About Planning Permission

In England and Wales, there is a coordinated system to outline what can be built and where. 

Planning permission, which is separate from building regulations approval, will normally only apply for larger projects that include major external works or where neighbouring properties might be affected, for example, raising the height of a roof. 

Planning officers at your local authority will consider the location of the project, the siting, height and size of the building, and the percentage of the plot that you want to build on. Planning applications are often approved with conditions and you should get all relevant matters signed off by your local council before you start to build.

Obtaining planning permission will take at least eight weeks, plus however long it takes to get the plans ready for submission. So if you think you are going to need planning permission you should allow enough time so it doesn’t hold up your project. 

The Government has produced a guide to the UK planning system. Click here to view it.

You can find more information and apply for planning permission online using the Planning Portal

Permitted development and extensions

The Government has introduced a number of ‘permitted development rights’ in an attempt to boost housing supply and enable appropriate development to take place more quickly. This includes significantly greater freedom for homeowners to improve and extend their properties without the need to apply for full planning permission (but they will still be subject to appropriate engagement with neighbours).

The Government has produced useful guidance to help you understand how permitted development rules might apply to your circumstances. Click here for more details.

Further information on permitted development rights can also be obtained from the Planning Portal. The Planning Portal also hosts a number of useful interactive guides which householders can use to understand the types of development they can carry out without having to apply for planning permission. 

Visit https://interactive.planningportal.co.uk for more details.

Other important legislation 

Party Wall Act

You must tell your neighbours if you want to carry out any building work near or on your shared property boundary, or ‘party wall’, in England and Wales.

Party walls stand on the land of two or more owners and either:

  • form part of a building
  • don’t form part of a building, such as a garden wall (not wooden fences)
  • Walls on one owner’s land used by other owners (2 or more) to separate their buildings are also party walls.

You can also have a ‘party structure’. This could be a floor or other structure that separates buildings or parts of buildings with different owners, eg flats.

Party wall agreements are different from planning permission or building regulations approval.

The Act covers:

  • New building on or at the boundary of two properties
  • Work to an existing party wall or party structure
  • Excavation near to and below the foundation level of neighbouring buildings.

This may include:

  • Building a new wall on or at the boundary of two properties
  • Cutting into a party wall
  • Making a party wall taller, shorter or deeper
  • Removing chimney breasts from a party wall
  • Knocking down and rebuilding a party wall
  • Digging below the foundation level of a neighbouring property.

Further guidance on the Party Wall etc Act 1996 is available here

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.

Do I Need Planning Permission?

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.

Factors affecting planning permission

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
  • Design
  • Covenants
  • 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
How to make an application

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.

Planning Application - process

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.

How to apply
Step 1

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)

Step 2

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.

Step 3

The local authority will publise and consult.

Step 4

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.

How much Does a Planning Application Cost?

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.

Make an Online Application

The Planning Portal at http://www.planningportal.co.uk  provides an online application service.