POSTED 01 November 2018 Guides and Top Tips

The Simple Guide to Planning Permissions & Regulations

Planning permission and building regulations don’t have to be stressful when you want to enhance and expand your property.

Some people avoid adding beautiful extensions and upgrades to their home because they’re worried about the stress of applying for planning permission - but it needn’t be this way. 

Here, we’ve taken a look at some of the most common issues around planning permission and types of work on a property, to help you discover if you need to apply or not. 

planning permissions 

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is required when you intend to erect a new building or make extensive changes to an existing property. You’ll need to apply for permission to do this from your local council, if this is the case. 

Planning permission or building regulations?

Many people confuse planning permission with building regulations - which are usually the required when dealing with extensions or work on properties.

Planning permission is essentially only needed for those who want to build whole new structures that are not part of their original home or add to their existing property extensively.

So, you may require planning permission to create an outbuilding in your garden if it goes over certain height restrictions or encroaches on another piece of land.  

What are building regulations?

Building regulations are set to ensure work is carried out to the set standards for the construction and design of buildings in the UK. These standards are there to ensure the safety of those in or around the building once it is finished and also ensures they provide the facilities that people need.

While work is being carried out, inspectors will visit periodically to check the building work at each stage of construction.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights allow you to build and extend your home without requiring permission. This means you can add to your property, as long as it is within the allocated space it resides on and doesn’t exceed height restrictions. However, it’s worth getting a surveyor to confirm how much permitted development you have to play with. 

Things to ask before applying for planning permission

  1. Is your property a listed building? Listed buildings require special approval and expert traders, depending on the work. Performing unauthorised work on a listed building could be considered a criminal offence.
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  3. Are there any restrictions on your property already? It’s worth checking whether previous occupants have applied for planning permission before and if this was accepted or not. If it was rejected, it’s unlikely yours will go through so it may not be worth the time and money to apply again.  
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  5. Are there any trees that need removing as a result of your planned work? Ensure any trees you plan to cut down or reduce are not protected before you apply for planning permission. Removing a protected tree or performing work without permission could see you prosecuted.

Do I need planning permission for…

Conservatories 

No, subject to certain rules and regulations. Read these here

Repairing, minor improvements or painting external walls

No, unless your building is listed or you live in a conservation area.

Fences, garden walls and exterior gates

No, if it is simply improving or repairing an existing fence. However, if it is over 1 metre high and next to a highway or the boundary is part of a listed building you may require permission. The full rules and regulations are available here

Garage conversions

No, if you are not increasing the size of the building. However, if you are converting your garage into another house, then yes, planning permission will be required.  

External walls

No, unless your property is listed, you do not need permission to carry out repairs, improvements or maintenance to your property.

Roof

No, if you are simply re-roofing your house or installing a skylight there’s no need for planning permission. However, if you are increasing the height of the roof, permission may be required. 

Solar panels

No, there is no need to apply for planning permission but there are certain rules and regulations you need to abide by. Full details of these can be found on the Planning Portal site.

Wind Turbines

Yes, you may need to apply for permission from your local authority to install a domestic wind turbine on your grounds. It’s best to check before you begin work.  

Loft conversion

No, in most cases you won’t require planning permission. However, there are certain building regulations you’ll need to abide by.

Self-build homes

Yes, planning permission will be required if you are building your own home.

Swimming pools

It’s worth checking if the construction you’re considering requires planning permission from your local authority. You will also need to abide by building regulations while carrying out this work. 

Warehouses and industrial buildings

No, planning permission is not required as these buildings are considered to be permitted development - however, certain conditions of course apply.

How does the planning permission approval process work?

Before permission is granted, a number of steps are made before a decision can be made. You should receive a decision within eight weeks and can appeal if it takes longer than this. For now, here are the steps an application goes through and what you need to do along the way:

  • Firstly, you must contact the planning department for your local planning authority - You can find these here
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  • Apply online via the Planning Portal website or fill out a paper form to send to your local planning authority.
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  • Submit the application with the correct fee and any supporting documents that may be required.
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  • Your local planning authority then reviews the application and requests any other documentation or information they need.
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  • You receive confirmation that your application is valid and being processed.
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  • The local planning authority then publicises your application and discusses it to make a decision.
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  • It is then considered by the planning committee or a planning officer - depending on the size and complexity of the application.
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  • You will then be granted permission, refused or granted permission with conditions.

If permission is granted you should start work and complete it within the time limit set, as well as adhering to any conditions.

If you’ve been refused, you may be able to amend your application and apply again.

If you have not had a result within eight weeks you can appeal. You must appeal up to six months after the decision was due. Your local authority then have 19 weeks to make a decision on your appeal. 

How long does approved planning permission last?

A planning permission grant lasts three years, from the date it was granted on the property. If you haven’t started work or it isn’t finished within this time, then you may need to reapply for it. 

What happens if I carry out work without planning permission?

If the work you’ve actioned required planning permission, this could be considered a criminal offence depending on the type of work and property - for example, if it is a listed building.

This is called a planning breach and the council can enforce that you remove the building or extension or ask that you work to return things back to how they were before. 

In some cases, the council may allow you to retrospectively apply for planning permission if you were not aware you needed it.

Now that you know the basics of planning permission and building regulations, it’s time to tackle that extension or conservatory you’ve been perhaps planning. If you’re ever unsure if you need permission, speak to your local authority first to ensure you’re covered before work begins.

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