Do I Need Planning Consent?


Matthew Griffiths

March 4th, 2022
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You don’t have to be an architect to see the potential in renovating a doer-upper, whether that’s to create a house that suits your desires and needs or with the aim of, as the Americans would say, ‘flipping’ it for a profit.

Perhaps your dreams are grander than a refurb or renovation and extend to building a new house from the ground up with that walk-in dressing room, cinema and wine cellar.

Either way, there are elements that you’ll need to understand before you start.

One will be the budget, how much will it cost to design and build, and will it be worthwhile by adding to the property value.

Expert consultants are most likely going to answer these questions for you. For example, a Quantity Surveyor can produce a cost plan, an architect will design your dream vision, and an engineer will ensure it won’t fall over in a light breeze (or a strong one).

The next obstacle before digging can start in earnest is gaining a planning ticket.

But what is a planning ticket, do you need one, and how do you get one?

The History of Planning

If there was no planning, how would homes get mains services? Would everyone have to run their own water, electricity, sewers from main connection points? What about roads? Would they be wide enough, maintained? So many questions.

The creation of the planning system has helped answer many of these potential issues many years ago.

As the industrial and agricultural revolutions took hold in the 18th century, people moved to towns and cities for work and better pay, resulting in the expansion of urban areas, much of it being unplanned.

Garden Cities such as Letchworth and Welwyn were conceived in the early 1900s, seeing the first large-scale urban planning. Planning acts were introduced, introducing minimum standards for housing and spacing between dwellings.

Whether called Town Planning, Housing and Town or Town and Country, Planning Acts have been tweaked and adapted over the past 120 years to address the latest needs within society.

By the middle of the century, urban sprawl remained an issue. This saw the introduction of The Town and Country Planning Act of 1947, followed by the introduction of Green Belts in 1955.

At the start of the nineties, Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and Planning and Compensation Act 1991 formed newly devised planning systems.

The earlier Act created Section 106. This is the legal agreement between the landowner and local authorities that sets out the local infrastructure improvements that will be implemented locally to accompany a new development, such as highway improvements, public art or funding to the local education authority.

Much of this holds firm to this day was born out of the National Planning Framework of 2012 and National Practice Policy Guidance of 2014.

What are the Types of Planning Permissions

Planning applications can be broken down further:

Outline planning applications

This type of application only applies to new build developments.

They are usually presented as rough plans or models for larger schemes. These will indicatively show the general proposal for access routes, the density of dwellings, location of schools, shops, areas of public open space.

This type of application allows the local planning authority to judge whether the scale and nature of the proposed development would be, in principle, acceptable before a detailed application is submitted.

If an Outline Planning application is successful, it will need to be followed by a Reserved Matters application.

Reserved Matters applications

Whilst outline, is just that, an overview of the proposals, Reserved Matters puts the meat on the bones.

If the Reserved Matters application follows on from an Outline Planning consent, then there is a three-year window for the Reserved Matters to be submitted.

The information submitted under this application is likely to add detail to:

1. The layout of the development and plots.
2.  Access arrangements – roads and footpaths into the site and around the development. How do these then link to the existing road network and transport infrastructure?
3. Scale will detail the size of the development and the size of the plots, including the overall roof heights.
4. The appearance of the development, house types, elevation etc. This will also include street scenes and vistas.
5. Landscaping – detailed planting of newly landscaped areas as well as maintenance or protection of existing ones.

A reserved matters permission is valid for a period of two years from when it was approved or three years from the approval of the Outline Planning Consent, whichever is the latter.

Full Planning applications

This is a detailed planning application for a development but excluding householder developments (see below).

The application is made in full, with all details included in the submission.

Examples of projects include structural alterations of existing buildings, demolition, rebuilding and other works undertaken by a builder.

A change of use can also be applied for using this application.

Householder Planning applications

To make alterations or enlarge an existing singular property, including works to garages, outbuildings, the boundary and garden. All works should be contained within the curtilage of the property.

