A Practical Guide to Planning Permission

When doing any work on a property, from a large project to a minor modification, ensuring the work adheres to planning permission should be top of the priorities list. If not it could cause a major headache.

Planning permission can appear to be a bit of a minefield. Here is a practical guide to planning and the resources you need to ensure a stress-free and not overly costly process.

Do I need planning permission?

The first step is establishing whether you need planning permission. As highlighted on this blog before many small household projects do not require planning permission as they are deemed a ‘permitted development’. To check if your project falls into this category you can check the Government website, which includes an excellent walk-through of an interactive house to help you decide.

I do not require planning – can I start building?

Even if your project does not appear to need planning do not start work. For some properties and locations permitted development rights do not apply. For example, if your home is a listed building or you live in a national conservation area you may not have permitted development rights. In this case you will need to apply for planning permission. Contact your Local Planning Authority (LPA) to check that your property has permitted development rights before doing any work. If the LPA confirm you have permitted development rights you can begin work but your project must stick to certain criteria. You can find the criteria in the walk through guide. If your project exceeds the criteria, again you will need planning permission.

I need planning permission – how much will it cost?

The cost of planning permission depends on the size project and the reason you need planning. Different types of planning are required for different projects. For example, permission to build on a conservation area is different to listed building planning permission. There is also a key difference between outline and full planning permission. Outline permission establishes whether the scale and nature of a project is acceptable. Full details will have to be supplied before any work can start though. People often buy outline permission without any intention of doing the work as it adds value to their home as they can advertise to a potential buyer that permission is granted for some type of development. Full permission is where detailed plans are submitted and permission is given to that exact project and work can start immediately. The Fee Calculator will help decide which type of planning you require and get an idea of the cost. To give a vague idea planning for a standard house extension costs around £150.

I have permission – is that it?

When making developments there are two things to consider, planning permission and building regulations. Though often believed to be the same they are in fact separate processes.

Most building projects require building regulations but not always planning permission. For example, if your improvement is a garage conversion it does not require planning permission as it is a permitted development. However, it still needs building regulations. Building regulations set a standard and guidelines for any renovations. Most projects require building regulations but not all require planning. Many will need both.

If unsure of what you need contact the LPA. Work will have to be signed off by a building inspector to ensure it meets building regulations. You will need this to make the changes officially legal. Otherwise, if a project is found to not meet regulations you can be forced to change them or even take them down. A list of Construction Industry Council (CIC) Approved Inspectors can be found on the CIC website.

Some tradesmen can self -certify that work meets building regulations, if they can it will save you the cost of an inspector. Ask your installer exactly what part of the work they can self-certify and if any of the work will require an inspector. To legally be able to self-certify a tradesman must be registered to the Competent Persons Scheme. To find or check if a person is registered you can use the Competent Persons Register website.

Making an Application

If you want to make a planning application the best way is online using the Government’s planning portal. You can also appeal against a decision if your application has been turned down.

By Michael Hallam


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