Planning Permission

5 min read
You need to submit planning applications to your local planning authority to get approval, or planning permission, for many common domestic building projects, including extensions and loft conversions for example. As owner of a property or land, you are responsible for all building work you carry out complying with planning rules and building regulations.

You must ensure compliance regardless of whether you actually need to apply for planning permission and/or get building regulations approval or not for the particular work you want to carry out. Failure to do so may make you liable for remedial action which might stretch as far as demolition or restoration. In recent times, developers who bulldozed a pub, The Carlton Tavern in Maida Vale, West London were ordered to restore it brick by brick.

Who grants planning permission?

Most new buildings or major changes to existing buildings or to the local environment need consent - known as planning permission. Your local planning authority, normally the planning department of your local council, is responsible for deciding whether a development - anything from an extension on a house to a new shopping centre - should go ahead.

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What are "permitted development rights"?

You can make certain types of minor changes to your home without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called "permitted development rights". A full – and exhaustive – list of these can be found in Schedule 2 of The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, but for convenience, you can find useful guides on the Government's Planning Portal website.

It is worth bearing in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings.

In some areas of the country, known generally as 'designated areas', permitted development rights are more restricted. If you live in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads, you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas. There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building.

A very good case in point for all this is chimney breast removal (click to find out more). In most cases you won't require planning permission to remove your chimney breast but if your building is listed or in a designated area, this might not be the case and you should then definitely check the Government's Planning Portal (see above).

You definitely need to abide by Building Control regulations (click to find out more) regarding your chimney breast removal work however.

Broadly, you should always contact your local planning authority and discuss your proposal before any work begins. They will be able to inform you of any reason why the development may not be permitted and if you need to apply for planning permission for all or part of the work.

Permitted Development Rights Withdrawn

You should also note that the local planning authority may have removed some of your permitted development rights by issuing an Article 4 direction. This will mean that you have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one.

Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They are most common in conservation areas. You will probably know if your property is affected by such a direction, but you can check with the local planning authority if you are not sure.

NOTE: Houses created through permitted development rights to change use from shops, financial and professional services premises or agricultural buildings cannot use householder permitted development rights to improve, alter or extend homes: planning permission is required. You are advised to contact your local planning authority.


How do you apply for planning permission?

Before you make your application, you should make sure that you:

1 Research the local area

– most councils are more than happy to have pre-application meetings to discuss your proposals. On occasion there may be a charge for this service (it varies from council to council). It is always worth looking at neighbouring properties to understand what has previously been approved.

You can also obtain essential local information about relevant matters like planning applications lodged in the local area by booking a local authority search or, for more detailed information, a Planning Report (Plan Search Plus).

2 Acquire detailed drawings

Plan drawings show the relevant area you plan to develop looks at present and also how it will look when you have completed the project. You would normally get these drawings from RICS surveyors, structural engineers or architects.

You then submit your application online via the Government's Planning Portal.

You can expect to wait around 8 weeks to be notified if your plan has been approved or rejected. If you take the correct advice and plan well, you should find your project approved. In the event that it is rejected, there is an appeals procedure and details about this can also be accessed on the Planning Portal.

You must also, as stated, comply with building regulations – click to find out more.

What do planning permission drawings look like?

Click to see samples of planning permission drawings for:

  1. Before work has started and what is planned; and
  2. After the work has finished

Need measured drawings, planning reports, advice on planning permission etc.? Call 0333 344 3234.

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