The Planning Process:

Does my extension or loft conversion require planning permission?

There are many instances where planning permission is not required prior to your carrying out extension works or loft conversions.

Permissible developement

Permissible development is a term that is used to describe a development which complies with certain rules in relation to its size, materials and positioning.

All of these details can be found by making use of the following link.

Should your property have permissible development rights, (This can be checked by a simply phone call to the planning authority in control of your location, they will tell you immediately whether or not this is the case), then so long as the design of the proposal complies with the rules, no planning permission is necessary.

There are differing rules for terraced and semi detached house from detached houses. There is also a state that allows for larger extension, however neighbouring property owners need to be consulted and as long as there is no “VALID” objection then the works can proceed.

Once you have ascertained that you have permissible development rights still in place on your property, and that the proposed design, in terms of size, materials and positioning are all correct you can start to build. It is here that a word of caution is necessary.

In our opinion we would always suggest that a certificate of lawfulness is gained prior to the undertaking of the work. This is a certificate issued by the planning authority which in essence says what you proposed to do is within the permissible development rights you have on your property. Why is this important? In reality when you come to sell your property, estate agents or solicitors will often ask for this documentation to “put their minds at rest” that what you have build is not illegal, that no planning permission was required at the time of building.

Please note, certificates of lawfulness are not a legal requirement. Permissible development rights were introduced to make planning permission simpler and to relieve the planning office of this work load. Whether or not that has happened is debatable.

What if Planning is required?

We’ll undertake all this for you. After having met and discussed your requirements, we will then put these on a drawing to ensure that we have interpreted your requirements correctly. If there are any adjustments to be made we will alter the drawings until we have come to the best possible solution.

Once this has been done, we will then make an application to the local planning authority for planning permission. The time it takes to gain planning permission will is normally in the region of eight weeks from submission and verification from the the LPA. (Local Planning Authority).

Building control.

If planning permission is granted then we will decide whether or not you would like to undertake full plans approval from the local building control department of the local authority, or undertake the work on a building notice. What is the difference?

Full Plans application is where a full specification of the works is submitted to the local building control authority and the authority pass the specification on the grounds that if built to this specification the building will comply with current building regulations. This route will involve additional plans to be produced showing construction details and specifications.

A building notice is a literally a notice to the building control department that the works is about to start. The builder will notify the LBA (Local Building Authority) of the stages of the work as they proceed, and the LBA control officer will verify that the work meets current regulations. This is an open ended agreement that the work is done in accordance with the regulations.

What are the advantages of choosing one over the other?

Additional costs are involved with the full plans options in that additional drawing works and writing of specifications. The application will add time to the process too, as the authority must go through the application and ensure that everything meets the current requirements. However once the approval is gained there is no ambiguity to the process. As long as the construction is undertaken to the agreed specification and drawings, everything will comply.

With the building notice option, the construction is inspected in just the same way as the full plans option, however should the building regulations change at any point prior to that section of the works having been undertaken, the LBA will require that you comply with the recently updated regulations. The advantage of his route is that there is no delay in undertaking the work, it is the building contractors responsibility to ensure that building regulations are complied with. Ultimately this route is for experienced contractors, who understand the building regulation requirements and are up to speed with the current regulations. Furthermore there is no additional work required after the planning drawings have been submitted.

It must be remembered that although the building regulations have, in the past not changed too much from year to year, this might not be the case in coming years. Especially so, of the performance of houses with regards to energy consumption and insulation, as is related in the recent part L amendment to the approved document, “Conservation of fuel and power”. Should regulations change during the course of build, the client could end up with additional costs in trying to comply with any updates / improvements made to the building regulations. (This does not happen with Full Plans. Once agreed, you can build to this specification, even if, subsequently, the building regulations change.) Generally there is a transition period between the implementation of the changes, so often there is not a problem.