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When do I need planning permission?

Permitted Development

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission these are called "permitted development rights".

The interactive guidance for householder's web page on the Planning Portal's website has been designed to help consumers to understand the new Permitted Development Rights, by explaining the new rules for each part of the house you click on. Planning Portal website also has guidance on planning and building regulations for a list of common development projects.

In exceptional cases, permitted development rights may have been withdrawn from a property. In these circumstances, a planning application may be necessary, although no fee will be payable. To find out if this is the case please contact Development Management.

New permitted development limits for dwellinghouse

From 30 May 2013 the limits for extending dwellinghouses will change. The changes are temporary and any extension started under this new right must be completed by 30 May 2016. The changes relate to adding a single storey extension to the rear of a dwellinghouse. During this period, if the property is outside of a conservation area or a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and it is not a listed building the following changes apply:

  • on detached houses, a single storey extension of up to 8 metres in length (measured from the original rear wall of the building) and less than 4 metres in height may be added subject to the prior approval of the Local Planning Authority.

  • on semi-detached or terraced houses, a single storey extension of up to 6 metres in length and less than 4 metres in height may be added subject to the prior approval of the Local Planning Authority.

It is important to note that the following requirements must also be met in order for a single storey extension to not require planning permission:

  • the property must not have had its permitted development rights removed by a condition on a previous planning permission
  • the extension cannot exceed 50% of the total area of ground around the house, within its boundary.
  • the extension must not be higher than the highest part of the existing house
    • the extensions eaves cannot be higher than the eaves of the existing house
    • Any eaves within 2 metres a boundary cannot be higher than 3 metres.
    • the materials used in any exterior work (other than in the case of a conservatory) must be of a similar appearance to those of the original house.

Important - information to be submitted before beginning any work

Before beginning the work that may benefit from the permitted development rights described above the developer must submit the following information to the Local Planning Authority:

  • A written description of the proposed extension that includes the following information:
    • how far the new extension would extend from the original rear wall of the dwellinghouse
    • the maximum height of the extension
    • the height of the eaves of the extension
  • A site plan showing the proposed extension added to the dwellinghouse
  • The addresses of any premises adjoining the site
  • The contact address of the developer (including an email address if electronic communication is acceptable to the developer)

When this information is received by the Local Planning Authority it will be checked to make sure that the proposal meets with all relevant permitted development restrictions and that the submission includes the above information. The developer will be advised if the submission is not in the correct form and/or the proposal would not benefit from permitted development allowances.

Application for prior approval of a proposed larger home extension form (PDF: 286Kb / 3 pages) is available to download from the Planning Portal's website.

What the Local Planning Authority will do

The Local Planning Authority will write to the owners or occupiers of any adjoining premises to advise them of the proposed development. This notification will include the information provided by the developer regarding the size of the extension. A copy of the notification is also sent to the developer. The persons notified have 21 days, from the date of the letter, to respond to the notification.

If no comments are received, the development may commence, following receipt of a written notice from the Local Planning Authority that prior approval of the proposed extension is not required, and that no planning permission is required.

If an objection is received within the consultation period, from the owner or occupier of any adjoining premises, the developer requires the prior approval of the Local Planning Authority. It is at this stage that the LPA has to consider the impact of the extension on the amenity of any adjoining premises. In order to consider the impact on amenity the Local Planning Authority can ask the developer for further information that is reasonably required to enable a proper consideration to take place.

The Local Planning Authority has a maximum of 21 days (following the 21 day neighbour consultation period) to consider the impact of the extension on amenity. During this period the Local Planning Authority can determine that:

  • Prior approval is granted for the proposed development
  • Prior approval is refused for the proposed development

If no response is received from the Local Planning Authority within the entire 42 day period, the developer may commence the extension as proposed in the notification provided that they meet all of the permitted development criteria and do not need planning permission.

Important additional information

If prior approval is refused by the Local Planning Authority the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate using the same arrangements provided for a refusal of planning permission.

