It is not necessary to seek planning permission or building regulations approval for all improvements you plan to make to your home. The types of work you are allowed to undertake on your home which doesn’t require planning permission are defined by the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 as ‘permitted development’. Some work may only require ‘prior notification’ rather than full planning permission (explained more below).
Before starting to build on your property it is wise to ask your council’s planning service whether your project will need planning permission. You can either do this yourself or ask someone to do this on your behalf, like an architect or a building surveyor. At this stage, you should try to find out whether any statutory or non-statutory designations affect your property which may influence whether you need to seek planning permission. Examples include:
- Your property is subject to an Article 4 direction restricting permitted development rights in a certain area or site
- Your property is in a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or a conservation area
- Your property is registered as being of ‘special architectural or historic interest’.
Your local council may seek a fee for providing you with pre-application advice. They may also ask you to provide some cursory details of the extension you intend to build on your property such as its design, size and position. However, these do not need to be the extensive level necessary for sending with your planning applications.
The planning officer at the local council may give you his/her informal opinion on whether your proposal agrees with the council’s planning policies laid out in its development plan. The planning officer’s advice may cover issues such as the design of your proposal, the materials you plan to use and the scale of the development. The officer may also suggest how your proposal can be changed so that it is more likely to be approved. However, be aware that this does not guarantee that you will receive planning permission as interested parties and neighbours must be notified and consulted first.
For that reason, it is recommended that you discuss your ideas with your neighbours as they are likely to be informed of your planning application. Speaking early with the Planning Authority and your neighbours to discover any concerns may save you time and work later in the long run.
In some instances, a covenant on your land or building may resist its future use. Unfortunately, a covenant cannot be ignored or removed unless it is done by agreement, discharged by the Lands Tribunal or the land comes into single ownership. As covenants are separate legally to planning, gaining planning permission will not remove the covenant and you may still be unable to implement the planning permission until the covenant is removed.