Do I need planning permission

Last updated: March 2024 | 3 min read

Planning home improvements in the UK? Grasping planning permission is vital. This guide, part of our Do I need planning permission series, ensures your project aligns with UK regulations. Learn about neighborly considerations like right to light and laws on fencing between neighbours, blending legal compliance with community harmony. Start your journey with confidence, understanding every step of the home improvement process.

Understanding planning permission and your project

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is a formal approval from your local authority, essential for certain building projects in the UK. It ensures that your proposed development adheres to the National Planning Policy Framework and local development plans.

When you're planning alterations to your home, understanding whether you need planning permission is your first step. It's a legal requirement for major changes to buildings and land.

Key differences: Planning permission vs building regulations

Planning permission and building regulations approval are often confused, but they serve different purposes. Planning permission focuses on the aesthetics, impact on the environment, and use of land.

In contrast, building regulations approval concerns the safety and structural integrity of the building work. Some projects might require both, while others may need just one or neither.

Common misconceptions about planning permission

There are several misconceptions about planning permission. Many believe small projects don't require it, but this isn't always the case. Permitted development rights allow certain works without needing planning permission, but limits apply.

Understanding these common misconceptions helps you avoid unwittingly breaching planning laws, which can lead to enforcement notice from your local council.

Projects likely to require planning permission

When does a house extension need planning permission?

House extensions often need planning permission. Your local planning authority determines if your extension project requires approval.

Factors influencing this decision include the extension's size, location, and impact on neighbours and the environment. Larger or more complex extensions typically require permission. It's wise to check with your local authority before starting any work.

Single storey extensions and planning rules

Single storey extensions fall under specific planning rules. These rules consider aspects like the extension's height, the distance from the boundary, and the percentage of land covered by the development.

In some cases, single storey extensions may be covered by permitted development rights, eliminating the need for full planning permission. Always verify with your local planning authority to ensure compliance.

Double storey extensions: Navigating the planning process

Double storey extensions usually require more scrutiny in the planning process. They can have significant visual and environmental impacts, potentially affecting neighbours' privacy and light. You'll need to consider guidelines on height, roof design, and distance from boundaries. Applying for planning permission for a double storey extension involves detailed plans and possibly consultation with neighbours.

Garage conversions and planning consent

Garage conversions typically need planning consent, especially if you're changing the building's use or structure. Whether you're turning your garage into a living space, office, or another functional area, it's essential to obtain approval from your local authority. This ensures your conversion complies with building regulations and local development rules.

Loft conversions: Do they require planning permission?

Loft conversions often require planning permission, particularly for major changes like altering the roof structure or height. Smaller conversions may fall under permitted development rights. However, it's always prudent to check with your local authority. They'll provide guidance on any specific requirements or restrictions in your area.

Changing the external appearance of your home

Altering your home's external appearance usually requires planning permission. This includes significant changes like adding a bay window, altering the roof slope, or changing the principal elevation.

These modifications can affect the character of the area, particularly in conservation areas or listed buildings. Consult your local planning authority to understand the specific requirements for your proposed changes.

Permitted development rights explained

What falls under permitted development?

Permitted development rights allow you to make certain changes to your home without the need for planning permission. These rights are subject to conditions and limits, ensuring that the development is in harmony with the surrounding area. Common projects under permitted development include minor extensions, certain types of conversions, and specific alterations. Understanding these rights is essential before starting your project. Always check with your local planning authority as specific rules may vary.

Understanding your permitted development limits

The extent of your permitted development rights depends on several factors. These include the type of property you own, its location, and whether any previous modifications have been made. In designated areas such as conservation areas or national parks, restrictions are often tighter.

For terraced houses, the limits for rear extensions, for example, differ from those for detached homes. It's crucial to understand these limits to ensure your project complies with the permitted development rules.

Lawful development certificates: Why they matter

A Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) is not a requirement but is highly advisable. It's a legal document confirming that your project complies with permitted development rights and doesn't require planning permission. Obtaining an LDC provides peace of mind and can be invaluable when selling your property, as it proves to potential buyers that the work is lawful. Apply for an LDC through your local planning authority.

How to use the planning portal for your project

The Planning Portal is a valuable online resource for managing your planning permission needs. To use it effectively, start by selecting the relevant section for your project type. The portal offers guidance on permitted development, planning applications, and building regulations. It also provides interactive tools to help you determine whether you need planning permission or building regulations approval.

Resources available on the planning portal

On the Planning Portal, you'll find a wealth of resources to guide you through your project. These include detailed guides on common projects like garage conversions, single storey rear extensions, and external alterations.

There are also downloadable forms for planning applications, and links to your local authority's planning department. The portal simplifies the process of understanding and applying for planning permission, ensuring you have all the necessary information at your fingertips.

Applying for planning permission: a step-by-step guide

Preparing your planning application

Start by gathering information about your proposed development. This involves understanding your project's scope, scale, and potential impact. Research local planning policies to ensure your proposal aligns with them. You'll also need to consider any specific requirements for your area, like conservation restrictions.

Required documents for a planning application

For your application, compile detailed plans of the proposed development. These include site plans, floor plans, and elevations of the existing and proposed structures. Additionally, you'll need a written description of your proposal. Sometimes, you might also need to provide an ecological or heritage assessment, depending on your project's nature and location.

