What is planning permission?

Planning permission in the United Kingdom refers to the permission required in the United Kingdom and Ireland in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings.

A number of different types of planning permission can be applied for:

  • Full planning permission: Grants permission for all aspects of the proposed development, although it would generally be subject to various planning conditions.
  • Outline planning permission: Establishes whether the scale and nature of a proposed development would be acceptable to the local planning authority. It might be appropriate when an applicant is seeking an agreement “in principle” to a proposed development, without being committed to a particular form of design or layout.
  • Reserved Matters approval: Seeking permission for those aspects that were not dealt with in an outline planning permission, or seeking approval of aspects of a development which were reserved by a planning condition in an earlier grant of full planning permission.
  • Hybrid: a LPA may accept a ‘hybrid’ application; that is, one that seeks outline planning permission for one part and full planning permission for another part of the same site.

Once a permission has been granted, the following additional applications may be made:

  • Renewal of planning permission: This would arise when an earlier outline or full planning permission was subject to a time-limiting condition which has since expired. In essence this requires the entire planning application to be reviewed in light of current rather than previous planning policies. Applications for renewal of an earlier planning permission are usually granted anew, unless there has been a significant change in the relevant material considerations which are to be weighed in the decision.
  • Removal or alteration of a planning condition: As a matter of law, conditions should only be imposed on a grant of planning permission when compliance with that condition is essential to make an unacceptable development acceptable – so it would be refused planning permission were it not for that condition. If the applicant or developer wished to proceed with a development without compliance with a condition, or perhaps with the condition in an alternative form, then an application can be made to “vary” the condition concerned – possibly by deleting it or offering an alternative form of words. Note that the LPA cannot alter any planning condition which imposes a time limit when the development is to be commenced. That would require a re-application for full or outline planning permission, but since October 2009 it has been possible to apply to extend an existing consent.

The fee for each part would have to be calculated separately on the appropriate basis, subject to any relevant maximum, and the total – which would not be subject to any maximum – would then be chargeable. An authority may also, following discussion, allow an application to be separated into core elements so that permission for site preparation works, say, can be given priority. Whether to accept a proposal in hybrid form is at the discretion of the LPA, not something on which an applicant may insist. One should bear in mind that a LPA is empowered to require details even when the application is in outline, if necessary in the interest of good planning. The term ‘hybrid application’ is not defined in statute.

When you need it

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building, eg building an extension
  • change the use of your building.

If a project needs planning permission and the work is done without getting it, an ‘enforcement notice’ can be served ordering the client to undo all the changes that have been made at his own cost.

When you don’t need it

Some building projects don’t need planning permission. This is known as ‘permitted development rights’.

Building projects that normally have permitted development rights include:

  • industrial premises and warehouses – though there are some limits and conditions
  • some outdoor signs and advertisements – though there are special rules around these
  • demolition – but before you begin you must get approval to demolish from your Local Planning Authority

There are other projects that might not need planning permission, eg projects that will have no impact on a neighbour or the environment.

Related Posts