When Do I Need Planning Permission?

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

Sometimes it can be hard to work out when you need planning permission. Writing planning applications in Exeter and across the South West can be cumbersome and difficult. We have written this article to give you the exact information you need to know and whether you ought to apply.

What is Development?

a laptop and rolls of design documents for development work

In common English, any work on your property is a kind of development. However, in the eyes of the law, ‘development’ is defined according to the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Planning permission is only needed if the work meets the definition of a ‘development’ takes place.

Development can include many things, but essentially is any substantial external or structural alterations – things like demolition, building extra rooms, or felling lots of trees around your house. Anything normally done by a builder would also probably be a development. Finally, any changes to the building’s purpose, whether that is subdividing the property to use it as two or more buildings or converting a house to a hotel, all require planning permission.

For example, a recent Exeter planning application involved changing the Toys R Us store on its high street to remove the existing glazed lobby, add new doorways and new signage, and block up an existing service bay for the building. This classifies as substantial external alterations, and so required planning permission.

If the internal alterations are dramatic enough, you might also need to submit a planning application. For example, a recent Exeter planning application involved stripping out a current high street retail outlet (the recently-closed Jones Bootmakers) to be prepared for its new owners’ shop, Typo. This falls under a substantial alteration, as the redecoration would mean changing the signage which passers-by see, and changing the nature of the high street. Permission is needed more often when you are dealing with commercial properties or places of special interest to the community or council: because the retail outlet was in the middle of the high street, it was sensible to receive permission before any dramatic alterations.


Does My Development Need Planning Permission?

two men and a woman working on a design.Most, but not all, developments need planning permission. In some cases, development is permitted under national permitted development rights – you ought to apply for a certificate of lawful development to get formal confirmation, or speak to an expert for more information. A Neighbourhood Development Order or Community Right to Build Order might also be in place, which grants planning permission to specific developments in specific areas automatically to save time and money.

Not all development needs the same sort of planning permissions. You might want a local authority or national grant to carry out certain work without a planning application. You can also receive planning permission through a Local or Neighbourhood Development Order.

However, even if planning permission is not needed, you might have other obligations, such as advertisement consent or environmental concerns. The developer ultimately has responsibility to make sure these permissions are obtained, so if you are planning a development either hire an professional or triple check you have permission. Local authorities can provide pre-application advice as well, but note that many charge.


Do I Need Planning Permission for my Home as my Place of Work?

a hand touching room building designs through a screenUnder the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987, buildings are grouped into different classes of use – shops, businesses, hotels, and so on. If you are converting your home to a place of work, the key question is whether your overall use of the building is going to change.

  1. Are you going to be still using your home primarily as your home?
  2. Will your business mean a substantially larger number of people coming by?
  3. Will your business cause more traffic on your street?
  4. Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours?
  5. Will your business create noise or smells?

For example: suppose you have decided to start business as a takeaway from your home. You might not even make any changes to your property, so you might think you do not need planning permission. However, because your property will cause more traffic, particularly at unsociable hours, and create noise and smell, you will need to send in an application before going ahead.

Special Circumstances about Planning Permission

Converted barn in the middle of a field with trees and grassOne exception to all of this is parking spaces. The government in the last few years has developed a view that parking spaces should be rentable without planning permission, all things being equal, to take pressure away from on-street parking, and have different needs.

Many farm-related developments have their own permitted development rights under the Town and Country Planning Order 2015. For example, farm shops are part of ‘farm diversification’ schemes, polytunnels and on-farm reservoirs have specific requirements to support sustainability. Farm tracks also have specific requirements in place. Barn conversions have additional planning permission requirements. As long as you stick to certain types and sizes of developments, full planning permission can be avoided on most farmsteads.

There are a fair few other special circumstances about planning permission that might apply to you. We have dealt with Exeter planning applications and secured planning permission all over the South West, and are happy to provide telephone advice on your needs. Get in touch, and we will respond as soon as possible.

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