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The Ultimate Guide To Planning Permission

June 1, 2021 1:07 pm Published by

Do I Need Planning Permission?

Are you planning an exciting new addition to your home, and have begun to worry that you might need planning permission for it? The idea that you may need planning permission to execute your design might be a bit disheartening, but it’s important not to overlook it and to make sure you do your research. 

Chances are, if you’re wondering whether you need planning permission, then you probably do. This might initially seem like an obstacle to overcome, but if you remember to think about it early enough in the building process, it can be obtained relatively easily and for a reasonable price. 

This article is the perfect guide for anyone who needs to figure out whether they will require planning permission for their project, and how to alter their project to avoid the application. We answer the all-important question ‘Do I need planning permission?’, and explain exactly what planning permission is, and everything you need to know about the relevant regulations. 


What Is Planning Permission?

Unfortunately for many home renovators and property refurbishment projects, there are rules about what you can build, or make alterations to, on your property. With most home renovation projects, you must apply for consent for the building project from the local authority – this is called planning permission. Planning permission is designed to stop people carrying out inappropriate projects, and it ensures that whatever is built doesn’t negatively impact the surrounding neighbourhood. An approved application for planning permission can turn an agricultural piece of land into a viable building plot.

The decision about whether you’re granted planning permission is made based on national guidance and local planning policies. It’s necessary for any substantial building or extensions that you’re planning, and it’s especially vital to secure approval for listed buildings and areas of conservation.  It’s important to remember that if your project requires planning permission, and you build without applying for it, you could be sent an ‘enforcement notice’ that orders you to undo all of the work.

How Long Does Planning Permission Last?

Every planning permission has an expiry date, and unless your document says otherwise, it will be three years from when your planning permission was fully approved. If you buy a property that already has planning permission approved for a future build, make sure you check when it’s going to expire, because circumstances can change and the application may not be approved a second time. For planning permission which only has a little bit of time left until expiry, it may be smart to apply again anyway, as you should give yourself enough time to plan properly and carry out an effective project. 

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

You probably need planning permission if you’re looking to:

  • Build a new dwelling – this could be either from subdividing or creating an entire new building
  • Make a significant change to your building – such as an extension or major renovation
  • Change the use of your building – e.g.) creating a business there or converting commercial property to residential homes

Projects that only need ‘permitted development rights’ include:

  • Warehouses and industrial buildings
  • Some outdoor advertisements (although they have their own rules as well)
  • Demolition (you will need to get different approval to demolish something though)
  • Small additions and improvements
  • If your project won’t have any effect on your neighbours or the environment, then it might not need planning permission

Are There Different Types of Planning Permission?

There are several different types of planning permission, but the most common are ‘outline planning permission’ and ‘full planning permission’. Full planning permission approves a detailed design of your project, but it usually comes with planning conditions that you have to carry out. You must complete these conditions, or it could invalidate the approval of your build. 

Outline planning permission grants permission for the project in principle, but it doesn’t approve the details. This is necessary if you just want to check whether you can build a house on your parcel of land – you can send a rough outline of the idea and the local authority can let you know what the restrictions are for that plot. 

Receiving outline planning permission doesn’t mean you have approval to start work. Once your outline planning permission is granted, then you will need to apply for ‘reserved matters’ – which are the other details – before you can start. Sometimes it can be a lot quicker to just apply for full planning permission in the beginning. 

How Long Does It Take to Get Planning Permission?

The length of time it takes to receive your planning permission result can vary depending on the complexity of the project. Usually it takes eight weeks to get planning permission for a minor project, but it can be extended to thirteen weeks if the proposed work is large or controversial. On rare occasions, the development may need to have an Environmental Impact Assessment, and this could take up to sixteen weeks. 

