What is planning permission?
Planning permission is the official authorisation to build a new property, add to an existing property or change the use of a property.
Planning permission UK – Permission for planning has been required in the UK for any new ‘development’ since 1st July 1948, when the Planning Act 1947 came into effect.
When is planning permission required?
Permission is required before any work is started. This means you need to allow enough time to submit your planning application and have planning permission granted before lining up builders and other tradespeople.
What do I need permission for?
Having permission granted means the work you would like to carry out fits within the UK government’s national planning policy and has been approved by the local authority.
It is required to ensure that property owners are considerate and sympathetic to both the surrounding community and the history of any existing building.
When do you need planning permission?
Whether you need planning permission for your individual project will depend on the scope of the work that you intend to carry out.
The details of when planning permission is and isn’t required is, at times, complex. Below we have outlined some of the individual projects when you do and do not need planning permission:
Do you need planning permission for an extension?
When you are building an extension to add value to your home; whether or not you need planning will depend on several things.
You do not require permission for extension building if the extension fits within permitted development. Permitted developments rights allow house extensions to be built without planning permission as long as the meet the following criteria:
- The extension should not extend beyond the front of the property.
- Less than half of the area of land around the original dwelling should be covered by additional building.
- The extension should not be higher than the current highest part of the roof.
- The extension should not go more than three metres beyond the rear wall of the original dwelling if it is an attached property, or four metres beyond the rear wall of a detached home.
- The maximum height of a single storey extension should not exceed four metres.
- Side single storey extensions should not exceed four metres in height and their width should be no more than half that of the original dwelling.
- Two storey extensions should be at least seven metres from the rear boundary.
- The roof pitch of the extension should match the existing dwelling if higher than single storey.
- The materials used should be similar in appearance to the existing dwelling.
- No verandas, balconies or raised platforms are permitted.
Do you need planning permission to convert a garage?
As long as the work being carried out is internal, and does not enlarge the footprint of the property, getting permission is not usually required to convert a garage.
If you intend to turn the garage into a separate dwelling, you should contact your local planning authority, as permission may be required. You should not begin work until you have received clarification regarding the planning requirements.
Do you need planning permission for a loft conversion?
Whether you need permission for a loft conversion will depend largely on the scope of the conversion.
A loft conversion that does not exceed the following limits should be allowable according to permitted development rules:
- The volume should not exceed an additional 40 cubic metres of roof space in terraced houses, and a volume of 50 additional cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.
- The extension should not extend above the highest part of the existing roof.
- The materials should be similar in appearance to those used for the existing dwelling.
- There should be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
- Any side-facing windows should be obscured glass and any opening should be 1.7 metres above the floor.
- Roof extensions are not permitted in certain areas, including national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.
- Roof extensions should be set back at least 20cm from the original eaves.
- The roof enlargement should not overhang the original outer wall of the property.
Do you need planning permission for shed construction?
Garden sheds come under the same planning rules as all other outbuilding. Outbuildings are generally considered to be permitted development, as long as they meet the following conditions and limitations:
- No outbuilding should be positioned forward of the front of the main dwelling.
- Outbuildings should be single story, no taller than four metres and with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres.
- Any outbuilding must not be taller than 2.5 metres if they are within two metres of the property boundary.
- No more than half of the area around the property should be taken up with outbuildings.
How long does planning permission take?
Your local authority should give you a decision on your permission application within eight weeks of your application being submitted. If your planning application is for a large or particularly complex project, it may take a little longer, however your local planning office should be able to give you guidance on how long your application is likely to take.
How to apply for planning permission
Applying for planning permission is really quite straight forward.
If you type ‘how to get planning permission’ into a search engine, one of the options that comes up should be the planning portal website, which is the official council planning permission website.
You can use the planning portal website to submit a planning application quickly and easily online.
Once you have submitted your application, your local planning authority will assess your plans and decide whether it fits with its local development plan. This assessment will be made based on the following considerations:
- Layout and external appearance of the changes
- The current infrastructure available
- What you plan to use the development for
- Any landscaping needs
- How your development would affect the surrounding area
A neighbour objecting to an application does not necessarily mean that permission will not be granted.
How to view planning applications
Once your planning application has been submitted, you do a search to check planning permission application progress and status.
You can do this on your local authority website, using your planning application number or searching by address.
How much does planning permission cost?
The cost of planning permission will vary, depending on the scope of the work you intend to carry out.
A planning applications for a simple extension or alteration to a single, owner-occupied home should cost just over £200, but this price rises substantially for more complex projects such as the creation of new properties and commercial planning applications.
How long does planning permission last?
If planning permission is granted, you will be advised of any conditions that accompany the approval, which may stipulate how long the planning permission approval is valid for.
However, as a general rule, planning permission is usually valid for a period of three years.
What is outline planning permission?
Outline planning permission seeks to determine whether the general size and scope of a planning application would be acceptable, in theory, before a full, detailed planning application is submitted.
It is a way of ‘sounding out’ the local planning authority before spending a significant amount of time and money on getting detailed plans produced.
Retrospective planning permission 4 year rule and building without planning permission
If you have mistakenly carried out work that you now believe may have required planning permission, or you are buying a house that has previously had an extension built without gaining the necessary planning permission, you can apply for retrospective planning permission.
This route, however, is not necessarily the most simple option. A fee will be payable to the local authority, and if the planning application is refused, the local authority has the right to enforce the decision and require you to ‘undo’ the changes made.
The better solution, if you think you have an extension without planning permission, is to purchase a planning permission indemnity insurance, which will cover you against legal risks.
It is worth noting, however, that under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the local authority only has four years from the completion of any work to make an enforcement. Any changes that have been completed for more than four years, without being challenged, are immune from challenge by the local authority.
This is only true for a single dwelling though, for any other type of land or development, the time limit is ten years, rather than four.
When do I need planning permission and when do I need building regulations?
Planning permission and building regulations can be confusing. What do you need planning permission for and what do you need building regulations for?
The short answer is that building regulations should be adhered to whenever you’re completing any building work in your property, whether planning permission is required or not.
If the work you are planning to carry out is covered by permitted development, you will still need to ensure that you seek building regulations approval and get evidence that this has taken place.
Planning permission refused
If your planning application is refused, you should be given a document outlining why approval was not given. If you are unhappy with the decision, it is worth contacting the local planning authority and talking through your application with them. They may be able to advise you whether making small changes to your plans might get them approved.
Official planning permission appeals can also be made to the Secretary of State, however this can be a long and complicated process, so should be treated as a last resort.
Land value with planning permission
There are always developers and would-be self-builders looking to buy land with permission for planning already in place.
Land for sale with permission already in place will always be worth far more than land without permission, so if you have a piece of land to sell and are wondering whether it’s worth going down the route of getting permission, the answer is ‘yes’, if you think your application will be successful.
It is worth doing a lot of research on this, however, as a piece of land with refused permission is likely to be worth significantly less than land that has not had any applications submitted.