The government department for Communities and Local Government sets out national planning policy, but the responsibility rests with local planning authorities. Each local authority must produce a Local Plan which outlines how planning will be managed in your area.
Your local authority
Your local planning authority is responsible for the overall development framework, Local Plan enforcement and planning, often called Development Management. They also provide Building Control services. Any developments must be considered within the overall framework.
Most new buildings or major changes to existing buildings or to the local environment need consent - known as planning permission, from your local planning authority.
Planning permission is a separate requirement from obtaining building regulations approval and you may need one, both or neither permissions. Your local council will give you advice about your project. The building regulations are designed to ensure the building meets health and safety standards. For more information please go to our Building Regulations section.
It is your responsibility to make sure you have relevant planning permission in place. You must not start work before you have planning permission approved, if this is required.
Some examples where planning permission is required:
- Most new building developments - these all need Building Regulations approval
- Additions or extensions to a flat or maisonette (including those converted from houses). You do not need planning permission to carry out internal alterations or work which does not affect the external appearance of the building. These all need Building Regulations approval unless they are exempt porches or conservatories
- Dividing part of your house for use as a separate home (for example, a self-contained flat or bed-sit) or using a caravan in your garden as a home for someone else. You do not need planning permission to let one or two of your rooms to lodgers.
- Dividing off part of your home for business or commercial use (for example, a workshop) Building something which goes against the terms of the original planning permission for your house (for example, your house may have been built with a restriction to stop people putting up fences in front gardens because it is on an "open plan" estate). Your council has a record of all planning permissions in its area.
- Building something which goes against the terms of the original planning permission for your house - for example, your house may have been built with a restriction to stop people putting up fences in front gardens because it is on an "open plan" estate. Your council has a record of all planning permissions in its area.
- Any work that might obstruct the view of road users.
- Any work that would involve a new or wider access to a trunk or classified road.
Planning permission is not generally required for changes to the interior of buildings or for small alterations to the outside (for example, the installation of telephone connections and alarm boxes).
If in doubt, consult your local planning authority before you start any building or changes. If you go ahead with your development without the required permission, the local council that is the planning authority for your area may ask you to make a retrospective planning application and if not granted, may require you to put your development back to its original form.
Since there are several factors dependent on your Local Plan which will affect whether or not you need to apply for planning permission, you should consider the following before you start:
- Your neighbours
- Listed buildings
- Conservation areas
- Trees and hedgerows
- Nature and wildlife
- Building regulations
- Rights of way
- Adverts and signs
- Ancient monuments
- Environmental health
- Licensed sites
- Roads and highways
You need to make an application to your planning authority for planning permission. Planning applications are decided within the directives laid out by your local development plan unless there are very good reasons not to do so.
Points that will be looked at include the following:
- number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings;
- proposed means of access, landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood;
- availability of infrastructure, such as roads and water supply; and
- proposed use of the development.
You do not have to make the application yourself. If you wish, you can appoint an agent (for instance, an architect, a solicitor, or a builder) to make it for you.
Anyone can make an application, irrespective of who owns the land or buildings concerned. However, if you are not the owner, or if you have only part-ownership, you have to inform the owner or those who share ownership, including any leaseholder whose lease still has seven or more years to run, and any agricultural tenant.
Below is a brief outline of the process. For more information contact either your local authority or the Planning Portal. You can apply directly to your local authority or make an application online.
Contact the planning department of your local authority. (Pre-Planning - you may wish to take your plans and proposals for discussions to discuss what kind of application you would like to make)
Complete the application form and submit with fee and supporting documents to the planning authority. You will then receive an acknowledgement or be asked for further documents in support of your application.
The local authority will publise and consult.
The application is then considered by the Planning Committee.
There are 4 possible outcomes for your application:
1. Permission Refused
Action: Make a new application and start again or appeal
2. Application Undecided
Action: Appeal to the Secretary of State
3. Application granted subject to conditions
Action: Provide additional information before starting
4. Permission Granted
Action: Start construction and contact Building Control
For more information please contact the Planning Portal.
Click here for Interactive Guidance for Householders.
Fees vary according to the type and scale of the development.
Exemptions and reductions are available depending on the circumstances (for example, submission of a revised proposal within 12 months of the original application). You can find out more information on the Planning Portal's fee calculator to work out fees for different kinds of proposal or contact your local planning authority who will confirm the amount payable on submission of your application.
Reproduced with kind permission from the planning portal
Planning Portal is the government's online service that advises on various aspects of the planning process.
This is an informal guide only - for detailed information contact your local planning authority.