The planning permission approval process includes putting a sign outside the property which details the proposed development – this way anyone who disagrees with the idea can get in touch with the local authority. The authority will contact any neighbours that they think are likely to be impacted, as well as make statutory consultations for the local highways department, and if relevant the Environment Agency. A planning officer will also assess your application internally, and they will assess your description, research the area, and decide whether the development is appropriate.

To be safe, it’s a good idea to set aside 18 months for the planning permission process, just in case you need to make revisions and change the design. Even once you have finally received your planning permission, it doesn’t mean you can just start the project. Always double-check the planning conditions, because you might need to apply for approval for something else – such as the type of roofing material. 

What Factors Affect Getting Planning Permission?

When you apply for planning permission for your project, the local authority will make a decision based on what they call ‘material considerations’. 

These considerations can include:

  • Impact on conservation area or listed building
  • Nature conservation
  • Past planning decisions
  • Parking
  • Government policies
  • Building density and layout 
  • Loss of privacy
  • Disabled access
  • Materials, design, and appearance
  • Traffic
  • Highway safety
  • Noise
  • Loss of light
  • Development plan proposals 

The opinion of your neighbours will also influence whether you receive the planning permission or not. When the local authority invites them to comment on the project, their objections will only be considered if they are related to the material considerations. Because your neighbours opinions can so easily affect whether you get planning permission, it’s a good idea to be polite and include them in the process. If they have some small issues which really won’t affect the overall project, then maybe you should just go along with their wishes – otherwise in the end the project may not go ahead at all.

However, if someone does object to your plan, that doesn’t mean that you have no chance of getting approval. When someone objects, the decision will be made based on a majority vote at the local planning committee. Both you and your agent can address the committee and argue your case before the decision is made.


Planning Permissions by Project

Do I Need Planning Permission for House Conversions?

A house conversion can refer to a variety of project types, such as a loft conversion or turning one house into two or three smaller dwellings. Whether you need planning permission or not depends on the scale of the project. A loft conversion doesn’t need planning permission unless the amount of extra volume the project is creating is larger than 40 cubic metres for a terraced house, or 50 cubic metres for a detached or semi-detached house.

Splitting up your property into separate houses or dwellings is a large project, so it will definitely require planning permission. However, if you’re just carrying out some minor renovations, like removing or building a new internal wall, then you probably won’t need permission. This changes if your home is a listed building though, so in this instance you should check whether you need to get building consent for internal works. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for an Extension?

Requiring planning permission for an extension depends on a variety of factors, but it’s possible for you to build an extension without planning permission. These factors are called ‘permitted development rights’, and only apply to houses, not other sorts of buildings.

If you want to build an extension without planning permission you must meet these conditions:

  • The extension can only cover half the area of land around the original house
  • The roof of the extension can’t be built higher than the existing roof, and the eaves can’t be higher either
  • Any work can’t include a veranda, balcony, microwave antenna, chimney, flue, or soil and vent pipe
  • There can’t be any alteration to the existing roof
  • If it’s on Article 2(3) designated land you can’t put cladding on the exterior
  • You have to use similar materials for the exterior of the extension as the rest of the house 
  • If the extension comes within 2 metres of the boundary then the eaves can’t be higher than 3 metres 
  • It can’t be built forward of the principal elevation – or if it fronts a highway, the side elevation

If your project doesn’t meet one or more of these conditions, then you will have to apply for planning permission. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Garage?

Usually you won’t need planning permission to build a detached garage or carport on your property. But there are still some rules you need to follow to ensure you don’t need it, they are:

  • You must not use the garage as a living space – so there can’t be any beds or furniture in there that indicate it’s used for anything other than storage
  • If it’s a freestanding garage, then the floor can’t be larger than 15 square metres
  • If the garage is attached to the house, then the floor has to be less than 30 square metres
  • If your garage will be attached to the house, then it has to be made of non-flammable materials, and positioned 1 metre or more from the boundaries. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Shed?

