Guidance Print When is permission required?

What is development?

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Planning permission is only needed if the work being carried out meets the statutory definition of ‘development’ which is set out in Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

‘Development’ includes:

  • building operations (e.g. structural alterations, construction, rebuilding, most demolition);
  • material changes of use of land and buildings;
  • engineering operations (e.g. groundworks);
  • mining operations;
  • other operations normally undertaken by a person carrying on a business as a builder.
  • subdivision of a building (including any part it) used as a dwellinghouse for use as two or more separate dwellinghouses

The categories of work that do not amount to ‘development’ are set out in Section 55(2) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • interior alterations (except mezzanine floors which increase the floorspace of retail premises by more than 200 square metres)
  • building operations which do not materially affect the external appearance of a building. The term ‘materially affect’ has no statutory definition, but is linked to the significance of the change which is made to a building’s external appearance.
  • a change in the primary use of land or buildings, where the before and after use falls within the same use class.

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Does all development require planning permission?

Section 57 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 directs that all operations or work falling within the statutory definition of ‘development’ require planning permission. However, there are different types of planning permission, such as:

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Does all development require a planning application to be made for permission to carry out the development?

Development does not in all instances require a planning application to be made for permission to carry out the development. In some cases development will be permitted under national permitted development rights. To receive a formal confirmation of this, an application for a certificate of lawful development can be submitted to a local planning authority.

There may also be a locally granted planning permission in place that covers the type of development you wish to undertake, in the form of a Local Development Order, a Neighbourhood Development Order or a Community Right to Build Order.

In all other cases it will be necessary to make a planning application to a local planning authority.

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If it is not necessary to make a planning application, are there any other steps required before the development goes ahead?

Even if a planning application is not needed, other consents may be required under other regimes. The following list is not exhaustive but illustrates some of the other permissions or consents that may need to be obtained before carrying out development:

It is the developer’s responsibility to ensure that any necessary permissions, consents and permits (including permits and licences outside of planning such as those granted under the Licensing Act 2003 and Gambling Act 2005) are in place when required.

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What if there are restrictions through deeds or covenants that prevent development? 

Land ownership, including any restrictions that may be associated with land, is not a planning matter. An appropriate legal professional will be able to provide further advice on this if necessary.

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What happens if development is carried out without the necessary planning permission?

If development is carried out without the necessary planning permission, this may lead to enforcement action.

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Where can applicants find out more?

A local planning authority delivers the planning service for a local area and should always be the first point of contact for any planning enquiries. A local planning authority will have professional planning officers working for them who can offer planning advice, particularly on the interpretation of planning law and planning policy. Some local planning authorities charge for pre-application advice. Further advice will also be available from a professional planning consultant.

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How can disagreements with a local planning authority’s actions, or its interpretation of planning rules, be resolved? 

If an applicant disagrees with a planning decision because they believe that a proposal was in conformity with national and local planning policy, then the decision can be appealed to the Planning Inspectorate.

If a person is unhappy with the approach that a local planning authority has taken to a proposed or existing development then they can consider going through the local government complaints procedure. If this does not resolve the issue, they could make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman is only able to consider the procedure followed and conduct of a local planning authority. The Ombudsman does not have the power to rescind a grant of planning permission. Further advice will also be available from an appropriate legal professional or professional planning consultant.

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What is the Use Classes Order? 

The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, as amended, groups common uses of land and buildings into classes. The uses within each class are, for planning purposes, considered to be broadly similar to one another. The different use classes are:

  • Part A
    • Class A1 – Shops
    • Class A2 – Financial and professional services
    • Class A3 – Restaurants and cafes
    • Class A4 – Drinking establishments
    • Class A5 – Hot food takeaways
  • Part B
    • Class B1 – Business
      • B1(a) offices excluding those in A2 use
      • B1(b) Research and development of products or processes
      • B1(c) Light industry
    • Class B2 – General Industrial
    • Class B8 – Storage and distribution
  • Part C
    • Class C1 – Hotels
    • Class C2 – Residential institutions
    • Class C2A – Secure residential institutions
    • Class C3 – Dwellinghouses
    • Class C4 – Small Houses of multiple occupation
  • Part D
    • Class D1 – Non-residential institutions
    • Class D2 – Assembly and leisure

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What is a sui generis use? 

Not all uses of land or buildings fit within the use classes order. When no use classes order category fits, the use of the land or buildings is described as sui generis, which means ‘of its own kind’. Examples of sui generis uses include: scrap yards, petrol stations, taxi businesses, casinos (these examples are not exhaustive).

Where land is or buildings are being used for different uses which fall into more than one class, then overall use of the land or buildings is regarded as a mixed use, which will normally be sui generis. The exception to this is where there is a primary overall use of the site, to which the other uses are ancillary.  For example, in a factory with an office and a staff canteen, the office and staff canteen would normally be regarded as ancillary to the factory.

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When does a change of use require planning permission?

A change of use of land or buildings requires planning permission if it constitutes a material change of use. There is no statutory definition of ‘material change of use’; however, it is linked to the significance of a change and the resulting impact on the use of land and buildings. Whether a material change of use has taken place is a matter of fact and degree and this will be determined on the individual merits of a case.

If planning permission is required for change of use, there may be permitted development rights which allow change of use without having to make a planning application.

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Is movement between uses within the same use class development? 

Movement from one primary use to another within the same use class is not development, and does not require planning permission.

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Is planning permission required to sub-divide a building?

Planning permission may not be required to sub-divide a building where:

  • sub-division does not involve physical works that amount to development;
  • the use of any newly formed units after a building has been sub-divided falls within the same use class as the building’s existing primary use before it was sub-divided, or there is a permitted development right allowing the new use; and/or
  • the sub-division does not involve converting a single dwelling house to contain more than one residential unit.

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Do I need planning permission to home work or run a business from home?

Planning permission will not normally be required to home work or run a business from home, provided that a dwelling house remains a private residence first and business second (or in planning terms, provided that a business does not result in a material change of use of a property so that it is no longer a single dwelling house). A local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether planning permission is required and will determine this on the basis of individual facts. Issues which they may consider include whether home working or a business leads to notable increases in traffic, disturbance to neighbours, abnormal noise or smells or the need for any major structural changes or major renovations.

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Is planning permission required to rent out a private residential parking space?

The Government’s view is that households should be able to rent parking spaces without planning permission, provided there are no substantive planning concerns such as public nuisance to neighbours.

There is a public interest from such renting, by providing more cheap and flexible parking spaces for people to park their car and taking pressure away from on-street parking.

Councils should also consider citizens’ ability to exercise their private property rights and benefit from the peaceful enjoyment of their possessions.

The decision on whether renting out a private residential parking space requires planning permission will depend on two principal factors:

  1. The first is whether renting out a parking space results in a material change in the use of the space. Determining whether there has been a material change of use will depend on whether a space is used in a significantly different way to how a private residential parking space would normally be used as a parking space (irrespective of the identity of the driver). For example, if by renting out spaces, it causes a notable public or neighbour nuisance. A local planning authority will make this decision based on relevant facts and on a case by case basis.
  2. The second is whether there are any other relevant planning considerations, such as planning conditions, which impose restrictions that prevent parking spaces being rented out.

If renting out parking spaces does not amount to a material change of use and if there are no other planning considerations that prevent parking spaces from being rented out then it would not require planning permission.

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