The extension that is allowed under the process described above must be completed by 30 May 2016. The developer must notify the Local Planning Authority, in writing, of the completion of the development as soon as possible.

The process cannot be applied for retrospectively.

Preliminary enquiry form for House Extensions and Alterations

The householder preliminary enquiry form (PDF: 142Kb / 6 pages) should be completed and returned to Development Management to find out whether planning permission is required for a house extension or alteration.

There is a charge for processing householder preliminary enquiry forms. For this charge we will provide a written response based on the information provided advising of the requirement for planning permission and building regulations approval.

The householder preliminary enquiry form (PDF: 142Kb / 6 pages)should also be used to obtain Pre-application Planning Advice on extensions or alterations.

Please note that this is not a planning application form.

The Planning Portal website has further information and general advice on planning permission, as well as a plan and map creator, fee calculator, carbon calculator and volume calculator see useful tools on the Planning Portal website.

Also see a guide to residential extensions (PDF 227Kb / 18 pages).

Non-residential development

If your proposal is not in connection with a house extension or alteration, for example a business or commercial venture, we will require you to write to the Development Management with as much detail of the proposal as possible including a site location plan and sketch drawings to establish whether planning permission is required.

Farming and forestry development advice

For advice on farming and forestry see General Planning Guidance for Farmers' (PDF: 48Kb / 2 pages.

Change of Use

In addition to development, changes of use may require planning permission, for example a change of use from a shop to a dwelling or the other way round. For further details please contact development management.

Change of use - planning permission web page on the Planning Portal's website lists the various use classes and provides information on changes of use which require and don't require planning permission.

The laws governing whether or not planning permission is required are complex, therefore it is always advisable to consult us prior to undertaking development to check whether planning permission is needed. If you are at all unsure about whether you need to apply for planning permission please contact development management.

It is important to realise that it is not possible to tell you over the phone when planning permission is required or not.

If the work you propose to do requires planning permission please read advice before making an application.

Non-householder changes to Permitted Development (PD) Rights

A number of important changes come into effect on 30 May 2013 concerning non-householder permitted development.

Where you are required to go through a prior approval process this must be undertaken prior to any works - you cannot apply retrospectively. Once the correct information has been received by us we must consider if any of the impacts are potentially triggered. If so, then we must notify the relevant consultees giving them 21 days to comment. We must also put up a site notice for 21 days or serve a notice on any adjoining owner /occupier.

We can ask for more information about impact / risks assessment and any mitigation.

We must take into account any representations and the National Planning Policy Framework, but we can only take into account highways, flood risk areas and contamination issues.

Development cannot commence until:

  1. we give written notice prior approval is not required;
  2. we give written notice of our prior approval (or refusal); or
  3. the expiry of 56 days without such a decision being given

Development cannot take place other than:

  1. where prior approval is required, in accordance with the details approved
  2. where prior approval is not required or 56 days has expired, in accordance with the details provided in the application

Unless the local planning authority and the developer agree otherwise in writing, to a mutually agreed extension of time.

Below are the changes to Permitted Development for Changes of Use (where these are subject to the Prior Approval method above this will be stated):

School fences and walls adjacent to a highway

The new changes allow schools to build a higher boundary fence or wall adjacent to a highway - up to 2m, provided it does not create an obstruction which is likely to be a danger for highway users. If it does, it should be reduced in height to 1m.

This includes new free school premises, provided the relevant Minister has approved the school, and buildings being used for a temporary period as a school - see below.

Increased thresholds for 'B' use classes

The new changes allow increased permitted development thresholds for changes of use from B1 or B2 to B8, or from B2 or B8 to B1, from 235m² to 500m².

B1(a) Offices to C3 residential changes for use

The new changes allow buildings in B1(a) office use to be used for C3 residential purposes subject to a prior approval process. The procedure for applying for approval set out above. Through the prior approval process the Council can only consider the impacts against transport and highways, contamination and flooding issues.