Most sheds don’t require planning permission, but if your plan is different and doesn’t meet the regulations then you will have to apply for permission. A shed is classed as an ‘outbuilding’, just like a garage or an extension, so the rules are similar. One of the only differences concerns how high you can build a garden shed. A single-tier shed roof shouldn’t be more than 3 metres tall, or 2.5 metres if the shed is less than 1 metre from the properties boundaries. You should also take into consideration the rule that no more than half the area around the original house should be covered in buildings or extra additions. However, none of these regulations should be a problem if you just want to install a normal sized garden shed. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for Windows?

If your house isn’t a listed building, then you usually don’t need to apply for planning permission to install new windows or doors. You won’t need permission for any minor improvements, such as repairing windows and doors, replacing them with ones of a similar design, or installing secondary internal glazing. If you want to install a new bay window, then this is counted as an extension and you will probably need planning permission. Another important thing to note, is that if you’re creating new windows in an upper-floor side elevation, then they will have to be non-opening, or more than 1.7 metres above the floor, and they must be obscure-glazed. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for Decking? 

Creating decking – or other raised platforms – in your garden comes under permitted development, and so normally this doesn’t require planning permission. To ensure your deck meets regulations, and you avoid the need to apply for permission, you need to make sure:

  • The deck is no more than 30cm above the ground
  • That the deck, and any other outbuildings like sheds or garages, don’t cover more than 50 per cent of the garden area

Also, you should consider that if the deck is part of a larger project, then you may need planning permission for the whole development.

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Fence?

If you simply want to remove a fence, wall, or fence post, then you don’t need to get planning permission – unless you live in an Area of Outstanding National Beauty, then you might need to check with the local authority. 

You will need planning permission for your fence if:

  • It’s more than 2 metres tall (including trellis)
  • It’s more than 1 metre tall (if you live next to a highway)
  • Your house is a listed building

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Gate?

A gate has the same regulations as a fence, so just make sure it isn’t too tall, and check whether you have a listed building. If not, you won’t need planning permission for a gate.

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Conservatory? 

A conservatory falls under the same rules as an extension, so you can extend your house without planning permission as long as you meet the same conditions as was listed above. 

Do I Need Planning Permission for Work on my Roof?

When it comes to making changes to your roof, it really depends on the sort of project you’re doing. If you’re just repairing or re-covering less than 25 per cent of the roof, then you won’t need planning permission. 

You will need to apply for planning permission if:

  • Your roofing project includes structural alterations
  • Any roof windows or skylights protrude more than 150 millimetres above the roof plane, or the windows are higher than the highest part of the roof.

Thing You Should Remember About Planning Permission

Party Wall and Boundary Considerations

It’s important to remember that you will have to tell your neighbours before you carry out any work near or on the shared boundary of your properties – this property boundary can also be called a ‘party wall’. A party wall can be defined as a wall that stands on the land of two or more owners, and it can be part of a building or it can be something like a garden wall. Also, if you have a wall on your property that is used as a property separator by your neighbour as well, then this is a party wall too. So, if you’re planning to change part of your party wall, don’t forget to drop by your neighbour’s house for a chat.

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations are the minimum standards for construction, alterations, and design for nearly any building in the UK. They relate to the construction and extension of buildings, so you may need to get both planning permission and building regulations approval for your project. Building regulations ensure your project meets the correct standards, and is safe, and structurally sound – this can include everything from the foundations of the building to the electrical system. To get approval, you will need to apply to the local authority building control department or the approved inspector for building regulations. 

Choose a Reliable Construction Company 

Once you have the necessary planning permission and building regulations approval for your project – or you have figured out that you don’t need them – then it’s time to get started with your work. Bosaco is an expert, family-run construction company in Nottingham, and our professional building services are perfect for completing your property refurbishment, house conversions or extension project. We can advise on all aspects of planning permission and building regulations at any stage in your project. We offer free no-obligation quotes, simply contact our friendly team of professional builders and tradesmen today.


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