planning permission

Planning permission from the local authority is required before carrying out development.  This includes building construction, change of use and building extension.  Relatively minor alterations and extensions do not require approval if they are within laid down parameters termed 'Permitted Development'. 

Planning approval is separate from building regulations approval which should be the subject of a separate application, usually following receipt of planning consent.

Planning application constituents

1.    Drawings showing existing plans and elevations.
2.    Drawings showing the proposed plans and elevations.
3.    Site and block plans.
4.    Completed application forms.
5.    Statutory declarations relating to notices served on land owners.

In some cases an access, design and planning statement, site surveys and arboricultural reports may be required.

Permitted Development

Some building extensions may be constructed without planning permission (Permitted Development).

Such extensions are subject to restrictions including:-

1.    A maximum percentage increase in the volume of the building.  This percentage varies depending upon the type of house and        whether or not it is located in a conservation area.
2.    Past extensions and some outbuildings are included in the maximum increase calculations.
3.    Minimum distances from boundaries and highways.
4.    Limitations on dormer windows within roof slopes fronting highways.

It is important that the status as Permitted Development is ascertained before construction because:-

1.    The local authority may require an application for retrospective approval which is more costly to obtain after the event.
2.    The local authority may insist that the extension be demolished.
3.    The need for approval, revealed by a solicitorís search when you come to sell your home, may delay the sale or prevent it altogether.
4.    Retrospective building approval may take four to eight weeks to obtain.

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Certificate of Lawful Use

In order to safeguard against problems arising during the construction process and after completion of the works it is prudent to apply to the local authority for a 'Certificate of Lawful Use'.  This certifies that the proposed works are classified as Permitted Development and that no enforcement action will be taken.

The certificate is an important document and should be retained safely for presentation to a purchaserís solicitor should you wish to sell the property.

An application for a Certificate of Lawful Use should be accompanied by drawings showing the proposed extension and the calculations to show that it is within the parameters.

Listed Buildings

Buildings of architectural or historic importance are 'listed' to ensure that they are protected and conserved.  Listed Building Consent is necessary for, in some cases, even minor alterations and works of maintenance.  Applications are dealt with by the local authority Conservation Officer or English Heritage.

Conservation areas

Some areas where a number of buildings are of a type and character whereby the area warrants protection are designated 'Conservation Areas'.  Changes to the exterior of the properties are restricted and an application for Conservation Area Consent may be necessary.

Planning application appeals

The decision of a local authority to refuse an application or grant permission subject to conditions may be appealed to the planning inspectorate set up by central government.  An independent inspector is appointed to consider the appeal.

An alternative which is useful in some cases is to attempt to resolve any objection through negotiation with the council planning officer and make a revised application. 

Only the applicant can appeal against the councilís decision and the right does not extend to other parties.

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The appeal must be made on the planning inspectorate official forms which may be obtained from the planning inspectorate website.

The appeal must be lodged within six months of the date of the local authority decision notice.

Methods of appeal

There are three procedures:-

Written representation

This is the most common form of appeal.  The appellant makes a statement in support of his/her case on the forms provided by the inspectorate.  The planning authority also submits a written statement.  Both parties then have the opportunity of passing comment on the other's submission.  Neighbours and third parties who were originally consulted and anyone who made representations against the application are also given the opportunity to comment.

The inspector peruses the documents, inspects the site and makes any other further enquiries that may be relevant before making a decision in the appeal, communicating it to the local council and the appellant.

Public inquiry

A public inquiry follows procedures which are similar to court cases and tribunals.  The appellant submits a written case and presents that case at the hearing.  The planning authority representative presents the opposing case in a similar way.

Relevant witnesses may be called.  The appellant, witnesses and the planning authority representative may be examined and cross examined by the parties.  The parties may be represented by professional advisors.

Following the hearing the inspector, or inspectors, make a site visit before making a decision and communicating it in writing to the parties.

Informal hearings

Informal hearings are similar to  public inquiries but often take the form of general discussions rather than formal procedures, examination and cross examination.  This is a less formal process and some applicants prefer it because it allows them to present their case to the inspector in person without using professional planning and legal representation.

Appeal from the inspectorís decision is only available on a point of law and not on a planning matter.

Our planning appeals service

We offer a planning appeal service for clients making submissions and counter-submissions in written representation cases and representing clients at hearings of public enquiries. 

James Flynn Chartered Surveyors?

We are an independent firm of chartered surveyors and have been advising clients on all aspects of property value and condition since 1980 from our offices in London, Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex and Kent.  We mainly cover the London and South East region but travel further afield when this is requested.

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To contact us please select from the appropriate area link below:

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