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This is the most commonly posed question to James when talking about new project enquiries “When do you need planning permission?”.

With the proliferation of domestic new build and renovation TV programmes including Grand Designs, Homes Under the Hammer and The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes more and more people are thinking about refurbishing, extending their home or even building a new one. The critical question which needs answering before any work can legally start is ‘When do you need planning permission?’.

In very simple terms planning permission is required if any development is taking place. The definition of development includes: the demolition of buildings, rebuilding, structural alterations to an existing building or constructing a new building. Planning permission is required if you are changing the use of a building (for example changing a barn to an office or domestic annex).

Demolition of extension
Demolition of extension
Proposed South Elevation
Proposed South Elevation

Different types of planning permission

There are a range of planning permission types which you may need to apply for, which one is relevant to your project is dependent on your house and its location. Most of the work we undertake comes under the banner of Householder Planning Applications but there are also Listed Building Consent Applications and Conservation Area Consent Applications (required by law if your home is a Listed property or if it is located in a designated Conservation Area, a National Park, a World Heritage Site or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

There are also Prior Approval processes, Class Q and permitted development legislation, which allows some development activity without going through a planning application process. This can be a complex area and we would need to consider your requirements carefully to advise how you should proceed.

If you are unsure of the legal requirements for your proposed project James Wells Architects can guide you through the process and advise when do you need planning permission. James has been running James Wells Architects since 1995 and has over 30 years of experience in architectural design over this time. James has seen the planning process grow more and more complicated. He comments, “The legal requirements today demand that we need to justify the impact of any development on: landscape, local biodiversity, the effect on local bats and the building’s impact on dark skies policy, water neutrality, noise assessment of building work and sustainability issues.”

When we are approached by a new client there is significant background research and analysis to be carried out for each project. On appointment we will consider the site:

  • What is the planning history?
  • Does the site sit within a settlement boundary?
  • What is the village plan for the area?
  • What is the local plan of the relevant local authority?
  • What are the current national policies in relation to the site?
  • Have there been recent relevant appeals which can provide a basis for developing policy?

Additionally, we will look at permitted development rights. Finally, we will need to ascertain if there are any legal restrictions on the site (such as covenants or wayleaves). Once all this research is undertaken we then move on to consider the client’s requirements and what they are hoping to achieve with their budget.

What is Permitted Development?

If you are doing alterations to the interior of a non-listed building, not changing the use and not making any material changes to the external appearance of a building then applying for planning permission is not required.

However, there are also other permissions or consents which are required for other changes: works to protect trees, listed building consent, building regulations not to mention hazardous substances consent and environmental permits.

What is ‘Prior Approval’?

Certain types of development are pre-consented, such as the conversion of some types of commercial property to residential use (such as redundant agricultural property or some commercial property in built-up urban areas). However, specific exclusions can apply. Once again it is vital that you find out when do you need planning permission.

Who do you apply to when you need planning permission?

Planning applications are handled by each local planning authority which is operated by your local council. If your house is located within a National Park there will be a separate authority, such as the South Downs National Park Authority but some of their planning applications are administered by the various local councils who cover the region within the SDNP.

Here is an example of a refurbishment project on a Grade II Listed House which required extensive refurbishment and therefore planning permission, this is located in the SDNP.

James comments, “many of our client’s first question is When do you need planning permission? If your house is listed even without significant building work a simple internal remodelling or refurbishment will still need a listed building consent. If the property is in the South Downs National Park the level of control on external changes is more stringent.”

New Front Porch exterior
New Front Porch exterior
New Front Porch exterior with FF Dormer
New Front Porch exterior with FF Dormer
New South Elevation
New South Elevation

Find Out More

For more extensive information on all aspects of when you need planning permission, please visit Planning Portral. 

To find out if you need planning permission for your building project please fill out the form below and James will get back to you.

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