Guest Post: What you need to know about planning permission

Guest Post: What you need to know about planning permission

In October 2012, a survey revealed that two million Brits would like to have a new custom built, or self-build home, during the coming year.

Anyone wanting to do this though, would require planning permission to carry out their wish. Likewise, families wishing to add a conservatory to their home or wanting to extend their property, also need permission.

However it is not just family homes that need to have permission to build; commercial and industrial properties also need planning permission too.

The planning permission process can be a complicated and lengthy one. Here is a run-down of what you need to know about the whole planning permission process.

When you need it
You’ll need planning permission if you want to:
• Build something new
• Make a major change to your building – e.g. building an extension
• Change the use of your building in anyway

Should you be unsure as to whether your project will need planning permission, it is advised that you contact your local planning authority (LPA).

When you don't need it
Some building projects don’t need planning permission. This is known as ‘permitted development rights’.

Building projects that normally have permitted development rights include:
• Industrial premises and warehouses - though there are some limits and conditions
• Some outdoor signs and advertisements - though there are special rules concerning these
• Demolition - but before you begin, your local planning authority must provide you with permission to do so.

There are other projects that might not need planning permission, for example projects that will have no impact on your neighbours or the environment. If you think this could apply to your project, check with your Local Planning Authority.

If your building project benefits the local community, and the community advocates it, then you may not need to go through the normal planning permission process. Neighbourhood planning and Community Right to Build let your community grant planning permission directly, under certain circumstances.

Applying for planning permission
Should your project need planning permission, you can apply for it online.

If your project needs planning permission and you complete the work without getting it, you can be served an ‘enforcement notice’ ordering you to undo all the changes you have made. This can be extremely costly so ensure you have full planning permission before beginning any work.

Under law, it is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it. However these appeals are subject to time limits, depending upon the purpose of your project.

If your application for planning permission is refused, then you should try to reach an agreement with the LPA by adjusting your plans.

However, should you not be able to reach a solution which suits both parties, you may wish to appeal. This process can take several months to be decided.

You can only appeal against a decision if the LPA:
• refuses your application
• grants permission but with conditions you object to
• refuses to change or remove a condition of planning permission that has been granted with conditions
• refuses to approve something reserved under an ‘outline permission’ – planning permission for a general idea, not of a specific plan
• refuses to approve something that you were told to build by your LPA as part of a previous planning permission (i.e. the previous planning permission was granted ‘with conditions’ and the current development was one of the conditions)
• does not make a decision on the application within the deadline and doesn’t get your written consent to change the deadline
• serves you with an enforcement notice because it thinks you have broken planning permission and you don’t agree

After you apply
The LPA will decide whether to grant planning permission for your project based on its development plan. It will not take into account whether local people want it.

To decide whether a planning application fits with its development plan, an LPA will look at:
• the number, size, layout, sitting and external appearance of buildings
• the infrastructure available – e.g. roads and water supply
• any landscaping needs
• what you want to use the development for
• how your development would affect the surrounding area – e.g. if it would create lots more traffic

In most cases, planning applications are decided within eight weeks. In England, for unusually large or complex applications, the time limit is 13 weeks.

Hopefully, this clears up any questions you may have had about the whole planning process. It can be confusing for anybody who has no experience of dealing with the building laws and regulations; so do not be afraid to contact your local planning authority should you need further advice.

This article was written by Jonny Bridge on behalf of Flat Pack Houses. Flat pack homes prices are typically 10-25% less than conventional homes, so visit today for expert self-build advice.

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