UK Government Cut Planning Restrictions for Micro-Generation

The Government is to cut planning restrictions on micro-renewable technology as a new report proposes streamlining the planning system for household applications.

Ministers today announced the Government will reduce planning restrictions for small scale micro-generation - including solar panels and small wind-turbines - as part of measures to simplify the planning system around minor developments.

The new report published today by the Government’s Householder Development Consents Review Steering Group says certain householder applications and those for small scale micro-renewable technology - such as solar water heating and small wind turbines - should be allowed to go ahead without the need for a planning application. The Government will publish detailed proposals on micro-generation which take account of size and the impact on neighbours in the autumn.

The review also proposes streamlining the planning system for household extensions that require planning permission but where neighbours do not object. The number of household applications has more than doubled over the last ten years yet the vast majority of these are approved with no objection at all. These planning applications create unnecessary costs and delays for householders as well as taking up time and resources for local planning authorities.

The review also says that the need for applications for extensions should be judged on their impact rather than volume or size. Current rules say that if you have already extended your home you may need planning permission for a simple dormer window or conservatory. These rules can also permit developments that overshadow or intrude on privacy simply because they meet arbitrary volume limits.

Following the report the Government is now examining ways to streamline and simplify the system. By focussing on impact, the Government is looking to remove unnecessary applications whilst increasing protections for neighbours. This means the planning system can focus more resources on major developments.

Yvette Cooper said:

“It is absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house but should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale micro-generation which is no more obtrusive and can have a real impact on tackling climate change. We want far more micro-generation to be treated as permitted development and we also should be able to simplify the system for small developments such as extensions.”

The Government plans to consult on detailed proposals in the autumn. Any changes to the system will come into effect in 2007.

The Householder Development Consents Review (HDCR) Steering Group Report includes eleven recommendations for making planning controls more proportionate, improving the customer experience and providing greater choice for householders through alternative service providers. Further reforms will be announced in due course.

The Government is also welcoming Kate Barker’s interim report on Land Use Planning today which makes clear that further changes are needed to increase the global competitiveness of the UK economy.

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