The new permitted development rights are temporary in that no prior approvals can be implemented after 30 May 2016. The rights do not apply on land in certain areas including certain military sites, safety hazard areas, listed buildings or scheduled monuments and areas described as Article 1(6A) land.

Notification of a proposed change to use of dwellings form (PDF: 223kb / 3 pages)

Changes of use to state schools

The new changes allow B1, C1, C2, C2a and D1 uses to change use to a state school subject to a prior approval process (see above). The site must not form part of a military explosives or safety hazard area, or be a listed building or scheduled ancient monument. For the prior approval process the Council can only consider transport and highways, noise and contamination issues.

Prior approval of proposed change of use to state funded school form (PDF: 3 pages/ 223 kb)

Changes of use from agricultural buildings to a 'flexible use'

The new changes allow existing agricultural buildings to change use to a 'flexible use' falling within use class A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2 subject to notification (under 150m²), or subject to the prior approval of the Council (if between 150 and 500m²).

No more than 500m² (cumulatively) of floor space in the building can be converted to a new use and the site must not form part of a military explosives or safety hazard area, or be a listed building or scheduled ancient monument. The new 'flexible use' will then be classed as a sui generis use.

Any prior approval can only be considered against transport and highways, noise impacts, contamination and flooding. The procedure for applying for approval set out below.

Prior approval of proposed change of use of agricultural building to a flexible use within shops, financial and professional services, restaurant and cafes, business, storage or distribution, hotels, or assembly or leisure form (PDF: 223Kb / 3 pages)

Use as a state school for a single academic year

The new changes allow a temporary permitted development right allowing any building to change to a school for a single period of one academic year, provided the building has been approved for school use by the relevant Minister, the Secretary of State responsible for schools. It can only be used once for this purpose and must revert to its previous lawful use at the end of the academic year.

Flexible uses and changes within them

The new changes allow a new permitted development right for any building within use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2 to change to a flexible use falling within either use class A1, A2, A3 or B1 where the floor space is no more than 150m². Developers have to notify the Council of the initial change, plus any other change within the 2 year period. The new use may only be operated for up to 2 years, after which it reverts to its previous lawful use. During this period it can be used for other uses within the flexible use, but the initial 2 years does not extend each time a change occurs.

Temporary increased thresholds for industrial and warehouse use classes

The new changes increase Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter industrial and warehouse premises from the previous 25% of gross floor space or 100m² (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200 m². This new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30 May 2016. Developers must notify the Council of completion.

Telecom installations

The new changes allow the construction, installation or replacement of telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services that will not require prior approval in Conservation Areas for a 5 year period. Development must be completed before 30 May 2018.

Extensions permitted to temporary schools

The new changes mean that buildings which qualify for the right to change temporarily to school use are also given the benefit of existing permitted development rights which allow schools to carry out building works (including the erection, extension or alteration of buildings and the provision of hard surfaces) subject to various conditions and limitations. This will apply from the date the Council are notified by the relevant Minister that the site has been approved for school use.

Temporary increased thresholds for offices

The new change increases Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter office premises from 25% of gross floor space or 100m² (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200m². The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30 May 2016. The developer must notify the Council in writing when the development is complete.

Temporary increased thresholds for shops, catering, professional or financial services

The new change increases Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter a shop, catering, professional or financial services establishment from 25% of gross floor space or 100m² (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200m². The new permitted development right is temporary and will expire on 30 May 2016. The exclusion of development within 2m of the boundary of the curtilage is removed during the same period except in relation to premises which adjoin land or buildings in residential use. The developer must notify the Council in writing when the development is complete.

Contact Development Management

If you have any further queries about planning there is always a Duty Officer available during office hours: Monday to Friday - 10am to 1pm

You can contact the duty officer by phone on 01768 817817 or in person at Mansion House.

If you wish to contact a specific officer see development management contact information.

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