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Do you need planning permission?

Before you start any building work, you must check if you need planning permission. If you fail to do this, you may break the law. Find out how to apply for planning permission and what other permissions - for example, relating to party walls - you might need before work begins.

Find out if you need planning permission

Use the interactive house on the Planning Portal, the government's planning and building resource, to find out if you need planning permission for your building work. There is also information about building regulations you might have to follow.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission means asking your local planning authority if you can do a certain piece of building work. It will be granted (possibly subject to certain conditions) or refused.

You normally apply for planning permission to your local planning authority.

There are many smaller developments for private houses that don’t need planning permission. These are called ‘permitted developments’. These developments still have to follow certain building rules. For peace of mind you can apply to your local planning authority, for a document known as a Lawful Development Certificate, confirming that your building work is a permitted development.

How to apply for planning permission

You need to go through certain steps to get planning permission:

  • check if you need permission for your development
  • if you don’t need permission, you can go ahead with your development, if you need permission, you should apply through the Planning Portal (see link 'Apply for planning permission')
  • the Planning Portal sends your application to the local planning authority at your council
  • your local planning authority decides if your development can go ahead
  • your local planning authority will contact you with their decision
  • if you don’t agree with the council’s decision, you can appeal against it (see link 'Make a planning appeal')

What is building regulations approval?

Most building work has to meet building regulations to make sure it’s safe.

Always check with your local authority building control team or a private sector Approved Inspector (AI) whether you need building regulations approval.

Where to get building regulations approval

To help you meet building regulations you can use one of two types of building control service:

  • the building control service at your local council
  • an approved private building inspector

You can get a list of approved inspectors from the Construction Industry Council (CIC).

If you're only installing certain types of services or fittings (for example, replacement windows) and you employ an installer registered with a relevant Competent Person Scheme the installer will be able to self-certify the work. This means you won't have to involve a building control service. 

Other permissions you may need before you start work

Even if you get planning permission for your proposal and it complies with building regulations, there are other permissions you might need to consider.

Party walls

A wall is a 'party wall' if it's shared between two (or more) properties.

You must find out if building work falls within the Party Wall Act 1996 if it involves:

  • work on an existing wall or structure shared with another property
  • building a freestanding wall up to or shared with a neighbouring property's boundary
  • excavating near a neighbouring building

If it does, you must notify all 'adjoining owners' before you start.

The adjoining owner may be:

  • a freehold owner
  • a leasehold owner
  • a long term tenant

Where there is more than one owner of the property, or more than one adjoining property, you must notify all adjoining owners.

You can download 'Party Wall Act 1996: an explanatory booklet' to find out how the Act might affect you.

Covenants and private rights

Covenants or other restrictions may require you to get someone else's agreement before carrying out some kinds of work. Check your property's title deeds or lease before you start work.

Listed buildings

You will need to apply for listed building consent if:

  • you want to demolish a listed building (check with your local planning authority about other procedures that must be followed)
  • you want to alter or extend a listed building in a way that affects its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest

You may also need listed building consent for any works to separate buildings within the grounds of a listed building.

You can check whether or not a building is listed on the National Heritage database.

Conservation areas

Check with your local planning authority to see if your proposed work is in a conservation area before you begin any work.

Rights of way

If your proposed development would block a public path which crosses your property, you should discuss your proposals with the council at an early stage.

  • Source Direct Gov
  • Last Updated: 06 Jan 2012