Cutting red tape to speed up planning

PUBLISHED: 04:17 27 July 2006 | UPDATED: 09:39 24 May 2010

HOMEOWNERS in North Somerset are to be given greater freedom to build extensions and make improvements to their properties. Every year hundreds of people pay thousands of pounds to North Somerset Council in planning applications so they can have a new por

HOMEOWNERS in North Somerset are to be given greater freedom to build extensions and make improvements to their properties.Every year hundreds of people pay thousands of pounds to North Somerset Council in planning applications so they can have a new porch, garage or conservatory built.But under new relaxed rules set to be introduced next Spring by the Government, it will be a lot easier for homeowners to get planning permission for minor work.In the past week, around 20 planning applications for minor extensions costing hundreds of pounds were submitted to North Somerset. Around 100 were made in the past month.Next year, the fees are set to be slashed and these kinds of applications will be dealt with a lot quicker and some proposals may not need planning permission at all. But there are worries the relaxed rules could mean homes such as those in the Victorian hillside area of Weston could end up with improvements that upset neighbours because they do not fit in with surrounding streets.The Government hopes the new relaxed regime will cut down on the red tape which has irritated homeowners across the country.North Somerset Councillor John Crockford-Hawley, executive member for strategic planning and transport, said: "Generally if it helps to speed up the system for people wanting to do minor works then all to the good."Unfortunately it is often these minor extensions that have a detrimental affect on older buildings and sometimes the issues that effect neighbours are neglected.

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