Planning frequently asked questions
Below are some common queries and answers about the planning process.
Common householders and flats projects
(Creation of new flats and conversions, extensions, replacement of windows and doors, satellite dishes, roof terraces, outbuildings and sheds, solar panels, boundary walls, hardstandings, pipes and flues and pruning of trees.)
Common business projects
(Changes of use, installation of canopies and awnings, alteration of shopfronts, installation of advertisements and CCTVs.)
- a) Do I need permission to change or replace windows?
You will need planning permission to change or replace any windows or doors in a flat or maisonette. This would include the change from single glazing to double glazing; and/or timber framed windows to UPVC and alterations to the method of opening.
You can do this without planning permission for a single house, provided that the materials used in any exterior work are of a similar appearance. Where the materials proposed are not of a similar appearance, or the method of opening is not similar to the original windows, planning permission will be required.
However, this will depend on whether your property is covered by an Article 4 direction which removes permitted development rights.
You don't need to make a planning application if your property is in a conservation area, and there is no Article 4 removing your rights to replace windows. If you want confirmation that these works are permitted, you can make an application for a Lawful Development Certificate. You might also need the freeholder's permission depending on the terms of your lease and if the property is a listed building then you will need Listed Building Consent regardless of whether it is a single house or a flat.
Search on the 'property' tab of the Public Access.
- b) Do I need permission to install satellite dishes?
You may need planning permission to put up a satellite dish in a flat or maisonette.
For all properties in conservation areas, planning permission is required, but would be unlikely to be granted if it is visible from the road.
It might be possible to put up a satellite dish without the need for planning permission in a house, under permitted development rights. See further information from the Planning Portal on satellite dishes.
We would advise you to make an application for a Lawful Development Certificate in order to obtain confirmation that the proposed works fall under permitted development rights.
- c) Do I need permission to create a roof terrace?
Yes. You will need to apply for planning permission to create a roof terrace for a flat or a house.
- d) Do I need permission to erect a garden shed and/or an outbuilding?
You need to apply for planning permission to erect a garden shed or an outbuilding in a flat or maisonette.
For a single house, the erection of a garden shed or an outbuilding can be permitted development if it meets the requirements set out in Class E GPDO. See further information on the Planning Portal on outbuildings.
If the property is in a conservation area, you will require planning permission if the proposed outbuilding will be at the side or front of the property.
- e) Do I need permission to make a basement?
You need full planning permission to create a new basement or extend the existing basement. This includes flats, maisonettes and single dwelling houses.
There is an Article 4 direction in place regarding basements.
To check our current planning regarding basements, please see pages DC11 of the Local Plan (pdf). See also Key Principles BL1, 2 and 3 of the Planning Guidance - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) (pdf). An application for a basement will require a Construction Method Statement.
- f) Do I need permission to let a room within my property on a short term basis?
Planning permission is not required for a person to short term let/holiday let a property or a room within their property as long as:
- they are the person who is liable to pay council tax for the property;
- they don't let the property on short term lets for more than a total of 90 days in any calendar year.
These new provisions do not apply to companies or letting agencies.
This council has a zero-tolerance approach to those who are flouting the regulations and will take enforcement action against owners or landlords who are found to be in breach of the regulations.
A property in a conservation area may still benefit from permitted development rights, subject to there being no Article 4 restrictions on the property. A lawful development certificate is encouraged.
- g) Do I need permission to install a solar panel?
The installation of solar panels is usually permitted development (i.e. not requiring planning permission) provided it complies with the following criteria;
- the solar panels do not protrude more than 0.2 metres beyond the plane of the wall or roof slope or exceed the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney)
- Solar panels are not installed to a wall which fronts a highway located within a conservation area
- Solar panels are not installed to listed buildings
Solar panels should as far as possible be sited to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area. They should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable when no longer needed.
Planning permission may also be required if the site is subject to an article 4 direction restricting permitted development rights for development of this nature. Article 4 directions in effect in the borough can be found on our website (link Article 4 Directions | LBHF).
