Legally, your local Council is obliged to consider retrospective planning applications, even when it appears unlikely that planning permission would be granted. If this approach is unsuccessful, or if a retrospective application is refused, this involves serving an enforcement notice requiring the unauthorised work to be removed, or the activity to cease, within a specific timeframe.
It is an offence not to comply with an enforcement notice. If the offender is found guilty in a Magistrate’s Court, there is currently a maximum fine of £20,000. At a Crown Court, there is no limit to the fine that could be imposed.
It’s true that not all development or change of use requires planning permission, but, if you have already completed your building project without asking the question, how do you know where you stand with the local Authorities?
Let’s look at the kind of things that DO NOT require planning permission in this area.
- Internal works to a non-listed building (but you might need Building Regulations approval).
- Operating a business from home where the residential use remains the primary use and there is no adverse impact on residential amenity.
- Insertion of some windows in houses – once a building has been occupied, windows may be inserted into existing walls, provided there is not a planning condition to prevent this.
A breach of planning control can include all sorts of issues, including:
- building work or a change of use without planning permission
- work that is not in accordance with approved plans and conditions
- work to a Listed Building without consent
- untidy land or buildings that affect local amenity
You may not feel that your particular build falls into any of the above-mentioned categories, and there is a chance that no one will ever question what you have done. That is, not until someone complains to the local Authority or you try to sell the property.
Still not sure if you need to worry? How about some good news!
For a period of six years, between 30 May 2013 and 30 May 2019, under something called Householder Permitted Development, householders will be able to build larger single-storey rear extensions under permitted development.
The size limits will double from 4 metres to 8 metres for detached houses, and from 3 metres to 6 metres for all other houses.
However, these new, larger extensions (i.e. if they extend between 4 and 8 metres, or between 3 and 6 metres) must still go through a process.
There is no fee in connection with this process but the homeowner must notify the local planning authority and a copy of this notice must also be sent to the developer.
Getting Something in Writing
Maybe you are looking for peace of mind or are ready to sell your property and want something in writing that confirms whether or not planning permission is required.
You will need to make a Certificate of Lawfulness application.
You will need to complete a form and pay a fee, which is worked out as half of the amount you would pay if you were applying for planning permission.
Clearly, this only covers part of the current rules and regulations and refers to the Stafford Borough Council area. For more information, go to your own local council website and search for their Planning Portal.