Although it would be nice to think a property will last a lifetime of ownership, at some point natural disasters, life plans, or personal tastes and ideas will kick in, and you will want to alter, extend, repair, or maintain your property. This is where planning permission and building regulations come into play.
Not all work will require planning permission, as there’s a list of ‘permitted works’ that can be carried out on a property. These include painting the exterior of a house, most driveway resurfacing, installing roof windows, and planting hedges. Other works will require planning permission.
Planning Laws will vary for each piece of work you wish to carry out, and there may be conditions or exceptions to the rules. This could come into play if you want to carry out work on a listed building, or one in a conservation area for example. The visual impact, impact on neighbouring properties, noise levels (i.e. with wind turbines), and design (which should be in keeping with the area), will also be taken into account.
Planning Permission is granted by local authorities, in accordance with planning laws for work on properties. Applying for planning permission is normally organised into several stages. First off, you need to research your local planning regulations to find out if you’ll need planning permission, and what exceptions there are to the rules which may apply. If you do need to apply for planning permission, you can do this either online through Direct Gov’s planning portal, or via your local councils planning office. Any application will then be open to public consultation, after which the council will make their decision. The planning application will then be approved or rejected. If it is rejected you have a right to appeal, or resubmit an altered application at a later date. If it is approved, you can then continue with the proposed works on your property.
If you get to the stage where planning permission has been approved, then you must ensure that building regulations are also followed to the letter. Building Regulations govern the design and construction of buildings, and help to ensure that any work is carried out safely. Regulations could cover anything from the siting of a building/item, its usage, to potential fire hazards (fuel should be safely contained). Essentially there are two questions you need to answer when it comes to building regulations. Firstly, work out which building regulations you need to follow, and secondly, find out if you need building regulation approval for the work.
Local councils have their own building control services to help you follow the regulations, or there are also approved private building inspectors. You can find out about these from the Construction Industry Council. As with most things, there are exceptions to the rules, and if you are carrying out certain types of work, such as fitting replacement windows, then you may not need this service. In this instance you just need to check that the people you employ are registered with a Competent Person Scheme, so they can self-certify the work.
Planning application and building regulations often walk hand in hand, but there may be instances when you will need either one or the other, so if you’re not sure it’s always worth checking with your local planning authority.
Although in some circumstances it may be possible to get retrospective planning permission after some work has been carried out, for the most part you need to get relevant approval for all your plans before any construction or alteration starts. If you don’t follow these procedures correctly, you may find yourselves on the wrong side of the law, which could mean demolition of the work you have just spent a lot of time and money on.
There’s one final thing you need to remember when carrying out your work, and that’s your neighbours! You should make them aware of any work you plan to carry out, and if necessary, try to address any concerns they may have with your builder/and or architect. You should also make sure your building work doesn’t impact on the local environment too much, and is in keeping with the rest of the neighbourhood.
Members of the general public can view planning applications on local council websites, and if they are concerned, view plans when they are made public. So, if you are a concerned neighbour you can make your comments, complaints, and/or objections known to the planning officials.
Planning Applications can be complicated, so make sure you’re well informed before carrying out any work.