Planning Permission: The First Steps

Many changes to your property on the outside – including innocuous things like satellite dishes and fences - may need planning permission.  These laws are complex, and ideally you should consult your council before making any changes to the exterior of your home.  The only really safe alternative is to consult an architect – but this can be very expensive.  Remember that everyone pays council tax, so if you can spare a few days, it might be worth getting in touch for your money’s worth!

Some works can be done without planning permission.  Under the Permitted Development Rights, which do not apply to flats and maisonettes, minor works which are under the jurisdiction of Parliament can be carried out immediately.  Be very careful to read the regulations because they are not straight forward and could leave you with a costly legal argument at the end of the day.

A few pieces of information to gather before getting in touch with the council include:

  • What kind of house/flat/etc you live in. (Flats usually need permission as they are, for the most part, leasehold only)
  • Who owns it.
  • Whereabouts your extension will be.
  • The size of the proposed extension.
  • Whether there have been previous additions to the building.
  • How close the extension would be to your neighbours.
  • Has your house been extended in the past?

If your changes require permission, there will be a lot of form-filling.  Most of this can be done online, but your office should be able to post you copies to sign if necessary.

Planning applications generally take a couple of months, and anything reasonable should be approved.  However, carrying out works and seeking permission later can carry serious consequences.  You may have to change building works after you have finished or be ordered to return the land to its previous state – involving legal proceedings and expenses.

Properties in listed buildings or conservation areas will need special permission, and once again the council are the people to go to for this advice.

For more information and to apply for planning permission, visit the government’s Planning Portal.

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