Suffolk: Preservation chief questions Government’s easing of planning laws to boost economy

A CONSERVATION chief has poured scorn on a raft of Government measures to relax planning laws and stimulate the economy.

Whitehall has announced it will remove the need for developers to include affordable housing in new schemes - if they are making the project commercially unviable - and consult on allowing people, for a three-year period, to build larger extensions on their homes.

But Simon Cairns, director of Suffolk Preservation Society, said the announcement amounted to “lots of spin and rhetoric that would not stimulate the econonmy”.

However the move has been welcomed by businesses groups who say liberalising planning laws are a step in the right direction.

Mr Cairns added: “I fail to see how this will stimulate the economy - most hardworking families simply don’t have the money to extend their homes.

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“You could have put up your dream home and someone puts up a big extension next door - there could be real problems that flow from this initiaitve.

“But I don’t think there’s that much pent up demand - people are more concerned about the economy.”

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He added relaxing the requirement on affordable housing in new schemes would hit a “huge generation of young people” who cannot get on the property ladder.

“Some developers are happy to have affordable housing because it means they can actually sell the properties,” he said. “It’s not about the lack of planning permission - they’re not building because they can’t sell them at a profit. Developers are landbanking them until they can make a profit.

“It’s all well and good to relax these impediments to development but is it an impediment or is it a myth? If you look at the profits of housing developers are making they’re doing very well at the moment.”

Denise Rossiter, chief executive of the Essex Chambers of Commerce, said: “The government’s proposals to liberalise planning restrictions and back house building are a step in the right direction. However, businesses would like to see more radical action, with selective use of greenbelt land around our cities, and even more applications taken out of the planning system altogether.”

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