Planning Permission: What You Need To Know Before You Build

Extending a property or building a new one is a fantastic financial investment. Though the work is hard and can be expensive, the returns can be huge. Planning your new build or extension is just the first of many phases, but it can be tricky. Getting planning permission is one of the most important early steps forward you can take on a build. Start on the right foot by finding out more about the different requirements of planning permission and the different assessments you may have to make before it is granted.

Assess Your Local Ecology

The more you know about your local environment and its ecology, the more likely you will get your building work approved quickly. Environmental assessments are a standard part of the planning process, and your local authority may require them as part of your application. There are many different ecological concerns that your plan needs to address, including its impact on any endangered species.

Get some professional help to make a complete assessment of your site and the surrounding area. You may need to complete a bat survey to ensure that the habitats of this protected species are not affected by your building work. 24Housing conducts thousands of bat surveys every year, and their experts can give you a full report on the bat roosts in your area. They will also be able to help you plan what you can do to protect them throughout your building phase, and after the work is completed.

There are other ecological assessments that you may have to make depending on the area you live in. You should check the requirements of your local council. Even if you live in an urban area, building work can affect the habitats, feeding grounds, and flight paths of many different wild species.

Size Matters

The bigger your planned build is, the more likely you will need planning permission from your local authority. Large extensions and new buildings will usually require you to submit plans to your council and allow other stakeholders to air any concerns or grievances they may have. Your neighbours and local businesses are stakeholders in your area. If your build affects their access to sunlight, or building works could disrupt their business, your plans may need to be altered to take their issues into account.

New buildings require more planning and inspections than an extension of an existing property. Some conversions of existing buildings, such as a barn, or to a home, such as a loft conversion, may also need planning permission. It is important to work with an experienced architect when you make your building plans, they will have knowledge of local regulations and an understanding of the planning application process.

If you build without permission, you may have to tear down any completed work or struggle to mortgage your property. Retrospective planning permission can be applied for if you have begun the building process, but if permission is not granted, you will have to demolish the work you have done.

Listed Buildings

Britain is blessed with many houses that have been around for decades, sometimes centuries. The history of the nation is expressed in its architecture, and altering a listed building affects us all. Many old buildings have a listed status, and some can be of historical and cultural significance. This makes adding extensions, large-scale alterations, or demolishing them controversial.

You may be limited in what you can do to a listed building, even if it has some structural problems that need to be attended to. This can make the planning application process take longer and be more expensive. Researching the property you are altering will help you make plans that are sympathetic to its history and existing design. It is not impossible to get permission to change a listed building, but the process will be a little more complicated compared to putting an extension on a home less than 50 years old, for example. Engage with a local and experienced architect to help you with your plans.

To make alterations to a listed building, or buildings within its grounds require Listed Building Consent. This is a little different from standard planning permission as if you make alterations to a listed building without written consent from your local authority, you violate criminal law. You could be prosecuted for a crime and be fined, and even face a custodial sentence for a particularly egregious case. If you live in a listed building or intend to buy one, and you are planning on making any structural changes, work with your local authority to ensure you stay on the right side of the law.

Living In A Designated Area

If you live in an area that is designated as a Conservation Area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or in a National Park, your building plans will come under extra scrutiny to make sure that any plans are sympathetic to the surrounding area. Even if you only plan on adding a small extension, your plans will have to take the local architecture and ecology into account and ensure the design fits in with the area.

Development rights in these areas are much more restricted, and you may struggle to get large building works permitted. Changing the look of your building, the views of the plot, and using modern materials on the site can all cause planning permission problems. If you live in one of these areas it is highly recommended that you engage with your local authority, your neighbours, and an experienced architect from the start. This lets you plan your changes within the regulations, as they will not bend to suit you.

Making large-scale home improvements, adding an extension, or building an entirely new structure can be a wonderful adventure and a great financial investment. You need to ensure you are starting on the right path, however. Make sure your plans are within the local building regulations and you get full planning permission before you begin the work. Remember that your local authority is there to help you and is not an obstacle in your way. Work with them to realise your dream.