Revolt over Government proposals to allow homeowners to build big extensions leads to compromise

Minister promises revised approach to relaxation of planning law after Tory backlash

Ministers are in retreat over plans to allow homeowners to build big extensions on their houses without planning permission in the face of a bitter backlash from both Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs.

As a series of angry backbenchers attacked him over the move, Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, sought to mollify his critics by promising to water down the scheme championed by David Cameron and George Osborne.

The Coalition still suffered a sizeable Commons rebellion on the issue, with 16 Conservatives and eight Liberal Democrats defying their whips to cut the Government’s majority to just 27.

The rebellion focuses on proposals to allow people to construct extensions and conservatories of up to 8m (26ft) on their homes – double the current limit – without requiring approval from their council. The rules would be relaxed for three years.

Mr Pickles argues the move will cut through unnecessary red tape and give a much-needed boost to the building industry. But critics, backed by several local authorities, have protested that it would amount to a planning free-for-all that led to disputes between neighbours.

The Communities Secretary promised to announce “a revised approach” on the “contentious question” when the plans are discussed next week in the House of Lords. He said: “I believe this is eminently bridgeable and I would like the opportunity to make that bridge.”

The revolt has been led by Zac Goldsmith, the Tory MP for Richmond Park, who has denounced the plans as “very bad, clumsy politics” which would prove deeply unpopular and put neighbours at odds.

He challenged Mr Pickles to give “greater clarity” about its plans to amend the Growth and Infrastructure Bill.

The minister replied: “You will have nothing to lose because you will be involved in the discussions. We will seek to try and arrive at a sensible compromise.”

Several senior Conservatives expressed their anger over his failure to disclose more detail. The former Welsh Secretary, Cheryl Gillan, the MP for Chesham, said: “I am afraid we are not going to believe what you say at that despatch box until we see it in black and white.”

The MP for High Peak, Andrew Bingham, said: “We’ve heard about monstrous carbuncles. I think we could end up with a lot of small warts on properties.”

Stewart Jackson, the MP for Peterborough, said: “We have seldom had a situation where so many Conservative councillors and councils and other bodies have united to say this is very bad legislation, it offends against the principle of localism.”

The Lords voted last month to give individual councils the power to reject the relaxation of planning rules.

The Conservative Lord True, who is the leader of Richmond Council and who put forward the amendment, attacked the Coalition’s home extensions proposal as “ludicrous”.

Following their narrow victory in the Commons, ministers will seek to overturn the Lords vote next week. It is at this point that they will unveil their compromise.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Data Scientist

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen