Residential Planning Applications-Hertfordshire-Buckinghamshire-Bedfordshire

Do you need planning permission?

OIA Architects offer early planning advice based on current guidance and national and local/neighbourhood planning policy. Our experience with local planning legislation can assist in early consideration of your new home, home extension or loft conversion. Under permitted development rights there are a number of limits and conditions which must be met to ensure your extension or conversion meets with permitted development regulations.

Planning Permission

Your local planning authority (LPA), usually a department of the council, is responsible for deciding whether a proposed development should be allowed to go ahead. This is called planning permission.

Most new buildings, major alterations to existing buildings and significant changes to the use of a building or piece of land need this permission.

However, certain minor building works, known as permitted development, don’t need planning permission. This is because the effect of such developments on neighbours or the surrounding environment is likely to be small. For example, building a boundary wall below a certain height. Similarly, a change of land or building use is classed as permitted development if it’s within the same use class.

Other areas get special protection against certain developments. Reasons for special protection include:

  • Protect attractive landscape – e.g. national parks
  • Protect interesting plants and/or wildlife
  • Control the spread of towns and villages into open countryside – e.g. Green Belts
  • Protect monuments or buildings of historical or architectural interest.

Occasionally, large proposals or controversial applications of national significance are ‘called in’ to be decided by the First Secretary of State instead of the LPA.

Please note that Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work.

Permitted development rights

Some types of development may already be permitted nationally, and for these there is no need to apply for planning permission locally. Permitted development rights are, however, typically subject to conditions and limitations that control development impacts. These conditions and limitations must be met in bringing forward any development in order for it to be lawful. If development proposed does not meet with the conditions and limitations of permitted development, then it is necessary to apply to the local planning authority for planning permission.

The Government has recently introduced a number of new permitted development rights in order to boost housing supply and enable appropriate development to take place more quickly. This includes introducing in May 2013 significantly greater freedom for homeowners to improve and extend their properties without the need to apply for full planning permission (subject to appropriate engagement with neighbours). Further information on permitted development rights can be obtained from the Planning Guidance and from the Planning Portal. The Planning Portal also hosts an interactive house which householders can use to understand the types of development they can carry out without having to apply for planning permission.

In some areas of the country, known generally as ‘designated areas’, permitted development rights are more restricted. For example, if you live in:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site or
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads
  •  located within green belt
  • Listed buildings

You will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas. There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building.

Obtaining planning permission

A planning application is only required in certain circumstances. If a planning application is required, the local planning authority is generally responsible for making a decision on the proposal in the first instance.  Once the local planning authority has received a planning application it will publicise the proposal (using methods such as site notices and notifying neighbours and parish councils) so that people have a chance to express their views. The specific publicity requirements will depend on the type of application. The formal consultation period will normally last for 21 days. Anyone may comment on a planning application during this period and details of how to do so will be available from the local planning authority. Written comments will be taken into account when the local planning authority makes a decision on the application, so long as they raise considerations which are relevant to the proposal and ‘material’ to planning. Many issues are capable of being material considerations, but in broad terms should relate to the use and development of land.

As a general principle, the planning system works in the public interest and matters that affect solely private interests are not usually material considerations in planning decisions. However, each application is considered on its merits. A local planning authority usually has up to eight weeks to make a decision on minor applications, which include most householder cases and up to thirteen weeks for major development, such as large housing or business sites. Generally, once planning permission is granted, development must be started within three years. If work has not started by then, the applicant will probably need to reapply.

The National Planning Policy Framework places emphasis on the need for local planning authorities to approach decision-taking in a positive way to support the delivery of sustainable development. Local planning authorities should work with applicants to secure developments that improve the economic, social and environmental conditions of their area. The planning system is plan-led and any planning application must be determined in line with the development plan (Local and neighbourhood plans and, where relevant, the London Plan) unless other material considerations indicate otherwise. Local planning authorities can consider whether otherwise unacceptable development could be made acceptable through the use of conditions or a planning obligation attached to a planning decision.

Planning enforcement

Local planning authorities provide planning enforcement services which are a vital part of the planning process. By identifying and tackling cases of unauthorised development, the enforcement process ensures fairness, stops unacceptable development and gives communities confidence in the system.

The Localism Act 2011 gave new powers to local planning authorities by extending the time available to them to investigate cases where unauthorised development has been deliberately concealed.56. Although effective planning enforcement is fundamental to the integrity of the system, responses to breaches of planning control should always be proportionate. Where work has been undertaken without the necessary permission, there is scope to apply retrospectively for planning permission. These powers do not condone development being undertaken without the correct permissions, but they do enable local authorities to use their planning enforcement powers proportionately.