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Demolition – do you need planning permission?

by Ian Butter

Q       I want to knock down a building on my property. Do I need planning permission?

A Until recently demolition of a building or structure (other than a residential building) did not usually require planning permission. In effect it was treated as Permitted Development.

For a residential property (and its associated buildings) it remains necessary to give the local council prior notification of the intention to demolish and to seek their prior approval, so that they can make requirements for the method of demolition and restoration of the site. However, even this does not constitute a planning application.

Six weeks notice under Section 80 of the Building Act 1984 is required for all demolition proposals, so that any building matters (shoring up a neighbours’ property for example) can be addressed.

Then there would need to be Listed Building Consent if the property is a Listed Building and Conservation Area Consent if it is in a Conservation Area.

Following a recent court case (R (Save Britain’s Heritage) v. SSCLG [2011]) planning         permission for demolition may now be required where the scale and nature of the           proposal is such that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is required.

The prior notification procedure now seems to apply to a far wider range of properties than previously and screening for an EIA could be required. This may mean that if an EIA is      required the proposal is no longer considered to be permitted development and an express planning permission to demolish will be required.

Leave to appeal was denied, but the change could still be subject to challenge.

However, for the time being it may be better to assume that demolition proposals           should be notified to and checked with your local council for EIA screening purposes before you take a sledge hammer or JCB to the job.

Ian P Butter BSc (Hons) FRICS MRTPI is a professionally qualified Chartered Surveyor and Town Planner and has worked in the rural sector for over 30 years.  Ian runs an online planning aid service at (now in its tenth year) where he regularly provides answers to a wide range of planning issues.

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Do I Need Planning Permission to Work from Home?

by Ian Butter

In this series of articles, planning expert Ian Butter answers some of the most commonly asked planning questions.  This week concerning home working – with more and more of us working from home or starting home businesses –  when does a building with residential use cross the line to business use?

Q. Do I Need Planning Permission to Work from Home?

A. Not necessarily.

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following, then planning permission will probably be needed:

1.  Will your home no longer be used primarily as a private residence?

2.  Will your business result in a noticeable rise in traffic or people visiting the home?

3.  Will your business involve any activities not normally to be found in a residential area?

4.  Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Working from the kitchen table or spare bedroom shouldn’t normally require consent, but convert the lounge or garage to an office and you may be edging toward problems.

The Council’s enforcement officer will become particularly interested if you carry out un-neighbourly activities. For example, pick-ups and drop-offs of products, or employing staff who work from the property, may cause parking or disturbance problems. Regular visits by members of the public or direct sales from the premises really will be tempting fate.

In essence, working from home means just that. When your home becomes a workplace first, home second, then the balance of probability will be that a change of use has taken place.

You can apply to your council for a Certificate of Lawful Use for the proposed activity to be certain that you’re working-from-home activities are not a change of use. Be careful also in sensitive areas such as Conservation Areas or in Listed Buildings.

Even if planning permission is not required, Building Regulation and/or Listed Building approval might be.

For further advice go to

Ian P Butter BSc (Hons) FRICS MRTPI is a professionally qualified Chartered Surveyor and Town Planner and has worked in the rural sector for over 30 years.  Ian runs an online planning aid service at (now in its tenth year) where he regularly provides answers to a wide range of planning issues.


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Ten Things You need to know about the Town Planning System

by Ian Butter

The British town planning system is a complex beasty at the best of times, but if you are considering development proposals or changing the use of land or buildings you may need to bear in mind one or more of the following key elements:

1    Check to see if you need planning permission. You may not!
•    Does your existing permission already allow your intended use? It’s always     worth checking
•    Is there an outstanding consent that can be implemented
•    There are certain Permitted Development Rights available for minor activities and land uses
•    There are also specific Use Classes for development between which you can change without the need for planning permission

2    Development in the Green Belt is rarely allowed.
•    Very special circumstances have to be argued
•    Generally avoid high environmental and ecological areas (SSSI’s, AONB etc)

3    Always arrange a Pre-application meeting with the Council
•    It can save you a huge amount of time and money

4    Work through the Validation Checklist and make sure you have all the  relevant information.
•    There is nothing worse than putting your application in and then finding     you need to submit more information; that you don’t have!

5    Statutory Planning Fees are chargeable, based on area and/or type of     application

•    Careful attention to the exact application boundary can save money
•    Householder applications are separate and generally cheaper

6    Development related to Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas will normally require additional permissions

7    Securing your planning permission is just the start. Make sure you satisfy all the conditions (and don’t forget Building Regulations either)

8    Advertisement Consent may be required for both illuminated and non-    illuminated signs etc
•    The regulations are complex and you will need to take care in erecting signs without permission

9    Local Authorities have extensive Enforcement powers. They can and do take action against unlawful development.

•    But always check to see if you can obtain a Lawful Development Certificate     for works or uses that meet the relevant time limits

10    Do your research, take advice, ensure you have all the information required and allow plenty of time.
•    You can rush planning but all that tends to happen is that you receive a refusal and have to start all over again

Next Time: Making Applications via the Planning Portal

Planning information supplied by Ian Butter FRICS MRTPI
From: The Rural and Urban Planning Consultancy

twitter:         @THEPLANNERMAN

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