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Applying for Planning Permission

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

If you’re planning on building a new extension, getting a loft conversion or simply extending the size of your kitchen, it’s essential to make sure you’ll get planning permission.

It sounds obvious, but have planning permission in place before you start thinking about employing contractors!

Here’s our advice on applying for planning permission.

How to obtain planning permission

Your local planning and building control officers will be able to tell you whether planning permission is necessary, if it is likely to be granted and how to obtain it.

When applying for planning permission, there shouldn’t be too many delays before you get an official answer (usually around 42 days).

It will, however, involve a site visit, hence the delay.

There is no hard and fast rule on planning permission as each local authority has its own guidelines – which can be found under the Local Plan.

There are, however, general rules for UK house extensions depending on the size of your planned renovation and where it is.

You may be fortunate enough to not require planning permission!

Rights of permitted development

A single-storey rear extension in a detached home must be within eight metres of the original house wall (six metres if the house is semi-detached or terraced).

If you want a larger extension, then you will have to apply for planning permission.

Planning permission for different house types

An extension in a flat or maisonette (including a loft conversion) will always require planning permission.

A full list of permitted developments is available in the act: Legislation: The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 which was amended in 2013.

Planning permission for houses in conservation areas

If your home is ‘listed’ and sits in, or overlooks, a conservation area (such as a national park) then planning permission is essential.

Failure to apply and then go ahead with the build is treated very seriously, and could result in you landing in court facing a considerable fine – as well as having to remove the extension.

Each local authority has a planning officer who can advise on building in conservation areas.

How to apply for planning permission

If you require planning permission, you will have to send your local authority a written description of your planned extension. Include a scale drawing of your plans.

This should include its length and height, as well as the layout and the addresses of any adjoining properties.

You also need to include the developer’s contact details.

Expect to pay around £170 for this (the cost varies depending on where you live).

The council’s decision will depend on planning law as well as the impact your extension could have on neighbours.

Those neighbours physically closest will be informed and given the option to object - usually within 21 days.

If planning application is refused, there is an appeal process you can go through.

What are building regulations?

Building regulations are independent from planning regulations and must also be considered when planning works to your property.

Approval is required when the building work involves:

  • Electrics
  • Plumbing
  • Fixed air conditioning
  • Replacement windows
  • Roof coverings on pitched and flat roofs
  • Heating

The above list isn’t exhaustive so it’s worth checking beforehand with your local authority’s building control department that you don’t require approval for other works.

Once an inspection is undertaken by the department, a completion certificate will be issued.

This is often forgotten - but is vital as when the time comes to sell, you’ll have to provide the necessary documents to demonstrate your work complies with regulations.

Will I need freeholder consent?

If you’re in a leasehold property and want to change the structure, you will need to apply to your landlord or freeholder for a licence to alter.

Landlords are required to consider “reasonable” requests.

Do I need a party wall agreement?

If you plan on building an extension using a party wall, you’ll need agreement with the neighbour who shares that particular wall (it can be either a garden or house wall).

This is because if it’s a load bearing or a main structural wall then it could seriously affect their property too.

If it did affect your neighbour negatively and there was no agreement, they could take you to court for its repair - and claim compensation too.

A party wall agreement should ensure there’s no court action.

Under the Party Wall Act 1996 a neighbour must be informed at least one month before work on the shared wall begins.

It’s also a good idea to let other neighbours know, especially if their property overlooks your own.

A party wall agreement costs around £65 to be written and served by a specialised surveyor. See the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for further information.

Doing some home improvements? Read more of our tips for maintaining your home, with useful advice to help you when you're renovating!

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