Relaxation Of Planning Rules Unlikely To Affect Islands

The government announced plans to relax planning rules yesterday in order to stimulate the building industry, but it’s unlikely that the proposals will apply in Scilly.

Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, says his department intends to temporarily relax agreements on the proportion of social housing that has to be built within developments, as well as removing restrictions on the size of extensions to domestic and commercial properties.

But local planning consultant, Bill Wilson, said it’s unlikely that this will have much, if any, impact on Scilly.

He said we don’t have any large developments here that would fall within the changes. And he said, going on past experience, it’s also unlikely that planning rules will be relaxed within a conservation area.

This was confirmed by a government spokesperson, Oliver Whitney-Coates, who told us yesterday’s proposed changes will not apply in areas of outstanding natural beauty.

One of the aims of the changes is to reduce red tape to allow builders to start projects more quickly, but Bill said the planning department in Scilly tended to turn applications around very quickly and within a clear local plan anyway.

Bill felt the government was trying to deflect the blame for sluggish growth in the building industry onto planners, and was using them as ‘whipping boys,’ when the real problem was a lack of money and confidence in the economy for people to build or buy properties.