Building Regulations & Planning Permission, are entirely separate Laws.
The Planning Act (Planning Permission) deals with permission to build.
The Building Act-(Building Control) the building regulations with how you build it.

ADS Ltd. produce drawings and design statements and other documents for planning applications, submit them and do our best to get your project approved. Some projects (normally new builds or larger extensions ) require specialist reports such as  Arboricultural or Flood Risk statements we would advise clients where these are necessary.

Some house extensions, loft conversions and some commercial conversions may be permitted development  and not need a planning application – see below

As there are many aspects to planning applications  we cannot always guarantee the outcome  but  be assured we want it granted. When planning is granted you can be assured that with us the scheme will be build able as we will already to some degree have looked at that aspect.

We have endeavoured to a give brief outline of the process below.

Planning in General

If everyone in the country could build, or use land for whatever they wanted, wherever they wanted, the country would be congested and without doubt a poorer place to live in. The planning system is generally designed to prevent this outcome so the principle of requiring it is a good one.

But as each successive government has changed requirements and relaxations, local authorities have also imposed their own requirements the system that has evolved over time has become complex.

The building of a new dwelling and extensive changes to existing buildings invariably requires planning permission. But there are numerous exceptions where it is permitted to carry out work lawfully without planning consent the most common being loft conversions or extensions to dwellings but even these are constrained  by size and position.

If your project involves the creation of a new dwelling (by either building from scratch, converting a building or subdividing an existing home), then planning permission is required.

Changes of the use of a building also requires permission e.g. from an office to a flat.

  • You can make a planning application on any piece of land in the country even if do not own it;
  • Your planning decision SHOULD take no longer than eight weeks from the register of a valid application;
  • Your neighbours and other local people and organisations have a right to object but those objections may not have any impact on the final decision;
  • You can withdraw an application at any time — so if you think you are going to get a refusal, you can withdraw it at any time up to the day itself, and resubmit free of charge;
  • You can submit an infinite number of planning applications on any one site;
  • Any planning permission granted is usually time limited;
  • Planners can impose all sorts of conditions on an approval – with new builds it is common to impose an infrastructure charge that must be agreed as part of the application and then  paid prior to starting work (this can be an onerous cost and should be considered at the outset by small developers);
  • Where builds are contentious and may be resisted it is sometimes best to apply for outline planning permission to agree the principle of  building on the site.

There are several types of application;

  • Outline
  • Full planning
  • Householder
  • Permitted development & Pre-notification applications

But what’s the Difference?

  • Outline planning permission grants, in principle, subject to certain design conditions based on size and shape. You cannot commence work with just outline planning permission, a grant of full planning permission is required. If a property comes with outline permission, you will need to examine the approval document and a further application for full approval will be required. Unfortunately even outline planning  applications normally require certain amount of information to be submitted with the application such as heritage reports, flood risk reports and drainage proposals etc.
  • Full applications deals with all matters. New developments, new builds, changes of use etc. will always require full planning. The application will require design statements to show the proposal complies with planning policies both national and local, full drawings to scale, and reports on all manner of matters, tree surveys, soil reports, contamination reports, bat surveys etc. depending on size of the development, the location and local requirements.
  • Householder applications are only used for extensions or alterations to existing dwellings. They can be quite simple but still have to comply with  planning policies both national and local, they will still require full drawings to scale and local policies may require reports on all manner of matters, tree surveys, soil reports, contamination reports, bat surveys etc.
  • Permitted Development & Pre-notification Applications Extensions or  converting a loft to your home, even outbuildings can be lawful and do not require planning permission. That is because the dwelling has permitted development rights but those rights are bounded by certain rules and parameters. Such as a three metre single storey extension on a semi detached or terraced property, its four meters for a detached property but in both cases the measurement is from the back of the original wall of the building you can not have a extension on a extension as permitted development, you can have single storey extensions to the side equal to half the width of the original building, you can convert your attic space and form dormers but the restrictions there are the volume of the new extensions of the roof.

You can also as permitted development have rear two storey extensions but they are severely restricted particularly when they are close to the boundaries, we can provide further advice on this aspect.

We can advise on those parameters or you can find that information on the planning portal. A great deal can be done to a dwelling using those rights but care must be taken that the rules and parameters which make it lawful are not broken. Planners seem to take great pleasure in refusing certificate applications for even very small infringements. Where it is lawful the planners nor your neighbours cannot prevent your proposal. But even if lawful, we advise you to apply for a certificate to confirm it, this is because it may be queried should you want to sell the property later. Conveyancing solicitors can query if it is lawful and delay the sale until proven. 

There is a method of larger rear extensions gaining permitted development status. This is by having your adjoining neighbours agree to the larger single storey rear extension.   Up to 6m for terraced and semi detached properties and 8m for detached properties. If they have no objections after being notified by planners  then the extension becomes a permitted development. Even if the neighbours object, the planners do have the right to consider the objection as unreasonable, and allow permitted development status. But you must get agreement before you start the work.  As before we advise you to apply for a certificate.

