Do I need planning permission for internal changes to my property?

Do I need planning permission for internal changes to my property?

A: Internal changes don’t normally need planning.

For example, if you have a two bedroom flat, you can change it to a three bedroom flat without planning, however if the flat is a leasehold property, you will need permission from the freeholder for any structural changes.

A client of ours has a flat in Homes for Haringey and decided to convert it from a two bedroom flat to a four person HMO without informing the freeholder, through complaints from the neighbours the freeholder found out, they almost forfeited the lease, and took away the flat! They made him put it back to the original layout, as well he had to get Building Control final certificate.

Internal changes with structural modifications will need Building Control approval, to get this you will need engineering drawings and you will need building control to come on site for a visit whilst the works are being carried out, e.g. if you are planning to remove your chimneys, you will need engineering drawings to design the way the chimney stacks are supported, yow will also need building control on site, you may also require a party wall agreement if the chimney breast you are removing is on the party wall.

If you decide to go the other way and convert from a two or three flats to a single dwelling, you do not need to apply for planning permission as you have a permitted development rights to make internal changes as long there are no external changes to the building.

Please see this extract from an application in Haringey for a change of use from 2 flats to a single dwelling:

[Section 55(1) of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 defines “development” as; the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. For the purposes of this Act. ‘building operations’ includes – a. demolition of buildings; b. rebuilding; c. structural alterations of or additions to buildings; and d. other operations normally undertaken by a person carrying on business as a builder. Planning Officer Delegated Report The following operations or uses of land shall not be taken for the purposes of this Act to involve development of the land – a. the carrying out for maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any building or works, which – i. affect only the interior of the building; or do not materially affect the external appearance of the building. The proposal makes no external alterations to the existing building and there would be no change of the use class of the building, that being C3. The proposal is therefore not considered to be development and would not require planning permission.]

As far as I’m aware, the only road that I know of that the council still does not allow to change from 2 flats to a single dwelling is Ferndale Road in N15, as they are claiming that the feature of the street is to have 2 flats in each house, the council will also not allow a type 3 loft on this road.

Another important point worth mentioning, if you have planning permission to convert a house into flats, you will need to follow the drawings precisely, and if you don’t the council can serve you a breach of conditions notice, where the only way of appeal this is through the High Courts, were the fees for a barrister will start at close to £15k, with very little chance of approval.


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