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Working on building plans with a pencil in hand

DO YOU NEED PLANNING PERMISSION
FOR BUILDING WORK?

If you wish to carry out building work for your home or business, there’s a good chance you will need some form of permission before the project begins. Allow AMS Surveys to identify what you need, assist with the application, and help you more forward with your plans.

WORDS FROM OUR EXTENSIVE CUSTOMER BASE

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WHAT IS PLANNING PERMISSION?

Put simply, planning permission is the approval or rejection process for building works, granted or denied by the Planning Authorities within your local council. Planning permission determines whether a development can go ahead or not, taking into consideration the appearance of buildings and the impact the development will have on its surroundings. You'll need to provide documents including the existing and proposed drawings (Architectural Designs) and a Statement of Significance if conducting work in a conservation area or on a listed building. There may also be legal or environmental restrictions in place, which would cause Planning Applications to be refused, and local authorities may grant permission subject to certain conditions.

If a Planning Application is rejected, it is always possible to lodge a Planning Appeal by modifying the application to eventually meet the requirements of the planners. It is your responsibility for seeking, or not seeking, planning permission. If required, it’s imperative it’s granted before any work begins. The team at AMS Surveys can consult on pre-application advice, Change of Use, Outline Planning Permission, Discharge of Reserve Matters and Conditions.

A young couple sitting in front of their surveyor, smiling as they look at the plans
A property surveyor looking over building plans. She is wearing a hi-vis jacket
new kitchen extension

PLANNING PERMISSION AND BUILDING REGULATIONS

Building Regulations lay down the minimum standards for design, construction and alterations to buildings in the UK and are designed to ensure buildings are safe and structurally sound. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power are conserved, and access and mobility facilities are provided for people with disabilities. Local Authority Building Control Departments work to ensure that Building Regulations are adhered to and will issue a certificate of compliance to certify that all works are compliant.

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LISTED AND HERITAGE BUILDINGS

In determining applications, local planning authorities require an applicant to describe the significance of any heritage assets affected, including any contribution made by their setting to inform the final acceptable design. The level of detail should be proportionate to the assets’ importance and no more than is sufficient to understand the potential impact of the proposal on their significance.

As a minimum the relevant historic environment record should have been consulted and the heritage assets assessed using appropriate expertise where necessary for all designs, whether it’s for house plans or a commercial premises. This type of permission is required for alterations to buildings that are listed or within a conservation area.

Picturesque Cotswold village of Castle Combe, England

TYPES OF PLANNING PERMISSION

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FULL PLANNING APPLICATION

This is the most common type of planning application. The full details of a development proposal are submitted for consideration, including detailed drawings showing the site and the work you plan to do.

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LAWFUL DEVELOPMENT CERTIFICATES

If you want to be certain that the existing use of a building is lawful for planning purposes, or that your proposal does not require planning permission, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). It is not compulsory to have an LDC but there may be times when you need one to confirm that the use, operation, or activity named in it is lawful for planning control purposes. This is particularly useful for building projects whereby Permitted Development building work was carried out many years ago but does not have any paperwork to confirm it is compliant, such as a single storey extension.

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PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS

You can carry out 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 government. 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

  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

  • Some new build estates 

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.

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RETROSPECTIVE PLANNING PERMISSION

If you have made a change to your property that requires planning permission and you have not had approval, a local authority can request that you submit a Retrospective Planning Application for the work that you have already carried out. Although a local authority may ask for a Planning Application to be submitted, it does not mean that this will automatically be granted, and the application will be treated in the usual way.

If the Retrospective Planning Application is refused, the local authority can issue an enforcement notice which requires you to put things back as they were or comply with a different design.

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House extension with a mezzanine floor, open-plan living space, and bi-fold doors

PLANNING PERMISSION FOR RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES

Planning a home improvement? Projects such as extensions, loft conversions or garage conversions will normally require to be signed off by either the Local Authority Building Control Department or private Approved Inspectors before you commence any work. Failure to so could mean the council demand you revert the property to its former state in the future.

Smaller projects and minor works can often be self-certified by the contractor carrying out the work, provided they are registered to do so on a government approved Competent Person Register. Tradespeople who are registered with a Competent Person Scheme are vetted to ensure they are qualified to carry out work in accordance with the appropriate Building Regulations.

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SUPPORT FOR DEVELOPERS AND COMMERCIAL CLIENTS

Commercial planning permission can be an extremely complex field, and the outcome depends heavily on the type of property you’re looking to change or build. That’s why seeking advice from the professionals is imperative. For the most part, approval will be needed for new builds, large renovations and extensions, and any major structural changes. However, your project may be able to go ahead under Permitted Development Rights, which we’ll happily help you explore.

If you’re developing a commercial space and plan to use the building for a different purpose than was outlined initially, you may need to seek planning permission for change of use. To identify if this is the case, we can point you in the right direction towards the planning history and ensure that everything is above board going forward.

Old mill ideal for commercial redevelopment

REGULATED AND PARTNERED WITH

View of Albert Dock and the Three Graces

ENSURE YOUR BUILDING PROJECT IS COMPLIANT

Contact AMS Surveys and our expert team, based in Liverpool and serving the Northeto assess your plans and determine if planning permission may be required.

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