Planning for building projects can all be a bit daunting. There are a lot of different things to think about, and many mistakes that you’ll want to avoid.

In this series of 10 blogs, we’ll outline the basic points anyone planning a building project should be aware of.

We’ll also point out some of the common pitfalls – and suggest why, and when, you may be wise to call in the support of an expert.

As ever, our aim at CLPM is to help you save time, money and stress when you’re preparing to renovate, extend or build a new home.

We do hope you find our advice useful!

Part 1: Planning for Building Projects – do I need to get planning permission or approval?

One of the first things to check when planning to renovate, extend or build is to check what planning permissions or approvals you might need. As well as obtaining planning permission (or being covered by permitted development rights) and complying with building regulations, you may need additional permissions for development to proceed.

The planning status of your home can be dependent on many things. Is your home listed? Is your home in a conservation area? Does your home have full or restricted permitted development rights?

Listed Homes

If you own a listed home, it is crucial that you talk to your local council before you plan any building works, as you must gain listed building consent in advance.

Listed building consent is required for building works to listed buildings if it “extends to any works for the demolition of a listed building or for its alteration or extension in any manner likely to affect its character as a building of special architectural or historical interest”.

You may therefore need building regulations approval for even for small home improvements – such as replacing windows or doors.

This is important, as it is a criminal offence to carry out work which needs listed building consent without obtaining it beforehand. Unlike un-listed properties, it is also not possible to make an application for “outline” listed building consent. Any application must give sufficient detail; including a plan and other drawings necessary, to allow the impact of the works on the building to be properly assessed.

In practice, this means the first thing you should do is check with your local authority Conservation Officer whether or not consent will be needed for what you plan to do.  You should also get an outline of what might be acceptable, and find out whether the ideas you have need to be adapted to make them more likely to succeed. This simple initial step could save you a lot of time and money!

You’ll find a lot of advice on the Historic England websites www.historicengland.org.uk or you could join the Listed Property Owners Club www.lpoc.co.uk.

Conservation Areas

A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which has been deemed to be desirable to preserve or enhance.

This means that if you live in a conservation area, you will also need additional consents. Some minor developments which do not require planning permission outside a conservation area will need permission in a conservation area, including for example the insertion of new dormers, roof extensions and cladding. The size and locations of extensions are also subject to stricter controls.

Within conservation areas, trees are also given special protection. Written application for consent must be made to the council giving six weeks’ notice of intent to top, lop, or fell a tree over 75mm in diameter, measured at 1.5 metres above ground.

Planning permission is also required to demolish, or partially demolish, a building with a volume of more than 115 cubic metres. You’ll also need permission to demolish a gate, fence, wall or railing over 1 metre high next to a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) or public open space; or over 2 metres high elsewhere.

There are a few exceptions – you can get further information from your council.

Permitted Development Rights

Some types of work are allowed without formal planning permission – this is known as ‘permitted development’. Full details can be found on the planning portal website www.planningportal.co.uk

However, permitted development is not allowed for some buildings such as flats and apartments. Some properties can also have some of their permitted development rights removed by the council by them issuing an ‘Article 4’ direction. Article 4 directions are made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened. They are most common in conservation areas but can occur elsewhere too.

If your house has restricted permitted development rights, this will mean that you will have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one. This would include installing a greenhouse or garden room. You will probably know if your property is affected by such a direction, but you should check with the local planning authority if you are not sure.

Next steps

Further clarification and planning advice for listed property and conservation areas, as well as restricted permitted development rights for your property, can be obtained from your local planning department.

Once you know your home’s status, and what is feasible for your property from a planning perspective, it then makes sense to involve an experienced professional such as an architect, architectural technician or project manager to help you work up your plans for the application of consent.

We’ll be writing about this important next step in our next blog – Part 2: Design for Building Projects – do I need an architect?

Also, look out for our future blogs :-

  • Part 3: Budgeting for Building Projects – how can I work out what it might all cost?
  • Part 4: Specialists for my Building Project – do I need to get the heating, energy, lighting or interior design advice?
  • Part 5: Controlling my Building Project Budget – how to get the best prices and prevent overspending
  • Part 6: Insurance for Building Project – why both you and your builder need the right insurance in place
  • Part 7: VAT for Building Projects – what to consider and how to save money on VAT
  • Part 8: Finding a Builder – how can I find the best builder for my project?
  • Part 9: Appointing a Builder – do I need a building contract?
  • Part 10: Managing the Build – who should project manage my building project?

If you are planning major building project and would like to understand more about how the team at CLPM can help you, then do get in touch.

Call 01923 896550, email info@cl-pm.com or complete a contact form.

CLPM Project Managers cover London, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, and West Sussex. Energy Consultancy and Cost Advice services available across the UK.