Planning Permission – New Builds
If you’re an avid watcher of property programmes on television, you will already be well aware that one of the most popular purchases is land that is ripe for building. Whether that’s an empty lot with or without planning permission already or a plot where there’s adequate space in addition to the existing structure, bidding can be fierce.
Out of any given year’s new home construction statistics, anything up to 10% – approximately 12,000 properties – are self-build projects. That level of popularity does mean that there are a number of commercial enterprises dedicated to new builds as a means of getting the new home you really want. These offer options allowing you to have as much or as little involvement as you choose. However, like all renovation projects which aren’t covered by permitted development, you can’t just throw up a couple of three-bedroom houses on a whim – you need planning permission.
What do I need to do?
Since planning permission is linked to land rather than to individuals, it’s possible that if you’ve bought a plot at auction that it already carries permission for a specific structure. This should be detailed in any paperwork, but it’s worth checking specifics.
You should also be very wary of scams; any major financial outlay is a tempting hunting ground for criminals, and self-building land purchases are no exception. There are some sorts of land that are unlikely to be granted planning permission – green belt, or land at risk from flooding for example – and it’s worth getting your local planning authority’s advice before parting with any money as you’d be very unlikely to get it back again.
Your LPA will also be able to guide you through, especially as planning regulations can be difficult to untangle for the inexperienced, and local planning restrictions can differ from one authority to another. You will probably have to pay for any pre-application advice, but that’s considerably cheaper than losing money on a land-banking scheme or putting together plans with an architect that won’t get approved.
For new builds, especially for very complex projects, you might want to approach your planning permission application in two stages; an application for outline planning permission (or OPP) can give you an indication of whether your plans will be approved before you spend too much. It’s normally applied to larger projects only, but as a belt and braces option it’s worth asking your LPA’s advice here, especially as local politics might be as likely to affect the outcome as much as the nature of the structure.
As already mentioned each local authority is likely to have its own advice section prior to making a final planning application and going onto the detailed planning permission (or DPP) stage of the process.
However, it’s worth being wary of purchases where the land is being sold with OPP; this might mean that basics like access to the site still haven’t been agreed, let alone the nature of the structure. You might find yourself with permission to build little better than a one-bedroom bungalow!
How long will it take?
You should get a decision within eight weeks of your application being submitted, especially as a local council’s performance is judged on results, and speed of results. Unfortunately, this does mean that it can be tricky negotiating any amendments if your application is not approved. However, if you keep an eye on your application at every stage of the process, you can save yourself some money – if problems are identified, you can withdraw it and submit a new application at no extra charge.
And if it’s refused?
It’s worth noting that if permission is refused, it can take an independent planning inspector a year at least to make a decision which still might not find in your favour, hence keeping an eye on each stage of your initial application. However, all is not lost as that does give you a clear outline with regard to what isn’t acceptable on the site, and if you’re going for the perfect home for you, an extra year might be a perfectly reasonable waiting time.
As with other types of planning permission, neighbours might object (although that doesn’t necessarily mean refusal), so you might want to canvass the area and make a few enquiries. After all, you’re making a huge financial and emotional investment if you’re building your own home.
Retrospective Planning Permission
When making major changes to your home that aren’t covered by permitted development, you should always endeavour to obtain planning permission in advance. However, when planning permission isn’t given in advance, or when the finished structure differs significantly from the works permission was granted for, there may be action by the council.
Punishment won’t necessarily be forthcoming. Enforcement action is only likely if the building is dangerous, or if planning permission for the finished structure would have been refused to start with.
Not getting permission
Going ahead with building works without getting planning permission in advance is extremely risky. The worst case scenario is that the building or land will have to be restored to its previous ‘permitted’ state, or undergo other modifications which would be considered compliant. At best, selling the property on could be problematic if alterations are out with permitted development guidelines, and don’t have the paperwork in place to declare them legal.
The Four Year Rule
There’s an element of time being a great healer when it comes to unauthorised developments, and that’s where the four year rule comes in (or the ten year rule, if it’s not a residential property). In layman’s terms, if the alterations have been in constant use for four years, any action will be unenforceable.
For example, if a house was acquired through circumstances where you didn’t necessarily know the status with regards to planning permission – such as through inheritance – contacting the local council will be necessary. They will then respond asking for dimensions and materials used, and let you know whether planning permission was required in the first place, or whether the four year rule means that nothing can be done anyway.
A Lawful Development Certificate, or LDC, will give you peace of mind, and add a belt to those braces. It’s not the same as planning permission, but it will reassure buyers that the building work is lawful. It’s not free, but it’s a fee worth paying.
