allow back garden extensions and conservatories without planning permission.
The dismantling of protections against unsightly or disruptive ‘home improvements’ is based on the Conservative’s wildly misguided belief that the planning system is a barrier for economic growth. In fact, planning assists economic growth by ensuring appropriate development occurs in appropriate areas, thus creating environments which are conducive to business, innovation, and other drivers of the economy.
That’s why I was pleased to read in today’s The Independent that even there is strong resistance to this proposal even within the coalition’s two parties. The motion at the Lib Dem conference condemning the moves was backed by almost all delegates, and the Indie quotes the barrage of local councillors who lined up to denounce the measure. This vocal protest by the junior coalition partner came ‘amid growing opposition to the scheme among Conservative councils and MPs who warn that it will provoke bitter disputes between neighbours and lead to ugly developments.’ This is a reference to the decision last week by Tory councils, most notably Richmond and Sutton, to signal their opposition to the building free-for-all.
All of which begs the question: just who exactly wants to conserve the conservatory policy?