Planning Permission - when to apply?

Do you know when to apply for planning permission?

If you have an architect or designer that is putting together a design scheme for your home, they should know when to apply and what the criteria are to seek planning consent.

Some of our projects fall into the listed building category, which means you may need to apply for planning consent, even if the work is internal.

You definitely need to apply for planning consent under the following situations.

  1. If you live or are thinking of buying a Grade I listed building.

  2. If you live in or are thinking of buying a Grade II listed building.

  3. Even if the property is not listed, and you would like to add an extension on the back of your home, either one of two storeys. See info below.

  4. You would like to add another level to an existing property.

A note on extensions which are pretty popular at the moment since Covid affected us.

The ‘prior approval’ process only applies to larger single-storey rear extensions.

This is defined as extending beyond the rear wall of the original house* by:

  • over four and up to eight metres for detached houses; and (up to 4 metres no consent required)

  • over three and up to six metres for all other houses (up to 3 metres no consent required)

Note. the government has relaxed the rules lately to pass these quickly, so best to check.

If you wish to build an extension of this size, you must apply to the local authority, who will then consult the adjoining neighbours to advise them of your proposals.

If your neighbours raise any concerns or objections, the local authority will be required to determine if the proposal’s impact on the amenity of all adjoining properties is acceptable and, based on this, whether it can go ahead.

It's always a good idea to run this past your neighbours beforehand and let them know what you're planning to do.

Grade II listing buildings: this is more common especially in London or towns of historic significance.

👉What it means

"Grade II listed buildings are subject to regulations which protect their historical and architectural significance. These buildings are of special interest, meaning alterations and building work can't be carried out without written consent from the relevant authorities."

As I have said, we occasionally work in central London on a Grade II listed building. This means if we want to move walls, change a bathroom or kitchen, replace floors and even a paint colour, we should apply for consent from the local authority.

I worked on a property for a client where the previous architect, trained and accredited, did not bother to apply for planning and converted a 5 storey property into individual flats. The council, Westminster, made then change it back again at enormous cost to the client, plus fines. They had to take the architect to court! So, please be careful.

The application is not expensive normally around £200 plus or minus depending on what you're applying for. Building Control is separate and may be called upon to check the building and progress of work once permission has been granted. You will also need to submit drawings and images for consideration.

What they do not want you to do is remove an existing original part of the structure of integral architectural significance. As an example, it would be okay to lay a new floor over the existing original floor, but not to remove the original floor. Lathe and plaster walls should remain intact. Any cornicing and plasterwork to remain, they will tell you if it's original or not. If the original sash windows are not fit for purpose, they must be replaced with the same type, in timber, not UPVC, and have the same amount of glazing bars. Generally, secondary glazing is also not allowed or glass with a film on it.

So, they can be tough, they will stick to the rules and not bend them!

An application can take 8-10 weeks for consent, I have always found it helpful to speak to the department in charge if you're not 100% sure your application will be accepted. This will save you time.

As an example, we worked on two properties in the same road, one was a full renovation, the other was the replacement of sash windows to the front and a change of balcony railings to the rear, both were on the very top floor of the 5 storey buildings. (and no lifts!)

The property with the railing was the most difficult to get consents. Our client was surrounded by balconies where the balustrades had been made from seamless glass, modern and look great, however, when we applied for the same type we were refused!

"How can that be," I said. However, it was discovered the other homeowners had not applied for consent and were in fact contravening regs. Needless to say, we ended up with simple black industrial style railings. And, they look fine. 👇

Planning permissions and consents for Grade II listed properties.
Handrails and spindles for the balcony

Currently, we are working on a stunning home built in the late Regency period of 1834. Planning permission was granted, surprisingly, to remove some of the ornate interior architectural elements that were not original to the building but added probably 75- 100 years later. When this is the case, the relevant councils can pass the request for removal.

See photos below.

Planning permission and removal of architectural elements
Columns no more!

We will remove the columns only here.

Planning consents in a Grade II listed building
Removal making way for wardrobes!

This centre section is very pretty, but not original to the date of building. We have received permission to remove it and the pilasters to the side. We will update you on our progress!

The original dumb waiter will also be removed and make way for refrigerators.

Planning Consent and Building Control can be tricky. It is always worthwhile asking your professional designer or architect for advice.

If you have any questions for me or my team, you can contact me here 👈. I'd love to hear from you with any questions you might have.