Planning regs - what are the rules?

(26/11/14) Your local authority is the provider of number of services in your area, from collecting your bins, preventing noise pollution and ensuring planning guidelines are followed, to looking after schools, social care or municipal sports facilities. This week, we take a look at planning issues and how these are dealt with.

Building Site

Permitted development

The Government allows you to undertake certain improvements to your home without the need for planning permission. This is called permitted development. These are different for England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland. 

Permitted development looks at all developments to your home or the property since 1948, so when considering if you need planning permission you need to consider all development work on the property since then.

What can I do?

Under permitted development rules, the ‘original’ (or as it stood in 1948 on older homes) rear wall of a detached home can be extended as a single storey by four metres, or three metres for a terraced or semi-detached home. Until 30 May 2016, however, this limit has been extended to eight metres and six metres, subject to approval from the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

If your proposed extension is within two metres of a boundary, then the eaves height is limited to three metres. Otherwise, a single-storey rear extension must be no more than four metres tall at the eaves.

If you hope to build a two-storey extension (no higher than the house), this can project up to three metres from the original rear wall, so long as it is at least seven metres from the rear boundary. 

It’s also important to note that no extension can project beyond the front of the house, or an elevation that faces a road. In addition, any side extension must not make up more than half your house’s width.

Furthermore, with the exception of conservatories, new extensions must be built of materials ‘similar in appearance’ and with the same roof pitch as the main house. 

I recommend that you contact your local council’s planning department, explain what you want to do and ask them if they think you need planning permission. Ensure you have a written record of this, including who you spoke to and what was said. 

See more at: http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/house

What if I need planning permission?

If you need planning permission, then you can make an application to your local council. You will have to pay a fee for this - often a few hundred pounds. As part of the process, it is likely that the council will expect you to display a notice outside the property announcing the development. This then allows the public to comment on the plan. 

Depending on the number of responses and the planning officer’s opinion, your application can either be permitted, sent to the planning committee, or rejected.

If the application is passed, then you will be given conditions, i.e. rules that you will need to obey for the planning permission to be granted. 

Most decisions are granted within eight weeks. Unusually large or complex projects can take up to 13 weeks to be decided upon.

Appealing a planning decision 

If you wish to appeal a planning decision in England, then you should refer your case to the planning inspector. The Planning Inspectorate inspectors will then reassess your case. This may include visiting your property. They will not gather additional information from you, but will assess all the information provided by your council and any site inspection that they undertake. A typical appeal can take 21 to 23 weeks to resolve. 

You can appeal against:

• A refusal of your planning permission
• Permission granted, but you object to the conditions
• A refusal to change or remove conditions
• Refusal to approve something that was permitted under a previous planning process
• A decision not made within the deadline or permission not given to change the deadline
• The serving of an enforcement notice that you disagree with

The Planning Inspectorate can over turn the decision of your local Council. 

Planning breach 

If you undertake development without planning permission, this is known as a breach. This can occur when:
• A development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted - either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for
• A development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions.
A planning breach in itself is not illegal and the council will often permit a retrospective application where planning permission has not been sought.

However, if the breach involves a previously rejected development (or the retrospective application fails) the council can issue an enforcement notice.

When deciding if there is a breach, the council will consider if the development would unacceptably affect public amenity or the existing use of land and buildings meriting protection in the public interest.

It is illegal to disobey an enforcement notice unless it is successfully appealed.

What if the issue is not addressed?

If you feel the issue of the planning application breach has not been dealt with correctly by your council, you have the right to challenge the decision by going to the Local Government Ombudsman. 

They can get involved with your case when a complaint has been open for more than 12 weeks and are there as the last resort to resolve your issue.

They will usually investigate complaints where the evidence suggests there has been a significant breach of planning control that directly affects you and where your complaint is about the way the council has dealt with, or failed to deal with, the matter. 

The Local Government Ombudsman will independently assess your complaint for free and give a decision. This is binding on your council. 

How long do I have to complain?

You have 12 months from when you realise there is an issue to take your case to the Local Government Ombudsman.
What will the Local Government Ombudsman look for?

When you raise an issue to the Local Government Ombudsman, they will consider whether the council has done something wrong in the way it went about dealing with a report of a planning breach such as:

• Unreasonably delayed assessing whether there is a breach of planning control
• Unreasonably delayed deciding how serious the breach is and what action is appropriate
• Unreasonably delayed taking enforcement action where it accepts it is justified
• Failed to keep proper records, such as records of site visits
• Failed to have a written policy on planning enforcement or failed to take its policies into account when deciding what action to take
• Failed to tell the parties involved of its decision or to keep them informed of progress, or
• Failed to liaise properly with other departments, such as environmental health or building control.

Remember

If you are building a property, building works or an extension, you should also check to see if you need to apply for Building Control. This you can do either through your local council or via private firms. This will be an additional cost and you should apply for it before you start work.

If you have an issue regarding planning regs start your complaint via Resolver now

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