- h) Do I need permission to change or replace boundaries, fences and railings?
You don’t need planning permissions if your proposal is to take down a fence, wall or gate, or to alter, maintain or improve an existing fence, wall or gate (no matter how high) if you don't increase its height.
If you want to put up a new boundary wall, fence, railings or gate that is over one metre high and it is next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway); or over two metres high elsewhere you will need planning permission. This applies to houses in and outside of conservation areas. You'll also need to check if your property is subject to an Article 4 direction before changing.
- i) Do I need permission to install flues, pipes and chimneys?
You will need planning permission to install flues, pipes and chimneys in a flat or maisonette.
A proposal to install flues, pipes and chimneys in a house might be permitted development if the proposal is not 1m higher than the higher part of the roof. See further information on the Planning Portal in relation to flues and chimneys.
If the house is covered by an Article 4 or is located in a conservation area, and the proposal affects the side or front elevation of the house, it is likely that you will require planning permission.
- j) Do I need permission to create a hardstanding on my front garden?
In the case of a flat or maisonette you will need to apply for a full planning permission to create a hardstanding surface.
In the case of a single house, you will require planning permission if:
- the proposal exceeds 5m2
- the hard surface will be made of non-porous materials
- no provision will be made to direct run-off water to a permeable or porous area within the land around the original house.
- k) Do I need permission to prune or remove trees from my property?
Generally, you don’t need planning permission to prune or remove a tree unless it is located in a conservation area in which case you will need to give six weeks’ notice to the council about the proposed works to the tree.
This applies to trees with a trunk diameter of 75mm or more. Further information can be found on our trees page.
Some trees are protected and will require planning permission to prune or remove. These are known as Tree Preservation Orders (TPOs) and you can find more from our urban design and conservation team. See more information about trees and TPOs.
Some trees may be required to be retained by a condition on an implemented planning permission at the property, including as part of an approved landscaping scheme. These would be detailed on applicable decision notices. Check the planning register for previous decisions.
- l) Do I need permission to create a crossover?
You will require planning permission for the crossover if building it involves:
creating an access on to a classified (main) road, demolishing a boundary wall more than one metre high in a conservation area.
- m) Do I need permission for a loft conversion/roof extension?
If your property is a flat or maisonette you will require planning permission for a loft conversion/roof extension. Permission will also be required for single house within a conservation area.
For a single house, outside of a conservation area, the erection of a roof extension can be permitted development if it meets the requirements set out in Class B and C GPDO. See further information on the Planning Portal about loft conversions/roof extensions.
- n) Can I apply for a parking permit?
Under Policy T4 of the Local Plan, if a site has a PTAL (Public Transport Accessibility Level, link TFL) rating of 3 or higher, we look to restrict the issuing of on-street parking permits to mitigate against parking stress and air quality issues. If you live within a property where such conditions apply, you would need to submit an application to vary the relevant conditions. We would then assess the acceptability of this with regard to site specific parking conditions.
- o) Can I convert my house into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO?
Converting a single-family home into a small-scale HMO of between 3-6 unrelated individuals who share kitchen/living room/ garden/ bathroom facilities) may not require planning permission.
An HMO with 7 or more individuals (a large-scale HMO) falls within a Sui Generis use and therefore requires a planning application.
- p) Can I build an additional storey onto my house?
Building an additional storey on to your house is considered to be permitted development (not requiring planning permission) subject to the following limits and conditions, and an application for the Local Authority’s prior approval.
If these limits and conditions are not met, then an application for Householder/Full Planning Permission will be required.
See further information on the Planning Portal which explains the limits and conditions for adding an additional storey/extending upwards
Conditions and prior approval requirements
As with existing permitted development rights, the developer must apply to us for prior approval of certain aspects of the proposed development. These include the impact of the amenity of any adjoining premises (including overlooking, privacy and the loss of light), the external appearance (including the design and architectural features of the principal and side elevation), and air traffic and defence asset impacts. A report detailing the management of the construction must also be provided to us.
