'Fast tracked' planning legislation set to be implemented

'Fast tracked' planning legislation set to be implemented

Reporter:

James Preston

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'Fast tracked' planning legislation set to be implemented

A fast-tracked piece of Government legislation which brings about key changes to the planning process is set to be implemented from tomorrow.

The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, which was passed earlier in the month, introduces modifications which will see some policies on permitted development rights and change of use applications relaxed.

The changes include the permitted size limits for the depth of single-storey house extensions being doubled, while businesses will be able to change the use of a building for a temporary period of up to two years without planning permission.

The changes are part of a pilot scheme in place until May 2016.

Discussing the new rules at a Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead cabinet meeting on Thursday, Cllr MJ Saunders, cabinet member for planning and property, said the legislation had been introduced with 'a pace that takes your breath away' and added: "This is a very significant change which many residents will be caught unawares about."

The discussion led to a raft of hypothetical scenarios from councillors looking to know the extent of the changes, ranging from the impact on tree protection orders (TPOs) to what happens if developments are not completed during the three-year window.

Cabinet chairman Cllr David Burbage suggested a briefing note be prepared for councillors and Cllr Saunders said the borough had in important role to play in making sure the public understood the impact of the changes.

It was also stressed that measures are still in place for neighbours to object to proposals and the council will still have powers to rein in unacceptable developments.

The cabinet agreed to note the legislation and to take steps to promote the changes to residents.

The meeting was held at Maidenhead Town Hall.

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