Planning permissions

What projects will need planning permission in the UK?

It’s so exciting and rewarding to watch a building project come together. However, this may (at times) become overshadowed by the rules and regulations that go alongside it. 

Navigating the world of planning permission and seemingly endless paperwork can be a long, complicated process. So, in order to avoid any mishaps, it’s important to be aware of when planning permission is compulsory (and when it is not).

Taking the time to thoroughly plan will help you in the preparation stages of your project and save you money. It also ensures that work is completed on time and as required. 

Is it possible to go ahead and work on a project without planning permission? 

Technically, yes

But should you? Absolutely not

Building without the correct planning permission can end in you being hit with an enforcement notice. The result: being left with no choice but to undo all of the newly completed work. 

This would be a huge waste of time and money and is just not worth the risk. For this reason, it is essential that you are well informed of requirements before starting any projects.

In this blog, we’ll explain what planning permission is, and when it is (or isn’t) required for your project. We’ll also talk about permitted development rights and how to go about applying for planning permission. 

What is planning permission?

Simply put, planning permission is an approval granted by your local authority, which gives the go-ahead for your project. 

Its primary purpose is to prevent unsuitable developments from cropping up. As a result, you can only begin work once planning permission has been awarded. 

In the United Kingdom, planning permission is required for any new developments. 

‘Development’ in the eyes of the law means building on land or changing the use of land or buildings, which can include any engineering or mining operations too. 

There are some exclusions to the definition of development which include operations such as routine maintenance of existing buildings. Additionally, some minor or insignificant developments are granted automatic planning permission by law, so there is no need to apply. This is called permitted development….

What is permitted development?

Permitted development rights allow some small alterations and extensions to be executed without needing to submit a planning permission application.

This saves you the time, money and stress involved in applying for planning permission. 

So, it’s worth checking if your project might fall under the permitted development rights. 

What works can be carried out with permitted development rights?

Now, we know that certain building projects may not need planning permission if they fall under permitted development rights. 

But what are they?

The following can be included in the category of permitted developments:

  • Porches
  • Deckings
  • Access ramps
  • Enlarging a roof by adding a dormer
  • Attaching something/altering the outside of your house
  • Adding an extension to your house

Of course, we always recommend that you double-check with a professional, as the permission rules vary across different regions of the UK, and will depend on the specific project. 

For example, the permitted development rights regarding extensions in Scotland will depend on how many storeys it has. Single-storey extensions have different requirements to multi-storey builds; there are specific rules for each instance. 

There are also certain areas that have more restrictions, such as:

  • Conservation Areas
  • National Parks
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • World Heritage Sites
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

These rights will also not apply to flats, maisonettes, or commercial properties, so you’ll likely need planning permission for these. 

If in doubt, you should contact your local planning authority to discuss your proposal before any construction begins. They will be able to inform you of any reasons why the development may not be permitted. 

If it’s not permitted, then you may need to apply for planning permission for all, or part of, the work. 

What projects require planning permission in the UK? 

If your project does not meet the conditions for permitted development, you’ll have to apply for planning permission. 

If any of the following apply, you’ll most likely need planning permission:

  • You’re going to build something new (this can mean indoor, or an outbuilding if it’s of considerable size)
  • You want to make a major change to your building e.g. a substantial extension
  • You want to change the use of your building

In some cases, even fences will require planning permission. For example, if your property is a listed building, next to a road, or fences over a certain height.

It’s important to note that special consent is often needed for listed buildings and projects taking place in conservation areas. You can contact your planning authority to find out if this applies to you. For listed buildings specifically, you can also check Historic Scotland’s listed building search

You should always check with your council’s planning department to see whether you need to apply. Even if you don’t, there may be other approvals you’ll need to get.  

Planning permission requirements vary depending on where you are based in the UK. The rules are different between each country, and even within these, can differ again according to local council area regulations. 

Click here to find more information on the rules applying to Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

How do you apply for planning permission?

So, once you’ve figured out if you need to apply, how do you go about actually doing it?

If you’re based in Scotland, you can apply online using the ePlanning Scotland website. Alternatively, you can also visit the ePlanning Scotland website if you need paper forms. 

The law states that planning permission applications must contain certain information. This is likely to include:

  • Description of the development
  • Name and address of the person applying and agent (if any)
  • Postal address of the land or description of the location of the land
  • Certificate of ownership and notice to owners or tenants of agricultural holdings
  • A plan which clearly identifies the location of the application site
  • Other plans and drawings needed to describe the proposed development
  • A fee

It’s also worth noting that some applications may require extra information such as design and access statements. 

Of course, if this all sounds a little complicated then it’s something that we can help you with as part of our services. 

Need more help with your planning permission?

It’s nearly impossible to say definitively which kinds of projects will or will not need planning permission. This is due to the fact that each individual project will have such different characteristics and situations. 

Nonetheless, this blog should (hopefully) mean that you have a better understanding of what planning permission is. You may even find that your envisioned project falls under the permitted development rights. 

Regardless of the specifics, there’s one crucial point that you must remember when starting a project. It’s ultimately the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure that correct planning permission is applied for and building regulations are adhered to. 

If you need help with your planning permission, then get in touch with us to see how we can help.