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A Guide to Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval

 


The majority of home improvements will either need planning permission or building regulations approval or, quite often, both. Consent required under the building regulations is a quite separate matter from planning permission so we have provided a guide to both below. More details can be found on your own local council websites.

 


Planning Permission

 

Introduction

 

The purpose of the planning system is to protect amenity and the environment in the public interest. It is not designed to protect the interests of one person over another. Planning regulations have to cover many different situations and the provisions which affect the average householder are quite detailed. Policies can vary between different local councils.

 

Planning permission itself does not give anyone the right to do anything on someone else's land. If planning permission has been granted to your neighbour, for instance, you may still be able to take your own legal action to defend any private rights you or your property may have.


Do you need to apply for planning permission?

 

Some proposals do not require planning permission as they are allowed under 'permitted development' (they may however, still require building regulations approval). These are works that are deemed to be minor in nature.

 

 

Even when planning permission is not required, we would normally apply for a ''lawful development certificate'' from the council with details of the work you want to carry out. This is a useful document to have when you sell the property in the future.

 

Take Care! If you build something which needs planning permission without obtaining permission first, you may be forced to put things right later, which could prove troublesome and costly. You might even have to remove an unauthorised building.

 

We have included below a general guide to when planning permission is required when extending your home but, as policies can vary and are quite complex, more information is available on your own local council websites.

 


Extending your house

 

You need to apply for planning permission to extend or add to your house in various circumstances which are summarized below:

 

1. The addition would be nearer to any highway than the nearest part of the "original house'', unless there would be at least 20 metres between your house (as extended) and the highway. (There are special rules for porches). The term ''original house'' means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date).

 

2. More than half the area of land around the ''original house'' would be covered by additions or other buildings.

 

3. The extension is higher than the highest part of the roof of the ''original house''; or any part of the extension is more than 4 metres high (above ground level) and is within 2 metres of the boundary of your property. (Loft conversions and dormers have separate rules, explained below.)

 

4. For a terrace house (including an end of terrace house) or any house in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Broads - the volume of the ''original house'' would be increased by more than 10% or 50 cubic metres (whichever is the greater)

 

5. For any other kind of house outside those areas, the volume of the ''original house'' would be increased by more than 15% or 70 cubic metres (whichever is the greater).

 

6. In any case, the volume of the ''original house'' would be increased by more than 115 cubic metres.

Volume is calculated from the external dimensions of the entire structure of the extension and there are several criteria that relate to existing buildings, proximity to boundaries, etc that need to be considered - more information is available on your own local council websites. .


Roof extensions, loft conversions and dormer windows

 

You do not normally need to apply for planning permission to re-roof your house or to insert roof lights or skylights.

 

However, there are some special rules which govern extensions to the roof. You will normally need to apply for planning permission if you live in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or the Broads and you want to build an extension to the roof of your house or any kind of addition which would materially alter the shape of the roof.

 

Outside those areas, you need to apply for planning permission if any of the following is true:

 

1. The work would make some part of the house higher than the highest part of the existing roof.

 

2. The dormer or other addition you want to build would extend beyond the plane of any existing roof slope facing a highway.

 

3. A roof extension would add more than 40 cubic metres to the volume of a terraced house or more than 50 cubic metres to any other kind of house. Additional volume created by any extension - and that includes roof extensions - will count against the total volume limit for your house. So you will also need to apply for planning permission before building a roof extension if the volume of the original house is increased by the amounts stated in items 4, 5 and 6 above.


Buildings and other structures on the land around your house

 

Many kinds of buildings and structures can be built in your garden or on the land around your house without the need to apply for planning permission. These can include sheds, garages, greenhouses, accommodation for pets and domestic animals, summer houses, swimming pools, ponds, sauna cabins, and enclosures (including tennis courts).

 

However, there are limitations relating to these such as proximity to the boundary, use of the building, height of the building, etc. Again, for more details check with your own local council.


Applying for planning permission

 

The POL BUILD Group TEAM will act as your agent during the planning application process and we will prepare any plans and drawings that are required and will submit these with the appropriate forms on your behalf.

 

The council will place the application on the Planning Register at the council offices so that it can be inspected by any interested member of the public. They will also either notify your neighbours or put up a notice on or near the site. In certain cases, applications are also advertised in a local newspaper. The council may also consult other organisations, such as the highway authority or the parish council. The planning department may prepare a report for the planning committee, which is made up of elected councillors or the council may give a senior officer in the planning department the responsibility for deciding your application on its behalf.


Planning considerations

 

The councillors or council officers who decide your application must consider whether there are any good planning reasons for refusing planning permission or for granting permission subject to conditions. The council cannot reject a proposal simply because many people oppose it. It will look at whether your proposal is consistent with the development plan for the area. The kinds of planning issue it can also consider include potential traffic problems, the effect on amenity, and the impact the proposal may have on the appearance of the surrounding area. By contrast, moral issues, or the effect the development might have on nearby property prices, would be matters not relevant to planning. Only very rarely would planners be able to take account of an applicant's personal circumstances.


How long will the council take?

 

The council should decide your application within eight weeks. If it cannot do so, it will usually seek your written consent to extend the period. If it has not done so, you can appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions but appeals can take several months to decide and it may be quicker to reach agreement with the council.


What can I do if planning permission is refused or conditions are imposed on the permission?

 

If the council refuses permission or imposes conditions, it must give reasons and, when this is the case, you are be able to submit another application with modified plans free of charge within 12 months of the decision on your first application. Alternatively, if you think the council's decision is unreasonable you may wish to consider appealing to the Secretary of State. Appeals must be made within six months of the date of the council's notice of decision. You can also appeal if the council does not issue a decision within eight weeks. Appeals are intended as a last resort and they can take several months to decide. It is often quicker to discuss with the council whether changes to your proposal would make it more acceptable.

 

 

Building Regulations

 

New building work will often need to comply with the Building Regulations.

These prescribe minimum standards for health and safety and deal with the technical performance of the building.

 

Where planning permission is concerned with the impact of the proposal on it's surroundings, Building Regulations deals with issues such as thermal insulation, structural design, resistance to moisture and drainage.

 

There are two types of building control providers - the Local Authority and Approved Inspectors.


Local Authority Building Control

 

Each Local Authority in England and Wales (Unitary, District and London Boroughs in England and County and County Borough Councils in Wales) has a Building Control section. The Local Authority has a general duty to see that building work complies with the Building Regulations - except where it is formally under the control of an Approved Inspector.

 

The majority of home improvements are inspected by the Local Authority inspectors and the Home Extension Team will deal with all notifications, applications, etc that are required for your proposal.


Approved Inspectors

 

Approved Inspectors are companies or individuals authorised under the Building Act 1984 to carry out building control work in England and Wales.

 

A free explanatory booklet, Building Regulations, a leaflet on the Party Wall Act and other guidance should be available from your council.

 

Other Consents

 

There are other consents or approvals you may need to obtain before you can start work.

 

Some of these are controlled by the council such as Listed Building approval whereas others, such as covenants, or other restrictions in the title or lease to your property, may require you to obtain someone else's agreement before carrying out some kinds of work to your property.

 

This may be the case even if you do not need to apply for planning permission. You can check this yourself or consult a lawyer. You may also find that some properties enjoy historic rights. The council has no involvement in checking or enforcing your private rights such as a "right to light".