There are no permitted development rights in certain designated areas such as Areas of Natural Beauty, the Broads and Conservation Areas have different rules. Listed buildings also have no permitted development rights.

Flats do not have permitted development rights

There are  permitted development rights to change from some commercial or agricultural uses to flats or dwellings. But dwellings formed using those rights  do not have further permitted development rights.

Some buildings particularly new builds have had the permitted rights taken away, This is to limit further development of congested new estates.


  • The cost of submitting a planning application will depend on the nature of your proposed development. For a new build development it is based on the number of dwellings. Householder applications are generally fixed fees. There may be an infrastructure charge applied to the proposal even large extensions (over 100m2) can attract those additional charges.
  • Pre-application advice from the planners also attracts fees and sometimes they are more than an application. That advice normally comes with a caveat that it just the officers opinion – sometimes it is best to just apply so you at least you know exactly the problems with your proposal –  and you get a free application to deal with those matters.
  • If there are planning conditions on an approval, further fees are due to have those conditions discharged which must be met before development begins.

What is a Design and Access Statement?

Statements are prepared and accompany all larger applications. Design statements are used to justify the proposal’s design concept and in addition the access statement ensures the proposal is accessible to disabled or infirm (or why it cannot be). The level of detail depends on the scale of the project and its sensitivity.

Most authorities will have guidance notes available to help you but they vary. Generally you must included one in your submission or planners can refuse to register your planning application. This is also true of flood risk reports and lately the related sustainability and heritage reports. The local planning requirements must be checked each time.

Planning conditions

Sometimes the planners will grant permission subject to certain criteria than need to be met or agreed to within a certain time frame. These conditions are extremely important. Failure to comply can result in what is called a breach of condition notice, to which there is no right of appeal — not to mention it could be enforced through the courts by prosecution.

Conditions might be as simple as requiring that materials must match existing ones, or that all boundary treatments must be agreed.

More onerous is that infrastructure charges must be paid over before commencing work. Or that work must be completed within a certain time period.

But conditions must be achievable and have good reason for being imposed otherwise they would be illegal.

How are applications decided?

The local authority will base its decision on what are known as ‘material considerations’, which can include but are not limited to:

  • national & local published policies;
  • design;
  • appearance and materials;
  • layout and density of the building or inside the building;
  • overlooking/loss of privacy;
  • loss or lack of amenity space;
  • loss or lack of parking;
  • access;
  • loss of light or overshadowing neighbours;
  • safety considerations;
  • additional traffic;
  • noise;
  • impact on area;
  • listed building and conservation areas;
  • environmental aspects;
  • tree loss;
  • planting;
  • precedents (either previous or setting them).

So just about anything really.

If there are objections or the application is called into a committee by one of the local councillors, then the decision will be made by a majority vote by the local planning committee. At the planning meeting, you or your agent will be given an opportunity to address the planning committee, but this time is limited to a maximum of three minutes.

Green Belt Developments

It is harder to get planning permission if you are building a home in the countryside. However it not impossible. The latest National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) it is possible to build in green belt land, if your project can be shown to be sustainable but the tests to prove that are not easy.

How long does it take to get Planning Permission?

Once your application is registered as valid i.e. all of the information it required has been received together with the fee. Planners are supposed to determine full planning applications within 12 weeks. The majority of applications are determined within this time frame.

A notice has to be posted outside the address and neighbours informed and invited to view the plans and comment. This public consultation process takes three to eight weeks. The authority will make statutory consultations to the local highways department, and where necessary the Environment Agency as well as others.

If a Planning Application is refused?

If your application is refused, you can either amend and resubmit having dealt with the reasons for refusal, (within a year it is a free application if similar to the original) or you can make an appeal to the planning inspectorate. Around 40% of appeals are approved. There is no application cost for an appeal but the process can be lengthy.

How long does Planning Permission last?

Planning permission is typically granted for three years — meaning you must begin work in that time or face reapplying. Once started it is invariably valid forever, but there are instances where a condition is imposed giving a date to be finished.

Can I alter my Plans after permission has been Granted?

You can make minor alterations by applying for a non-material amendment. However, major alterations could involve a further application for full planning permission, so it is important to get it right first time.

What happens if I carry out works without Approval?

It would not be lawful and the local planning authority can take action to have the work altered or demolished. You can make a retrospective planning application and if this is refused you can appeal the decision. If you lose, it can prove very costly.

However, if no enforcement action is taken within four years of completion, (and provided that the work was not hidden) the development becomes immune from enforcement action (10 years for a change of use). The development then becomes lawful.

Altering a listed building without prior permission is not just unlawful  it is a criminal offence, it can lead to prosecution and unlimited fines and even imprisonment.

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