Permitted Development Rights – ANTAS Objections

ANTAS (the Association of North Thames Amenity Societies) is an association of local civic societies working to ensure high standards of planning and architecture in our towns and villages, and working to preserve and care for our countryside.  WPAG is member of ANTAS  along with twenty two other civic and community groups across Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

With the power of its membership behind it, ANTAS is a voice to be heard at the National level.

As part of the Consultation process, the ANTAS Chairman, (Mr Jon Green), has lodged objections to Mr Pickles, Secretary of State, about two aspects of the Government’s proposed planning reforms.

1) Permitted Development Rights

ANTAS challenges the thought that the proposed PDR’s will alleviate the country’s housing needs. The argument is that although small builders might regard it as good news that building works can proceed with more freedom from planning rules and regulations, i.e. at a faster tempo than before, there must be concerns that the very removal of conventional safeguards within local planning authorities’ procedures will allow potentially inappropriate private residential developments to creep in.

ANTAS give, as an example, the proposed relaxation of controls to permit (domestic) ground floor back extensions up to  6 and 8 metres without the need for local authority planning approval. Such easing of established local authority planning procedures could remove the opportunity for neighbours, and others, to register legitimate objections should they so wish on, for example, such important issues such as loss of amenity, or lessening of security,.

Similarly, ANTAS attack proposals to allow commercial premises to extend and build virtually up to their site boundaries without a planning check to consider the impact on neighbouring land users, or potential traffic and road safety implications where there is a presumption of increased site activity.

2) Major Infrastructure Developments

ANTAS attacks plans to remove into the hands of the Government’s Planning inspectorate, major infrastructural projects lodged with those local planning authorities who, compared to others, are deemed to be statistically low in terms of their ‘track record’ of speed of response and quality of action, i.e. their rate of ‘Refusals’. The criteria for taking such draconian steps is at this stage open to doubt and uncertainty, but of critical importance.

ANTAS argues that the obvious risk of such discipline, clearly intended, is to put pressure on planning departments to speed up their approval rate, potentially at the expense of care and attention to planning priorities.

Go to the ANTAS website to learn more about their work and objectives.

To learn more about the detail of the Government’s proposals, click Permitted Development Rights, or go to the Government Planning Portal on the Links page for information on a wide range of planning related subjects.

Singlers Marsh – New Year Project

A river enhancement project is planned to take place during January and February 2013 at the north end of Singlers Marsh. David Cheek, of the Friends of the Mimram volunteer group will be producing an article for this website which will detail the work being planned.

Our local volunteer group, the Friends of Singlers Marsh, manage projects which cover the southern ‘recreational’ end of Singlers Marsh, and the northern ‘Local Nature Reserve’ too. (The Friends of Singlers Marsh are represented on the WPAG Committee).

As you would expect, the Friends of Singlers Marsh work closely with the Friends of the Mimram, whose flow of interest naturally follows the full length of the River.

Singlers Marsh offers a unique amenity value to the community of Welwyn, not least as the site of the Annual Welwyn Festival Families’ Fun Day. Over the past year the WPAG has worked closely in support of the Friends of Singlers Marsh to encourage both the WHBC, and the Welwyn Parish Council (WPC), to respond to their responsibility for properly maintaining this priceless site.

(The WHBC are the Land Owners of Singlers Marsh, and the WPC pass on the costs of maintenance to us, the ratepayers, within their Annual Precept).