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Planning


Image of a floor plan.

Planning is a complex system that has numerous exceptions and booby-traps for the unwary - you're going to need professional advice. Chartered surveyors understand planning law and the effect that any development will have on the future use and value of your property. They can act as your personal agent in all planning and business property matters. This guide provides an outline of the rules in England. Different regulations cover Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you own a listed building, or your premises are in a conservation area, different and stricter rules apply.

When do I need planning permission?
All forms of 'development' need some form or permission. The Town and Country Planning Act defines development as being: The carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any building or other land.' You must get permission for: Major extensions or large additional buildings within the property's boundary.  
Entirely new buildings - discuss your proposal informally with the local planning authority before submitting an application. They will be able to advise you whether or not planning permission is likely to be granted and how any difficulties with your proposal can be overcome.
There are exceptions to the general rule. You don't need permission for, for example: Internal alterations (though changes to listed buildings may need listed building consent)   Small external alterations, such as walls and fences below a certain height   Some minor extensions or additional buildings. (But the rules are complex - take professional advice)  
Certain changes of use. You or your chartered surveyor can check whether you'll need permission informally with the local planning authority. Alternatively, for a fee you can get a formal decision from the authority known as a 'lawful development certificate'.

Do I need permission to change the building's use?
Yes. Your local planning authority can advise you on whether or not you'll get permission when you buy or lease the premises. For something more formal, you can go through the lawful development certificate procedure. You don't need permission if the new use is in the same class as the existing use. And sometimes it's also possible to change the use between classes without needing permission.

Do I need permission to run my business from home?
Not if you're using just one room of your home as: A personal office, a doctor's or dentist's consulting room, for music or language teaching. But there are conditions. For example, the character of the house must remain as a private home and you must not disturb your neighbours. Check with the local planning authority to be on the safe side.

How does planning permission work?
There are two categories of planning permission: 'outline planning permission' and 'full planning permission'. If you need full planning permission you must send in all the details of the proposal, including detailed drawings, with the application. Although detailed plans may not be necessary in change of use cases.

When should I apply for outline permission?
Only for new buildings and where you want to find out if the proposal is acceptable, without providing detailed drawings of the scheme. When outline permission is granted, you need to get full approval before work can start.

Image of a site plan. Can I apply for planning permission?
You apply, with the appropriate forms and a fee, to your local planning authority. The fees are the same across England, but the amount depends on what you want to do. Anyone can make an application, regardless of who owns the land or buildings. However, if you are not the owner of the entire site, you must formally notify the legal owner and anyone else who has a legitimate interest. Where applications are complex ask your chartered surveyor to submit the application for you.

How long does it take to get a decision?
It should be eight weeks from the registration date, but in reality it usually takes longer. You are allowed to attend the planning committee meeting and certain local authorities also let you or your agents to speak to the committee. If your scheme needs Environmental Impact Assessment, the statutory limit is 16 weeks.

Conditions attached to planning permission
Once permission is granted your development must begin within five years of the date of permission. But sometimes permission is granted subject to certain conditions, such as: restricting the use of the premises, restricting the hours of operation of a business,  needing specific approval for the materials to be used before the development can go ahead. If you're not happy with the conditions, you or your agent can discuss the matter with the local authority to see if an alternative can be negotiated. You may have to submit another application. Or you can appeal.

Can I appeal if planning permission is refused?
Yes, but the decision document will clearly itemise the reasons why you've been refused. So talk to the planning officer to see whether, if you were to change your plans to overcome the objections, it would be worth making a further application. If you don't want to change the proposal or if it is clear that the local authority objects in principle to the scheme, then you can appeal (see below).

How does the appeals procedure work?
You may appeal to the Secretary of State for the Environment or the Secretary of State for Wales against the local authority's decision. You must make your appeal, within six months of the local authorities decision, to the Planning Inspectorate. If no decision is issued, make the appeal within six months of the end of the period when the decision should have been made. You can get appeal forms from the inspectorate's offices in Bristol. Appeals can be made in one of three ways. It depends how complex the case is. Speak to your chartered surveyor to find out which is right for your particular case. They can even make the appeal on your behalf.

Building without permission
If you carry out construction work or change the use of the premises without getting the planning permission, the local planning authority may simply ask you to apply retrospectively for permission. Local planning authorities look at each application on its merits, so don't assume you'll be granted permission just because the building is finished. It may issue an 'enforcement notice', setting out what you must do solve the problem - which in extreme cases could involve demolishing the building that you have built. You can, however, appeal to the Secretary of State against an enforcement notice. If you don't comply with a condition of a planning permission, the local authority may issue a 'breach of condition notice'. You have no right of appeal against such a notice.

See a list of Local Authorities  in The Marshalls area.

Link to an external website. The Planning Portal


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