What are the basics of ‘Planning Permission’ ?
Q: Could you explain the basics of Planning Permission?
A: Planning Permission, in simple terms, is like asking if you can do a certain piece of building work. It will be granted (possibly subject to certain conditions) or refused.
Parliament has given the main responsibility for planning to local planning authorities (usually, this is the planning department of your local council). Therefore, if you have any queries about a particular case, the first thing to do is to contact your planning services company (like
ourselves) or your local planning authority.
The owner is responsible for seek, or for not seeking, planning permission. If required, it should be granted before any work begins.
You can perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called “permitted development rights.”
They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament. Bear in mind that the permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. Similarly, commercial properties have different permitted development rights to dwellings.
In some areas of the country, known generally as “designated areas,” permitted development rights are more restricted. For example, if you live in a Conservation Area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a World Heritage Site, or an Article 4 designated area (an area where the government has removed these rights at request of your local council) — you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas. There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building.
A planning consultant may help with the smooth running of your project and guide you on your permitted development requirements.
Retrospective Planning Permission
If you made a change to your property that requires planning permission and you did not receive approval, a local authority can request that you submit a retrospective planning application for the work that you have already carried out. The local authority will make the request to the owner or occupier of the land concerned. Although a local authority may ask for a planning application to be submitted, that does not mean that planning permission will automatically be granted — and the application will be treated in the usual way.
If the retrospective application is refused, the local authority can issue an enforcement notice which requires you to put things back as they were.
Let your neighbours know about work you intend to carry out to your property. They are likely to be as concerned about work that might affect them as you would be about changes that might affect your enjoyment of your own property.
For example, your building work could take away some of their light or spoil a view from their windows. If the work you carry out seriously overshadows a neighbour’s window and that window has been there for 20 years or more, you may be affecting his or her “right to light” and you could be open to legal action. It is best to consult your planning consultants if you think you need advice about this.
You may be able to meet some of your neighbour’s worries by modifying your proposals. Even if you decide not to change what you want to do, it is usually better to have told your neighbours what you are proposing before you apply for planning permission or before building work starts.
If you do need to make a planning application for the work you want to carry out, the council will ask your neighbours for their views.
If you or any of the people you are employing to do the work need to go on to a neighbour’s property, you will, of course, need to obtain his or her consent before doing so.
Design & Material
Everybody’s taste varies and different styles will suit different types of property. Nevertheless, a well-designed building or extension is likely to be much more attractive to you and to your neighbours. It is also likely to add more value to your house when you sell it. It is therefore worth thinking carefully about how your property will look after the work is finished.
Extensions often look better if they use the same materials and are in a similar style to the buildings that are already there. It is impossible to give a single definition of good design in this context, as there may be many ways of producing a good result. In some areas, the council’s planning department issues design guides or other advisory leaflets that may help you. You may wish to consider using a suitably, qualified, skilled and experienced designer.
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