Typical examples include:

1. Extensions
2. Conservatories
3. Loft conversions
4. Dormers windows
5.  Garages, carport and outbuildings
6. Swimming pools
7. Walls and fences
8. Vehicular access
9. Porches
10. Satellite dishes

Listed Building Consent applications

A listed building means that the exterior and interior of the building are protected.
Whether works are intended to alter, extend or demolish a listed building, this is the application required to gain approval before works commence, as it is a criminal offence to start works beforehand.

It is worth noting that any building or structure fixed to the listed building or a building within its land is considered part of the listed building and will need listed building approval.

You will find whether a building is listed on the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or of Historic Interest.

Advertisement Consent applications

It covers the requirement for consent to erect or display an advertisement or sign. This ranges from posters, notices, facia and projecting signs, flag poles, models, directional signs, town and village signs, traffic signs, to name a few.

Applications for Lawful Development Certificate

Should you discover that part of your property does not already have planning, perhaps during a property sale, or an enforcement notice has been served and is appealed, this is the application that should be made.

Prior Approval applications

This is the grant of planning consent without submitting a planning application.

Applications to vary or discharge matters reserved by planning conditions – (Section 73 or 73A)

Where more detailed information is required than has been submitted with a planning application, the planning authority can append conditions to its consent.

These will need to be submitted for approval and usually come with a trigger or deadline, such as within two years of commencement of the project or prior to any occupations.

A condition can also be varied. For example, an application can seek to amend the details approved, submitted or change the trigger.

Tree works applications (Tree Preservation Orders)

Where consent is required to carry out works on trees subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) or ones in a Preservation Area.

Should your tree overlap a neighbouring TPO tree, you will need to submit an application.

What is permitted development?

Permitted development is where planning consent has been granted without submitting a planning application.

It forms part of national legislation and is only permitted on specific aspects of home improvements and extensions.

What is allowed under permitted development?

Class A – home enlargements, improvements and alterations to the side and rear.

This allows you to build a rear or side extension that does not exceed 50% of the curtilage of your property, including the existing property and outbuildings.

Extensions can be full height as long as they are no higher than the existing house.

Front elevations must not be affected, including sides that fronts a highway, like a corner plot.

A single-story extension must not extend to more than 4 meters from the rear of the original house if detached, 3 meters otherwise.

Single-storey extensions are limited to 4m high.

Materials used must be in keeping with the existing materials used on the house.

Class B relates to roof additions or alterations, like loft extensions involving dormer windows that enlarge the house.

Any roof conversation must be no higher than the existing roof.

No dormer windows are allowed on the front elevation. However, roof lights can be if they fall within the criteria set.

There must be a minimum of 0.2m from the edge of the extension to the eaves of the roof.

Class C – alterations to roofs for re-roofing or installing roof lights/windows.

Class D – addition of a porch outside an external door.

Must be less than 3 square meters, less than 3 meters tall, and not within 2 meters of the curtilage boundary next to a road.

The 50% limit of all buildings within the curtilage still applies here.

Class E covers the provision of buildings and other development within the curtilage of the house.

Allows for the construction of single-storey buildings that are no higher than 4 meters tall with a duel-pitched roof, 3m with a single pitch, and within 2 meters of the curtilage.

Class F – hard surfaces within the curtilage of the house, such as driveways.

Class G – installation, alteration, or replacement of a chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe.

Class H – installation, alteration, or replacement of microwave antennas such as satellite dishes.


Planning acts guide the construction and redevelopment of residential and commercial projects. To ensure that there is sufficient infrastructure is in place or intended to be built. That the environment is carefully considered.

It is vital to know which planning applications are most suitable for your home or project or whether it falls within the permitted development rights.


About Matthew Griffiths

Matthew takes great pleasure in combining his two professions. One has seen him give two decades of service to the construction industry, from roles as an Estimator through to sitting on Boards. The second is his passion for the written word. He now has the best of both worlds, building homes and constructing written content.

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