Your local planning authority (LPA), usually a department of the council, is responsible for deciding whether a proposed development should be allowed to go ahead. This is called planning permission.
Most new buildings, major alterations to existing buildings and significant changes to the use of a building or piece of land need this permission.
However, certain minor building works, known as permitted development,don't need planning permission. This is because the effect of such developments on neighbours or the surrounding environment is likely to be small. For example building a boundary wall below a certain height. Similarly, a change of land or building use is classed as permitted development if it's within the same use class.
Other areas get special protection against certain developments. Reasons for special protection include:
Protect attractive landscape – e.g. national parks
Protect interesting plants and/or wildlife
Control the spread of towns and villages into open countryside – e.g. Green Belts
Protect monuments or buildings of historical or architectural interest.
Occasionally, large proposals or controversial applications of national significance are 'called in' to be decided by the First Secretary of State instead of the LPA.
Please note that Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work.
It is generally realised that a form of permission is required for building work or alterations of properties. However, it may not always be clear how the planning and building regulations approval regimes differ.
You may also have responsibilities under the construction health and safety regulations.
Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.
For many types of building work, separate permission under both regimes (separate processes) will be required. For other building work, such as internal alterations, buildings regulations approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority or a building control body.
If you are carrying out, or having construction or building work done, you may need to notify the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and may have other duties as well under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015). Although a domestic client does not have duties under CDM 2015, those who work for them on construction projects will.
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Find out whether your home improvement or large scale commercial project needs planning permission or building regulations approval. Use our common projects and interactive guides to find out about permitted development limits or explore our in-depth guidance to understand about what you need to consider at each stage of your project.
Home improvement projects
Do you want to create more space in your home, make it more energy efficient or perhaps you are looking to self-build? Whether your project is large or small the Planning Portal's common projects and interactive guidance can help you to plan and take the next steps to begin your building work.
Whether you are planning a large scale commercial project, submitting an application on behalf of a client or changing the use of a building, our comprehensive guidance about planning and building regulations can help you to remain compliant throughout the projects life-cycle, helping you through to completion on time and in budget.
A wall is a "party wall" if it stands astride the boundary of land belonging to two (or more) different owners.
Some kinds of work carried out to a property may not be controlled by the Building Regulations, but may be work which is covered by the Party Wall etc. Act 1996. This is a separate piece of legislation with different requirements to the Building Regulations.
A booklet has also been produced by DCLG to explain in simple terms how the Party Wall etc Act 1996 ("the Act") may affect someone who either wishes to carry out work covered by the Act (the "Building Owner"), or receives notification under the Act of proposed adjacent work (the "Adjoining Owner").
This booklet has been simplified and updated to provide some answers to regularly asked questions. For example: what a party wall award can cover, what to do if a building becomes unsafe or there is excessive noise from the work being carried and the role of the surveyor.