Little-known DIY jobs that need planning permission
When it comes to DIY, it’s not just your skill level that can hamper your efforts.
Planning permission must be obtained for certain works, and others are subject to building regulations that require jobs to be done to strict specifications.
For the most part, we’re all aware that you need permission to erect a building, but even celebrities have fallen foul of complicated development limits on smaller home improvements.
Just a few months back, Jeremy Clarkson’s application to build a cafe and car park on his Oxfordshire estate was rejected, while Ed Sheeran was refused consent to dig a wildlife pond on his Suffolk property (although he’s since applied to build an underground crypt instead).
Essentially, we’re all subject to the same rules regardless of money and power, and breaching these may result in an enforcement notice to dismantle structures or legal action if you don’t comply.
To avoid this, it’s crucial to know what’s required of you before starting any work, however big or small the job.
Andrew Dickinson, Chartered Engineer and part of the Borehole Solutions group, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Pretty much any “substantive” works will require planning permission.
‘The problem is how each LPA (Local Planning Authority) interprets the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) in terms of “substantive” works. Many local authorities shuffle off “smaller works” to Building Control.
‘As an example of this, I’ve recently knocked two downstairs rooms through by removing a supporting wall, resulting in the installation of an RSJ; my LPA (Rotherham) decided this was managed by Building Control and not the planning process.
‘Alternatively, my sister built an extra bedroom over the garage of her house and her LPA (Tendering) decided it needed full planning, despite it arguably being less “substantial” than my work. So, even the starting point is a minefield!’
Many minor alterations, like adding a window to the wall of an existing house, don’t require any permission. You may however need building regulations approval, which ensures you’re doing work to an industry-compliant standard.
Certain types of work fall under ‘permitted development rights’, meaning you don’t need to apply for a permit as it’s automatically granted. Examples of permitted developments include porches of less than 3m squared, loft and garage conversions, installing satellite dishes or solar panels, and internal alterations like knocking down non load bearing walls.
Bear in mind, though, that these allowances don’t apply to flats or apartment blocks, and always check with your local council to ensure you’re definitely compliant.
Andrew adds: ‘The sort of DIY work covered by local authority supervision includes anything that extends the home in any direction. Whether it’s downwards, upwards or sideways, it will need some kind of approval.
‘In a lot of cases, the decision will be based on how big a proportion of the original footprint of the building the extension is, so even something like a conservatory could need planning permission, if it’s large enough.’
‘A good guideline is that, unless you are doing something substantive, like removing a supporting wall or a loft conversion, any work within the property is unlikely to require planning permission – and if any permission is needed it will more than likely fall under building control.
‘Any work outside – a conservatory; a large outbuilding (e.g. a garden/office); any building/structure, including a fence, over 6” tall, blocking light to your neighbour’s property (The Right to Light Act: 2015) or potentially impacting your neighbour’s property (e.g. a Party Wall – the Party Wall Act: 1996) – is likely to need planning permission.’
He says that one of the most common jobs that catches people out is putting in a dropped kerb, which needs to be constructed to a certain code and normally needs both planning permission and approval from the local authority highways department.
Similarly, converting a commercial, banking, or industrial property into a residential one – even if you aren’t changing the structure of the building – is often overlooked but subject to planning laws.
‘The best approach would be to tell the LPA what you are planning on doing, irrespective of what it is, and let them tell you which permission route you need to follow, if any,’ says Andrew.
He continues: ‘Not getting planning permission when it’s needed can be very serious – and whilst in a lot of cases retrospective permission can be sought and granted, there is no guarantee it will.
‘A lot of people don’t realise just how much power LPA’s have. They can put a Stop Notice on the works if they aren’t happy and their ultimate sanction is to make you pull down your lovely new construction (or fill in your basement).’
It’s no use forking out for materials and spending time on DIY if you’re going to be told to tear it straight down.
Always check ahead and ensure you stick to any conditions set – otherwise it could waste you a lot of blood, sweat, tears, and cash.
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