Planning Permission

You may be thinking of building your dream house or more commonly are looking to extend, improve or refresh your current home and need planning permission.  The questions that almost certainly will have come to your mind is:

Do I need planning permission or other approvals?

How do I go about getting drawings done?

and maybe the question of

Do I need an Architect?’

Let me attempt to answer this in this and other articles.

What approvals do I need ?


The following is a basic summary. You may need some or all of these approvals and we can advise and guide you on these.

Planning Permission

Commonly called Planning Permission and more formally known as Planning Consent

This is generally required for new building, extensions and alterations affecting the appearance of a building and/or to change the use of a building (or land).

There are exemptions (“Permitted Development”).  Although the basic core of these is set out in Legislation, Local Authorities are permitted to withdraw the exemptions, and to set local policies which affect the way the exemptions are applied.

Your property may have had some or all of these rights removed and it would be necessary to check your current planning permissions and status of this. You cannot assume that something that is ok in one area is automatically acceptable in a different area.

Planning Permission

Listed Barn Conversion, Newbury, Berkshire

Listed Building Consent

If your building is Listed the repair and maintenance using original materials (“like for like”) does not generally require Listed Building Consent. Most other work does require consent, including work within the curtilage of the property, and failure to obtain such consent before you start is potentially a criminal matter. You may need Planning Permission (Planning Consent) for the work that you propose as well.

Conservation Area Consent

If your building is situated in a conservation area, you will need this consent to demolish a building. Permitted development rights which would normally apply may well be restricted, and there will be special planning policies and design guidance in force.

Building Regulations Approval

Most Building work requires compliance with the current Building Regulations.  The regulations set out functional requirements  for all building types and are supplemented by ‘Approved Documents’ which set out ways to comply with the functional requirements.

You do not have to ‘get approval’ before you start the work but you must give a minimum period of notice of your intention to start the work and you must comply with the legislation. i.e. build in a way that is compliant with the legislation.

In most cases the Approved Document is the easiest way to demonstrate compliance. However, you are not bound to follow the Approved Documents if you can satisfy the requirement in some other way and often the use of an architect will enable an alternative solution to be achieved resulting in a better building.

When working with existing buildings it is usual to require the new work to comply and for the existing work to remain no less compliant than it would have been without the alterations.  Where a building  changes its use then the whole building is treated as having to comply with the current standards and the existing structure is upgraded.

If the current building is subject to Health and Safety legislation (for example if you employ people on the premises) then you have a duty to continue to comply with current safety regulations.  This may require that you upgrade the building.

Depending on the building type, sector of work and use there is, in conjunction with the above, much legislation to be complied with.  In addition there are ever evolving standards from other regulatory bodies.

There are other areas of law which require consideration, although no formal approvals are issued by the Local Authority, including …

The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations

The Party Wall Act

Should you plan to or carry out work on or close to a boundary you will almost certainly be required to comply with this act.

The act does not restrict itself to work only on a ‘Party wall’ as you might think from the name.See my separate article on this.

Briefly, there are some strict procedures to follow, with timetables laid down. This Act applies if you are going to do work entirely on your own land which involves digging below the depth of your neighbour’s foundations within 3 metres of their walls (or within 6 metres in some cases) or if you intend to build up to a boundary. We can advise and manage this process for you to arrive at an agreement with your neighbour, in writing that avoids any worry and confrontation.

The Disability Discrimination Act

Access for disabled persons in buildings being altered and new building is already controlled by the Building Regulations and planning policies. This Act also applies to all buildings, and may require alterations to any premises to which the public have access. ‘Disabled people’ in this context are not limited to wheelchair users.

Ancient Rights of Light

Existing buildings may have a right to daylight. (There is generally no right to sunlight or to a view). This is a common law right, and merely obtaining Planning or Building Regulations approval does not deal with any Rights of Light which exist. An adjacent building owner whose Rights have been infringed may be able to obtain an injunction stopping your building work or in an extreme case even requiring you to demolish your new building. The subject is complex, see our separate article.

If you need guidance on getting Planning Permission or other approvals call us now.

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