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What permissions do I need?

Planning permission is generally required for carrying out any form of 'development' and this includes the use of land and buildings as well as the more obvious construction or alteration of buildings. Consent is also required from the council for works which alter, extend or would result in the demolition of even part of a building of special architectural or historic interest (a listed building). The display of many signs and advertisements, and work affecting trees which are covered by tree preservation orders, are also the subject of control by the borough council. In conservation areas permission is required to demolish any building and the council must be notified if you wish to fell a tree in such an area.

Many small-scale operations such as small extensions to houses, the addition of a small porch, or the erection of gates and fences, do not require planning permission. These are referred to as permitted development. The rules on permitted development are designed to help you by removing the need to apply to the council for small-scale development. However, the rules themselves can be complicated and, if in doubt, you should check with the Planning Department. Flats and maisonettes do not have permitted development rights, so most external work will need planning permission.

The Planning Portal provides useful information and guidance on this topic.

Types of planning application

There are three main types of planning application:

Outline planning applications

These contain no details but are submitted to obtain permission in principle. Conditions are usually attached to set out guidelines for the final development of the site. Outline planning applications cannot be made for a change of use. The council does not normally grant outline planning permission in conservation areas or where the setting of listed buildings is affected.

Reserved matters

The council will require further details to be submitted for approval following the granting of outline planning permission. A reserved matters application must normally be submitted within three years of the date of the outline permission, otherwise it will lapse. In some cases, further details will be reserved by conditions imposed when approval is given to the reserved matters.

Full planning applications

These include all details of the proposed development including site and building plans and types of building materials to be used. Development must normally start within three years of the date of the permission, otherwise permission will lapse. In the course of dealing with an application, the council may discuss and agree with the applicant alterations to the original proposal which will make it more acceptable. If the amendments are substantial, a fresh application may be required.

Applicants have by law to pay a fee to the council when making an application. Fees are charged according to a nationally laid-down scale.