What is planning permission?
Constructing a new building and making major changes to an existing property, for example adding a new extension, will probably need consent from your local planning authority. This is known as planning permission. The aim is to protect your neighbours and control the development of urban and rural areas.
If a project needs planning permission and you go ahead without it, you can apply retrospectively. However, this is highly risky as there is no guarantee permission will be granted and the local authority can serve you with an ‘enforcement order’ ordering you to undo all the work you have done. It is illegal to ignore an enforcement order although you have the right to appeal.
Do you need expert help?
Perhaps the first question to ask is, do you need professional help? Failing to consult the right professionals at the start of a building project, can be costly in both time and money. An architect or planning consultant can help you get planning permission when you might otherwise struggle or fail while a structural engineer will ensure the work won’t damage a property. You could also be legally obliged to hire a party wall surveyor if the planned building work affects a shared wall or chimney or is within a few metres of your neighbour’s foundations.
When you don’t need planning permission
There is no need to apply for planning permission for many building projects that have no impact on neighbours, for example reconfiguring rooms, adding a conservatory or simple loft conversion subject to certain limitations on size. This is known as ‘Permitted Development Rights.’ It is a good idea to ask your local authority or property professional if your building project will need planning permission. Nor do you need to apply for planning permission for minor repairs or improvements, such as painting your house or upgrading windows. Any works to alter or improve a house must be sympathetic to the existing building. This means materials used, for example cladding, should be of similar appearance to those already visible from the outside of your home, although not necessarily exactly the same. If you want a different look, for example swapping tiles on the front of the house for stucco, you may need planning permission. When you replace windows, the glazing must comply with Building Regulations on thermal performance, safety, air supply and ventilation. Tradespeople who are registered with Competent Person Schemes can self-certify that their work complies with the regulations.
If you live in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Park Authority, Conservation Area or listed building, you do not have standard permitted development rights. Your powers to make alternations to the property are limited and you need special consents.
Some work can be done under "Permitted Development Rights"
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