How to Avoid the Planning Police…Published on 6th November 2014
Planning permission. Utter those two words in home-building circles and you’ll hear heaved a collective sigh strong enough to blow away a small village in Shropshire. It’s the bane of many a life, and yet it does have its benefits; if you can’t build a twelve metre high viewing platform at the end of your garden, neither can your neighbours!
Avoiding the planning police is a simpler affair than you might think though; it’s just a case of reading the rules, and trying your best not to break them. In many cases, home builders won’t even need planning permission – for a simple extension, you may be covered under Permitted Development (PD) rights – but it’s always worth checking before you begin.
Permitted Development Rights Criteria
Generally speaking, single-storey home extensions, such as an Apropos conservatory, will be covered by PD rights, unless the property is listed, or in a conservation area. However, there are still restrictions. The building must…
- not exceed four metres in height
- not extend beyond the rear wall of the existing house by more than three metres if it is an attached house, or four metres for a detached home
- have a width of no more than half that of the original house, if you are planning a side extension
- adhere to current building regulations.
In some cases planning permission will always need to be sought though, in which case it pays to think ahead.
Planning Permission Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
The number one pratfall – and it really is a pratfall, as you’d have to be a bit of a prat to do it – is starting work before receiving council approval, or ploughing on regardless of an enforcement notice. It takes, on average, eight weeks for a decision to be made once a planning application has been submitted. It’s not that long to wait and not worth risking having your project destroyed if your application is later declined.
Secondly, it always pays to refresh your knowledge of local planning regulations, even if this isn’t your first project. The criteria can change and certain dwellings will come with their own particular legislation. Period properties are probably the most obvious examples of advanced restrictions, but did you know that flats, and homes situated in conservation areas, National Parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty have specific regulations to adhere to, too?
Regulations aside, it’s time to move on to common sense. If you want your build to progress smoothly:
- Don’t annoy your neighbours – if you can overcome opposition at a friendly, informal level, the council can have fewer objections.
- Don’t create a ‘sore thumb’ – if your design fits in with your neighbourhood look, the planning authorities will have less to worry about.
- Work with Building Control – Their role is to ensure that your new build meets all necessary safety regulations, it may not seem like it, but they’re there to help.
- Future-proof – Planners need to know that your property provides suitable amenity for the future; while you might not need a parking space, future owners could do.
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