The Difference Between Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval

Perhaps you’re looking to make a few structural alterations to a commercial building. Maybe you want to extend your home or convert your loft.

Either way, local authority approval is nearly always required due to the various rules and regulations surrounding construction work.

Depending on the scope of your project, you will need to apply for planning permission or building regulations approval.

We take a look at both types of permission and the circumstances in which either may apply.

What is Planning Permission?

In short, planning permission is consent from your local authority for the construction or alteration of a building.

Planning permission can either be granted or refused. Here are some of the factors that may affect your planning application:

Design – In some cities the design of a building must be in keeping with the general aesthetic of surrounding properties;
Neighbors – Your neighbors’ views are taken into consideration by the local authority. Therefore, it is essential that your new construction plans do not impair their views, access to sunlight or negatively impact their homes or gardens in any way. Discussing your plans with your neighbors in advance is strongly advised;
Environmental Health – The local authority will take into consideration the impact your construction plans may on the environmental safety of people working or living nearby. Factors such as air pollution and unfit housing will also be taken into consideration by environmental health officers;
Nature and Wildlife – Animals and plants are protected under the ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981’, therefore any work you wish to carry out will be heavily scrutinized, if there’s a chance it may affect the local flora or fauna;
Roads and Highways – If access to any roads or highways are affected during construction, the local highways authority will need to be notified.

It is important to remember that it is the responsibility of the building owner to seek planning permission from the local authority before the work can begin.
What if the application for planning permission is rejected?

If any of the factors above impact your planning application, don’t despair – there are several things you can do:

1. Make an appeal;
2. Modify your plans to ensure they comply with whatever barred your application in the first place.

What is Building Regulations Approval?

Building regulations approval is concerned with the standard of a building’s design and construction, including any alteration work.

Unlike planning permission, which largely considers the external impact of any work you wish to carry out, building regulations approval is more concerned with the health and safety aspect of your construction plans.

When considering an application for building regulations approval, an approved inspector will consider the following:

• Fire Safety;
• Structural integrity;
• Accessibility;
• Ventilation;
• Drainage;
• Energy efficiency;

‘Full Plans’ or ‘Building Notice’

Depending on the scope of your project, you will either make a ‘full plans’ or ‘building notice’ application:

– Large projects (i.e. a new housing development) require a ‘full plans’ application, the more detailed of the two. During the application process, the applicant must provide extensive details of the proposed work. As a result, the decision process is more protracted;

– For smaller projects, or modifications to an existing building, a ‘building notice’ is sufficient. As less detail is required, the decision process is much quicker.

If successful, you will receive a completion certificate approving your proposed plans.

What Happens When You Fail to Obtain or Comply with Permission?

Failure to obtain or comply with planning permission will result in an enforcement notice served by the local planning authority.

It is illegal to disobey or ignore this notice, therefore it is essential that you take action by either appealing the notice or modifying your plans.

Equally, carrying out work without a certified building regulations approval certificate can result in prosecution and hefty fines.

Article credit: HLN Engineering