There is one notable and famous example of the four year rule being declared null and void.
It’s often said that an Englishman’s home is his castle, but when Mr Fidler decided to build a mock Tudor castle without obtaining planning permission first, his case of seeking retrospective planning permission went spectacularly wrong. He claims that he had put in a proper planning application which had never been responded to, so at some point between 1999 and 2006, a sizeable house was erected, and somehow kept secret.
Being aware of the four year rule, he hid his castle behind bales of hay, believing that all he had to do was keep it out of sight for the required period of time, and it would be allowed to remain standing. He was wrong. Reigate and Banstead Borough Council decided that as no one had been able to see the house for four years, it could be argued that building work hadn’t actually been completed until the hay bales were removed in 2006, and therefore, they were going to take enforcement action.
The ensuing legal battle took almost a decade, and even though Mr Fidler obtained nearly 2,000 signatures on a petition to save the property, the High Court injunction had one thing to say – take it down.
Making a start
On occasion, time may dictate that building work starts before planning permission is in place. In which case, you might wish to choose to play Russian Roulette, take a chance, get going, and hope for the best by submitting retrospective planning permission either when works are still going on or when they’re already finished. However, this is a huge risk. Permission might be granted, but it’s equally likely that your plans – already solid bricks and mortar by this point – will be refused. There is an appeal process, but it can take a very long time – and as seen above, it can drag on for years, and then not necessarily find in your favour.
Retrospective planning permission is a risk that should only be taken under very rare circumstances, such as when you are reasonably sure permitted development would cover the works anyway, or when a property has come into your possession under circumstances where you’re not sure if the works are lawful, or covered by the four year rule (and hay bales aren’t the answer).Read More
When do you need planning permission?
Planning permission can vary a lot depending on your council but the overall answer is anything that involves extending your home will require permission. If you want to create storage at the back or an outbuilding this will require certificate of lawful development.
Certificate of lawful development
This scheme is used to be certain that the existing building/dwelling is for law planning (permitted development) in a lot of councils, you’re allowed to build a loft conversion under permitted development. However your area maybe under an article 4 restricting permitted development. A certificate of Lawful development give you certainty that planning permission is not needed and you’re able to carry out the building work. An example when a Lawful development application will be put through is when a owner of the house discovers that planning permission has not been granted for an extension to the dwelling, they will need to show the purchaser that there will be no enforcement action and hence obtain a lawful development certificate.
Lawful development is not the same as planning, however you will still need architectural drawings, existing floor plans and proposed, front back and sides elevations. Proof that your household building work is lawful.
Permitted development rights
PD was first introduced in the very beginning of the planning system, which allowed for minor work i.e converting a loft. The reason for this is to help improve the amount of application put through. As stated previous the amount of work, which you can carry out under PD, depends on a lot of factors, the geographic location of your property, if you’re in a conservation area or under article 4. You will also need to take in consideration the amount of work already carried out to the property.
This is very rare application to be used. An outline planning application is used to find out at the preliminary whether or not the proposed is likely to be approved by the Local authority, it is similar to pre application advice. The major advantage to this application is it allows fewer details of the proposal to be submitted decreasing your architecture costs.
How much will an application cost?
The price can vary significantly depending on the type of application submitted. The cost for a new dwelling full application would cost £385 and a householder planning application will cost £172. If you plan to seek pre application advice a further fee will need to be paid.
What are a design and access statement and Heritage statement?
A design and access statement should accompany any planning application in a conservation area or in a protected area. The statement is used to justify the design concept and the access to it while the proposed works is to be carried out. The detail will depend on the complexity of the job and how big the job is. A heritage statement is similar to a design and access statement. The heritage statement should cover the background of the site and the conservation area its falls within, the current appearance of the site and how the proposed works enhances the character of the building and the area as a whole.
The time process for a planning application.
Your application in brent will be submitted electronically through the Planning Portal. Once your application has been submitted, the relevant local authority will go through it validations, all applications will require a site plan normally marked out in red with 2 street showing and site plans of the existing a proposed dwellings. Once your application has been validated, it should take 8 to 12 week of registration.
Once the validation has taken place the case officer or validation officer will write to the neighbours who share the boundary with yourself and affected neighbours, this stage is called the consultation period whereby any neighbour can put there objections in. This process will carry on for a period of 21 days.
My planning application was refused what is the next step?
You can either go to appeal if you have strong ground or you can resubmit the plan in line with the recommendations of the case officer. Planning permission will normally last for up to 3 year however if you start the build you will have unlimited time to complete the works.Read More