Town hall seeks powers to prevent 'unsightly' loft extensions

Barking Town Hall

Council chiefs are to seek powers to prevent "poor quality" rooftop extensions. - Credit: Ken Mears

The town hall is to seek powers to stop rooftop extensions which result in "poor quality" developments.

The powers will also allow Barking and Dagenham Council to insist developers pay towards social infrastructure, such as schools or affordable housing.

The move is in response to government legislation introduced last year which would otherwise leave the local authority almost powerless to prevent poor quality developments.

Cllr Cameron Geddes

Cllr Cameron Geddes said: "Thames Road is a great example of intelligent regeneration." - Credit: Andreas Grieger

Cllr Cameron Geddes, cabinet member for regeneration and social housing, said: “These new powers will enable the council to prevent property speculators building poor quality, badly designed loft extensions and putting an unacceptable strain on community facilities."

The power is known as an Article 4 direction under the General Permitted Development Order.

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“By adopting an Article 4 direction we will have the power to insist developers make a contribution towards community infrastructure such as new schools or health facilities, and also that development delivers affordable housing," Cllr Geddes said.

The powers will remove what are known as "permitted development rights" in residential areas when applicants seek to add extra storeys to buildings. 

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It means applicants in these places will have to use the standard planning application route, allowing planning staff and other stakeholders, including residents, to consider the quality of any proposal in terms of design, infrastructure provision and affordable housing.

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter described the power as "an important constraint on unlimited, upwards development".

She pointed to the rooftop extension at a shopping parade near where she lives.

Cllr Dominic Twomey said the council is not opposed to regeneration and development, but he accused the government of eroding the council's powers as a planning authority.

"We will use [Article 4 direction] as and when we need to," he said.

Leader of the council, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said the town hall isn't shy of developments, but intensifying new builds should be focused around transports hubs.

Cabinet chiefs agreed to seek the powers at an online town hall meeting on Tuesday, January 19.

The council now has to consult the community and post formal notices before the rules can come into force within a year.

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