If you're a new homeowner looking for information on what your options are, or if you've never had to apply for planning permission before, getting to grips with how it all works can be daunting. There's a wealth of information out there on the internet and at your local library, but as many of the rules and regulations have been adapted since planning permission became law, a lot of the facts are out of date.
Where you live in the UK, the age of your home, and what you want to do to it are all major factors in whether you'll need to apply. They will also play a crucial role in decision regarding whether or not you'll be successful. Only by understanding as much as you can about planning permission as it applies to you and your property can you avoid a potentially lengthy and costly process.
• You want to build something new on your land (like a freestanding garage or outbuilding with foundations);
• You want to make a major change to your property (such as an extension);
• You want to change the use of your building (i.e. from a residential property to a business premises or vice versa).
Of course, many smaller rules exist within these, so planning permission may not always apply.
Whether or not you'll need to apply depends on the type of work you want to do, as well as the impact of these works on your neighbours and the surrounding environment. Depending on the severity of the works, you may need additional certificates and approvals to continue.
If you are planning on making major changes to your property so that it benefits the local community, then you may be able to make these changes without having to apply for permission, even if they are deemed major changes. You must, however, have the support of your local community via Neighbourhood Planning or Community Right to Build schemes.
If your property is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a conservation area, a national park, or if your property is listed, you will likely have restrictions on what you can do, and the manner in which you can do it — if at all. Listed properties will likely be bound under a like-for-like rule, which means you can only replace features and fixtures in the same way they existed before. Having your home situated in a protected area may mean that you are restricted on the size, look and colour of your improvements, and you may even need planning permission to complete a job you thought was an automatic pass.
If you live in an old home, or if you live in a protected area, it's imperative that you check with your local planning authority to see what your restrictions are before you begin the work. If you are found to have made changes to your property without the relevant planning permission, then you may be subject to a substantial fine, as well as being ordered to take down what you've have built.
What don’t I need planning permission for?
You may be surprised at what you don't need planning permission for these days. The rules on conservatories has been relaxed, so that it's easier than ever to get the look and feel of a genuine house extension without the hassle or the cost. You can even have a solid roof on your conservatory now, something which was expressly forbidden without planning permission in the past.
You do not need planning permission to change and replace your windows or external doors, including your garage door, but please do check for any rules and guidelines set out for the area in which you live.
You should check whether your home has what's called 'permitted development rights'. This means that you can make modifications and changes without the need for planning permission, and this would have been agreed with the local authority when the property was built. Your local planning office (usually part of your local council) will be able to help with any questions or queries specific to your region and the work you intend to undertake. It's always advisable to get in touch with them first, before making any plans, and even if you think you won't need permission. As the rules are different depending on so many factors, double checking and avoiding a waste of your time and money is certainly worth it.
Who to contact
For general planning permission applications and queries, please see Planning Portal England (which covers the East Midlands, East of England, South East, South West, Yorkshire & Humber etc.), Planning Scotland, Planning Wales, and Planning Northern Ireland. For projects which may need more specialised information, please see planning advice from Historic England. If you're not sure which area you fit into, try asking at your local council one stop shop or searching the internet for 'planning office' and your postcode.
Guest Post by Coral Pearce-Mariner, of leading garage door supplier Evander