Planning to alter your property? You’ve got to do it by the book or you could fall foul of the law. The planning system is administered by the local council and operates within a framework set by central government. It can be a bit daunting but get your head round it and that dream extension could be well on the way to being built.
Room to grow There are all sorts of additions and alterations that can be made to a property, some of which will require planning permission. Consult your local council's planning department before you start to establish whether you need permission for your particular project. You local authority will be able to give you advice, but, for a fee, you can apply for a 'lawful development certificate' by writing to the council with details of work you wish to carry out. Consult your architect or builder before submitting plans, because they will have a good idea whether the ideas are acceptable or not. Getting planning permission approval is a separate matter from building regulations approval.
Please may I? New planning laws cover a wide range of building projects, from extensions to loft conversions, outbuildings to solar panels. This regulation allows homeowners to bypass planning permission costing up to £1,000 for extensions up to three metres from the original property and for loft conversions of less than 50 cubic metres. For a list of common projects and the planning guidelines that apply, visit the Central Government website for planning and Building Regulations information in England and Wales, The Planning Portal. For more information about changing a listed building see Living with Listed Buildings. Remember, if in doubt, consult your local office.
The process Once the council has received your plans, it will notify neighbours and place the plans on the Planning Register for any member of the public to view. A committee made up of councillors will either make a decision or appoint a senior planning officer to make one for them. It can take up to eight weeks before a decision is made. If planning permission is granted, you normally have five years in which to carry out the planned works. If permission is denied, you can amend your plans to comply with the council's requirements and re-apply. You do not have to pay a further fee if your amended plans are submitted within 12 months. You can appeal within three months of the council's decision.