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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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