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The Difference Between Planning and Building Regulations

Updated: Aug 9

This might be a simple subject for some of those reading this. Like me, you may deal with these types of applications day in and day out. I imagine though, even then, the thought of submitting a planning application can bring on the sweats, nervousness, and even about of squeaky bum time.


So much can depend on the response from the council to your application.


Your future profits from the deal. The viability of your scheme you’re proposing. Or simply just keeping the other half happy as you have promised them an extension and new kitchen after years of spending money on other people’s houses.



From my own experiences whilst attending networking events over the past few years, I think there may be a little confusion between what each process or application is and at what stages you need to submit or apply for them. I will try to briefly give an overview of the processes and application types you may encounter.


Very simply, applying for planning is the process of asking the council if you are allowed to alter a building or piece of land by extending it, changing its appearance or size, changing its use or building something new on or within it. Building regulations, on the other hand, is a minimum set of standards that each building or change to a building must meet in order to stand up, protect its user’s or inhabitant’s wellbeing and safety, and also the levels of performance, efficiency and sustainability that the end product or project must meet. How it must perform and behave when it has been built and completed.


The penalties for not having the correct permissions in place can be severe. If you do not have planning permission for something, or it is deemed unsafe under building regs, you could be made to tear the whole thing down!


So then, planning is usually submitted before the project gets to a site to be built. With a planning application, the Council will assess each proposal against both locally and nationally set guidelines and policies in order to determine whether what is being proposed meets fits in with the councils plans for the area. Some good documents to check out and familiarise yourself with would be your local council’s local plan, development plan, and their supplementary planning documents and design guides. These should be freely available on your local council’s website.


Once you have your proposed designs and ready to submit, you will likely head down one of a few routes in order to gain your permissions. You have;


Permitted Development

You would use for certain types of domestic extensions and alterations. Some change of use classes. Some types of conversion works. If you provide enough information or proof to confirm your project meets set criteria, the works will be allowable without a planning officer’s input.


Householder Planning

For works to any existing residential dwelling which does not fall under permitted development. Wraparound extensions, raising roof heights or front external extensions (dormers, etc.). Assessed against policies by a planning officer.


Listed building consent

As the title suggests, you would use this permission in order to work on, extend, alter, or demolish any listed building or building within the listed buildings curtilage. Work needs to be agreed by/with a conservation officer, so can be a longer process.


Full Planning Permission

Needed when building a new house or development site. Changing of use for certain buildings not covered by permitted development. Any works relating to a flat. Works to a business/ commercial building. Generally, most other things you can do with land.


Pre-Application Advice

Carried out before any formal planning application, this is guidance on what might be required accompany an application and whether what you’re ticks those policy boxes, although the council aren’t bound by the advice they give, so in my mind can be a little bit of a con!


Applications can be lined up too. For example, I have been working on the conversion of a 2-bed terraced house to 5 person/ bedroom HMO. The loft conversion will be carried out under Permitted Development, using the allowable 40cu.m of additional roof space we can create.


A long, single storey extension will be submitted under Householder Planning which will eventually contain the kitchen and communal space, then, once completed, we’ll again use our Permitted Development rights again to change the dwelling (Class C3) to an HMO (Class C4) where we can have up to 6 bedrooms.






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