LETTERS: Planning changes will be costly

I WRITE regarding your feature last week in respect of the changes in the planning regulations (“Improving homes is now easier”, The Galloway Gazette, February 10). I would like to make the following points.

Although the press release from the planning department proclaims these changes as a substantial relaxation of the planning regulations for small extensions, it has failed to mention half of the story.

The changes have actually created more bureaucracy, form-filling and cost for all of these small projects because they have recently brought in an additional new type of planning application called an Application for Certificate of Lawfulness.

This very officious sounding document is nothing more than a letter confirming that a project does not require planning permission – and, of course, for this “certificate” the planning department charges a fee of £80.

This £80 (which is half of the normal fee for an extension requiring planning permission) is clearly nothing more than an extra fee for small alterations and extensions which are “permitted development” and which do not require planning permission.

It has obviously noticed that it has been normal practice for architects, agents and members of the public to write to the planning department to ask for written confirmation that their small extension or alteration does not require planning permission.

Councils will not now issue such a letter – which was provided free of charge – and now require applicants to apply for this Certificate of Lawfulness before they will respond.

Politicians and officials saw an opportunity to squeeze some additional income from the public – but would it not have been fairer just to say that they now had to charge for a letter?

As usual, when governments promise to take away regulations and make life simpler for businesses and the public, they only add more layers of bureaucracy and cost.

Jim Brown,

J R Brown Building Design,

66 Victoria Street, Newton Stewart.