According to a YouGov poll commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) published today, 54% of respondents believe that the government's plan to remove the need for planning permission for house and building extensions would mean the quality of the design of their neighbourhood would get worse. Only a handful (7%) think that it will get better.
The lack of public support for the measures mirrors the RIBA's concerns that the proposals go against the principles and commitment to quality design, as set out in the recently introduced and lauded National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).
In light of the significant widespread public and professional concern over the flawed proposals the RIBA is today calling on the government to:
Ensure adequate safeguards are in place to prevent poorly-designed new extensions as part of its consultation on this proposal.
Consider the private cost to future owners of commercial space and home owners who may need to rectify mistakes of poorly designed extensions built without appropriate checks and balances.
RIBA Past President and Chair of the RIBA Planning Group, Ruth Reed, said:
'The government's new policy is rushed and if implemented could pave the way for poor design decisions which could damage our built environment for years to come. We agree that there is a need to reduce the red tape in our current planning system but as the British public have clearly expressed, this policy change must be more carefully considered to ensure we make our neighbourhoods better not worse.'
In addition to concerns over design quality, and despite the Localism Act heralding a new era of community engagement, the poll also revealed that the government proposed planning reforms have left half of public respondents worried about losing their influence over new extensions in their local area, with 20% very worried. Only 10% are not worried at all.
Speaking about the fact that 50% of the poll's respondents were worried about losing their voice in the planning system, Ruth Reed said:
'People must be given the right to be consulted on the impact of significant development in their communities in a fair and efficient way. These reforms will create anxiety amongst communities who have been promised more local influence by this government, not less.'