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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Do you need planning permission or building regulations approval?

Before you start any building work, you must check if you need planning permission. If you don't, you may break the law. Find out how to apply for planning permission, building regulations approval and other permissions - for example, relating to party walls.

Permission and approvals - the basics

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to see if you need planning permission or building regulations approval

Planning permission means asking your local planning authority if you can do a certain piece of building work. Many smaller developments in private houses (for example, extensions) don’t need planning permission but they must still follow certain building rules. These are called ‘permitted developments’.

Building regulations are separate from planning permission – they make sure primarily that the design and construction of a building is safe and energy efficient. Most building work has to meet building regulations.

To find out more about planning permission and building regulations see the link ‘How planning permission and building regulations work’. To find out about additional permissions/consents (for example, for party walls and listed buildings), see the section ‘Other permissions you may need before you start work’.

Find out if you need planning permission or approval

Use the Planning Portal’s interactive house to find out if you need:

  • planning permission
  • building regulations approval

It’s possible you might need both planning permission and building regulations approval. For other types of permission or consent see the section ‘Other permissions you may need before you start work’.

How to apply for planning permission

If you need planning permission, it's your responsibility to get it before you start work on the development. There are certain steps you need to follow and you can get someone like a solicitor or builder to do these for you. See the link ‘Apply for planning permission’ for more detail.

If your development is a ‘permitted development’ you can ask your local authority for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’. Some people do this for peace of mind as it confirms that the work is in fact a ‘permitted development’.

How to get building regulations approval

Making sure building work meets building regulations standards is usually done by your builder, but you should check your builder will do this. If you’re carrying out the work yourself and you need building regulations approval the basics are shown below.

To help you meet building regulations you can use one of two types of building control service:

  • the building control service at your local council 
  • a private sector approved inspector

You can get a list of approved inspectors from the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

If you're only installing certain types of services or fittings (for example, replacement windows, heating or hot water systems) and you employ an installer registered with a relevant competent person scheme, the installer will be able to self-certify the work. This means you won't have to involve a building control service.

There are more details on competent person schemes on the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)’s website.

Other permissions you may need before you start work

Even if you get planning permission for your proposal and it complies with building regulations, there are other permissions you might need.

Party walls

A wall is a 'party wall' if it's shared between two (or more) properties.

You must find out if building work falls within the Party Wall etc Act 1996 if it involves:

  • work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property 
  • building a freestanding wall or a wall of a building up to or shared with a neighbouring property's boundary 
  • excavating near a neighbouring building

If it does, you must notify all 'adjoining owners' before you start.

The adjoining owner may be:

  • a freehold owner 
  • a leasehold owner 
  • a long term tenant

Where there is more than one owner of the property, or more than one adjoining property, you must notify all adjoining owners.

Download 'Party Wall etc Act 1996: explanatory booklet' to find out how the Act might affect you.

Covenants and private rights

Covenants or other restrictions may require you to get someone else's agreement before carrying out some kinds of work. Check your property's title deeds or lease before you start work.

Conservation areas

Check with your local planning authority to see if your proposed work is in a conservation area before you begin any work.

Rights of way

If your proposed development would block a public path which crosses your property, you should discuss your proposals with the council at an early stage.

Listed buildings

You will need to apply for listed building consent if:

  • you want to demolish a listed building (check with your local planning authority about other procedures that must be followed) 
  • you want to alter or extend a listed building in a way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest

You may also need listed building consent for any works to separate buildings within the grounds of a listed building.

You can check whether or not a building is listed on the National Heritage database.

If you’re unhappy with a decision

If your planning application or a part of it is refused by the council, you can appeal. See the link ‘Make a planning appeal’ for more detail about when you can appeal, costs and how decisions are made. 

If the work needs building regulations approval and doesn’t get it, read the paragraph ‘How to appeal against a decision’ in ‘How planning permission and building regulations work’.

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