Planning to reduce red tape? Yes, we really are

Posted on Categories Environment, Tags

This week people in Jersey will have the chance to see the designs of some of the most innovative buildings in Britain when the Jersey Architecture Biennale 2015 rolls into town. It’s a chance to see what’s positive and exciting about local design (and there’s plenty) and the contributions professional planners and architects make to Island life. Please come along, you’ll enjoy it.

What I hope many people will be talking about (even arguing about!), is our plans to change the law to let people do more to their home or business without applying for planning permission. Extending ‘permitted development’ rights to help small businesses and home owners, and thereby reducing red tape and regulation, while fostering economic growth, is one of the things I’ve wanted, and promised, to do since I came into office. So, soon after being appointed I asked the department to look at how to reduce the need for planning permission in a number of areas.

We identified the quick wins and asked people affected by the possible changes to give us their feedback. They didn’t hold back. Architects, builders, business owners, farmers, traders, and environmental and heritage groups all gave us their views which we’ve incorporated into the draft orders, published this week and available to comment on from now until November at

In brief, and if people agree, we’re proposing increases in what you are allowed to do in homes and businesses, changes to definitions of land use and fewer restrictions on advertisements. So you’ll no longer need planning permission for advertisements such as replacing signs that already have planning permission, signs on buildings up to five square metres, flags on car sales forecourts and garden centres, temporary community banners, free-standing signs and advertising on construction scaffolding and hoardings.

No longer will you need permission for porches, eco-ponds, skylights and dormers, there’ll be greater height limits for extensions, and very few restrictions on flues and chimneys.

For all types of buildings, you won’t need consent for minor engineering works, changes of any kind to windows and doors at ground floor level on non-listed buildings, blocking up or making smaller windows and doors above ground floor level, re-rendering, or replacing roof coverings which include a height increase of 15cm to allow for insulation.

For renewable energy, if agreed, you won’t need planning permission for solar panels on any part of the roof and up to 90 per cent coverage of the roof, which allows for more types of technology and greater opportunity for solar gain.

There will also be beneficial changes for the utility companies like the harbour and airport, and also changes to demolition to make the law clearer.

The wording for uses of land and buildings has been updated and there are new classes that reflect modern types of businesses. For example, the medical and welfare category will include alternative health therapies, and leisure will include personal fitness training, martial arts, and other sports. There will also be a new class for evening economy and drinking establishments which includes entertainment venues, bars, night clubs and public houses.

Finally, there are expanded ‘use’ classes to make it easier for businesses to move premises without having to apply for permission. Under the new orders, you won’t need a planning permit to use a shop as an alternative health therapy, or to use an office as storage. You also won’t need permission to turn a bar into a restaurant, or a café into a shop.

The consultation on these proposed changes comes at the same time as a major independent report on innovation in Jersey which looks at how the Island can help innovative businesses grow and develop here. I hope these changes and those that will follow in due course, as part of the programme of government reform, will provide the boost for enterprise that I know local businesses want and can help deliver a more flexible and responsive climate for enterprise.

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