Extension ban review for council

A SUFFOLK council which banned the owners of some one and two bedroom homes from extending their properties is being forced to review the controversial ruling.

A SUFFOLK council which banned the owners of some one and two bedroom homes from extending their properties is being forced to review the controversial ruling.

Babergh District Council's rethink follows a decision by Government inspectors to support Richard and Laura Reading who challenged the authority after they were refused permission to build a conservatory at their home.

Six months ago the authority adopted the policy of preventing owners of properties with a floor area of 75 square metres or less, from building extensions to their homes, except in exceptional circumstances.

The authority became the first in Suffolk to implement the ban, claiming it would ensure a reasonable supply of affordable and starter homes to young families and people on low to moderate incomes.


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But building firm Sky Windows, which claimed it lost work and cut jobs because of the ruling, joined forces with the Readings to fight the policy after planning consent to build a conservatory at the couple's home in Talbot Road, Sudbury was refused.

The building firm took up the fight on behalf of the couple when several of its customers cancelled planned extension work after learning of the council ban.

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The planning inspectorate has now backed the couple's appeal and has granted permission for them to go ahead with the conservatory in a case, which is believed to be the first of its kind.

Mr Reading said: "We are delighted the planning inspectorate has ruled in our favour, it just shows how ridiculous the policy is and what a waste of time this has all been.

"Some people cannot afford to move up the property ladder, but that doesn't mean they should be denied the chance of improving their home.

In its report the inspectorate said: "The proposed extension would represent a very modest increase and allow for a dining table and chairs to be kept available for use at all times, which is not realistically practicable within the constraints of the current floor area.

"The proposal would not conflict with the council's concerns that large extensions to small dwellings can erode the supply of small dwellings, nor the objective of their emerging policies, which have yet to be tested at Inquiry. The appeal should be allowed."

Tim Day, owner of Sky Windows, based in Acton near Sudbury, said: "The planning inspectorate's ruling has surely set a precedent that Babergh District Council cannot get around in the future. If one appeal is upheld then surely they all must be. I now encourage anyone who has been denied permission to build a small extension or conservatory to appeal against the decision because this ruling proves the policy hasn't got much strength.

"Everybody needs to know they still have the right to extend their home.

Babergh's head of planning Richard Watson said: "We look at every appeal decision whether we win or lose to see what lessons can be learned and how we can implement policy in the future and that is what we will do in this case.

"We are disappointed by the planning inspectorate's ruling and we are now reviewing the way we implement this policy in the future."

Babergh cannot completely withdraw the policy because it has been included in the second draft of its Local Plan, which will undergo a public inquiry next September, but it can review the way it is implemented.

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