Submitting your planning application online

With all documents ready, submit your application through your local authority's planning portal. This online submission ensures a streamlined process. You'll need to fill in an application form, upload your documents, and pay the applicable fee. Remember to check for any local requirements that might affect your application.

What happens after submitting your application?

After submission, your local planning authority will validate your application. They check if all necessary information is present and then officially register it. The authority will then consult with local residents and statutory consultees. They'll consider any objections or support for your proposal.

Understanding the planning application review process

The review process involves a detailed assessment of your proposal against local and national planning policies. Factors like design, impact on neighbours, and environmental considerations are evaluated. The decision-making timeframe typically spans eight weeks for minor applications and thirteen weeks for major ones.

Special considerations and exemptions

Planning permission in conservation areas

In conservation areas, homeowners face stricter rules. Any major change, including building or demolishing structures, requires planning permission. Even minor alterations visible from the road may need consent. Local authorities aim to preserve the area's distinctive character. It's best to consult with them before starting any work.

Requirements for listed buildings

Owning a listed building means adhering to specific regulations. Any alteration, extension, or demolition requires listed building consent, in addition to planning permission. This ensures the building's historic significance is preserved. It's crucial to consult heritage experts and local planning authorities early in the project.

Projects in areas of outstanding natural beauty

Building work in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) is tightly controlled. The emphasis is on conserving natural landscapes. Significant developments, like new buildings, usually need planning permission. Sometimes, even smaller projects like garden rooms or boundary walls require approval. Always check with local authorities before proceeding.

What if planning permission is denied?

Common reasons for planning permission refusal

Planning permission may be denied for several reasons. Common ones include the proposed building's size, design, or impact on neighbors and the environment. The project might also contravene local development plans. Understanding local planning policies and consulting with the local authorities can help avoid these pitfalls.

Appealing a planning permission decision

If planning permission is denied, an appeal is possible. This involves submitting a case to the Planning Inspectorate. The appeal must be based on valid planning grounds. It's advisable to seek professional advice to navigate this process effectively. Remember, the appeal must be lodged within a specific timeframe after the decision.

Planning permission: Impact on property value and sale

How planning permission affects your property's value

Granting of planning permission often boosts a property's market value. Potential buyers view approved plans as a green light for future expansions or changes. This increased value stems from the elimination of uncertainty regarding what alterations are permissible. For example, in areas with strict planning controls like conservation areas or national parks, obtaining permission can significantly elevate a property's attractiveness and price.

In contrast, the absence of required planning permission can devalue a property. Properties in violation of planning rules may face enforcement actions, deterring buyers. Thus, securing planning permission not only ensures compliance but can be a savvy financial move for homeowners looking to sell.

Selling a property with planning permission

Selling a property with existing planning permission offers distinct advantages. It provides buyers with a clear vision of potential property modifications. This can be particularly appealing for family houses, terraced houses, or any property where expansion possibilities are a key selling point.

When marketing a property with planning permission, it's beneficial to highlight the scope of permissible changes. Whether it's for a single storey rear extension, garage conversion, or even the installation of solar panels on the existing roof, these approved plans can be a major selling point. It's essential, however, to ensure all permissions align with current planning system rules and are up to date.

Outdated or lapsed permissions may need renewal every few years, typically within eight weeks, to maintain their validity.

For properties in special areas, like those requiring tree preservation orders or listed building consent, having relevant permissions in place can simplify the selling process. This pre-approval reassures potential buyers about the feasibility of their plans and can make a property stand out in the competitive real estate market.

Frequently asked questions

Do solar panels require planning permission?

Solar panels can be a smart addition to your home. However, whether you need planning permission depends on several factors. In many cases, solar panels are considered permitted development. This means they don't require planning permission if they adhere to certain conditions.

These conditions include not protruding more than 200mm beyond the plane of the roof and ensuring the installation respects the appearance of the building and its surroundings. However, if your home is a listed building or located in a conservation area or national park, you'll need to obtain planning permission.

Can I build a new structure in my garden without planning permission?

Adding a new structure to your garden can transform your outdoor space. But before you start, it's essential to understand the permitted development rules. Structures like sheds, greenhouses, and summer houses often fall under permitted development, meaning they don't require planning permission.

However, this is subject to limits and conditions. For example, the structure should not cover more than half the area of land around the original house. If your plan includes raised platforms, verandas, or balconies, or if the structure is closer to a public highway, you may need to apply for planning permission.

How long is planning permission valid in the UK?

Once granted, planning permission in the UK is typically valid for three years. This means you must start your building project within this timeframe. If you don't commence the work within three years, the permission expires, and you'll need to reapply.

It's important to note that 'starting the work' doesn't just mean breaking ground; it involves beginning the work outlined in your planning permission application. Always check your permission's specific conditions, as there can be variations.

What are the implications of building without planning permission?

Building without the necessary planning permission can lead to significant issues. If you undertake a project without permission, or if your project doesn't comply with the details of an existing permission, you may face enforcement action.

This could mean modifying or demolishing the unauthorised work. Additionally, building without permission can cause problems when selling your property. Prospective buyers often seek reassurance that all building works are lawful.

Rectifying unauthorised work can be costly and time-consuming, so it's always better to seek the correct permissions before starting your project.

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