- q) Can I demolish a house and rebuild?You will not need planning permission to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant commercial or residential buildings if they are re-built as homes. Instead a simplified application is required through the prior approval process.
Limitations and exclusions
If a development is to make use of the new PD right, the old building must:
- have a footprint of no larger than 1,000m2 and be no higher than 18m; have been built before 1990; not be within a conservation area, national park, area of outstanding natural beauty or a site of special scientific interest; and have been vacant for at least 6 months before the date of the application for prior approval.
- A report for the management and construction of the development must also be provided to the Council before beginning the development. This is to include the method of demolition, proposed hours of operation and how any adverse impact of noise, dust, vibration and traffic is to be mitigated. The position and dimensions of windows, doors and walls and the dimensions of each room must also be submitted to the Council.
- The right provides consent for works for the construction of a new building that can be up to two storeys higher than the old building with a maximum overall height of 18 metres. The demolition and subsequent construction must be completed within three years of the date of the grant of prior approval.
Conditions and prior approval requirements
The developer must apply for a prior approval of certain aspects of the proposed development. These include transport and highways impacts, contamination and flooding risks, the design and external appearance, the provision of natural light and impact of noise, business and local amenity.
Even if you don't need planning permission, you may need building regulations consent. To find out more about building regulations consent, see Building control.
- a) What is my use class and can I change it?
Please note the use classes were updated in September 2020.
If your proposal doesn't involve a change of use, you won’t need to apply for planning permission.
Detailed information can be found on the Planning Portal about use classes.
Some changes of use do not require planning permission. The Planning Portal has a full list of changes of use, both permanent and temporary.
If you would like to have a confirmation that the change of use is permitted without planning permission, you can apply for a Lawfulness Development Certificate.
If your proposal is for a change of use that is not permitted development, you will need to apply for full planning permission.
Even if the change if use is permitted, the external changes related to the change of use will need planning permission.
- b) Do I need permission to change from a café to a takeaway?
Yes, this is a material change of use and it involves a change from A3 to A5 use. If you would like to apply to make a change of use, you will need to make a planning application.
- c) Do I need permission to display advertisements on my shopfront?
Generally you will need to apply for advertisement consent. There are cases where you have ‘deemed consent’, but your advertising must:
- only refer to the business name, goods sold or services provided, or the name or qualification of the person conducting the business
- not be displayed in a conservation area
- not be displayed on shop walls unless they contain a shop window
- consist of no more than one parallel sign and one projecting sign
- not project over a carriageway
- have characters (not background) that are internally or halo illuminated
- have static illumination have luminance within our regulations
- have projecting signs no more than 0.75m2 with a maximum height of 1m
- project no more than 1m (or two-thirds the width of the footway)
- have fascia signs projecting no more than 0.25m from walls make up no more than one-sixth of the frontage up to 4.6m in height (or one-fifth of the frontage up to the top of the sign, if less)
- have symbol height of no more than 0.75m
- be no less than 2.5m above ground, and no more than 4.6m (or the bottom of the first floor windowsill, if lower)
- no more than a 0.25m gap between the two faces of a projecting sign.
For more specific information you can check the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (England) Regulations 2007.
- d) Do I need permission to install a canopy or an awning?
You will generally need to apply for a full planning application to install a new awning and canopy. If your proposal is to replace an existing awning or canopy the replacement needs to be like-for-like, or it will require planning permission.
- e) Do I need permission to install tables and chairs for my business?
You will need a highways permit to install tables and chairs, either on a public or private area.
Planning permission will be required if the tables and chairs will be in the public highway or a on privately maintained highway such as a forecourt which forms part of the highway and can be walked across by the public.
- f) Do I need permission to install CCTV cameras?
You will need to apply for full planning permission to install, change or replace a CCTV camera if:
- its dimensions will be greater than 75cm x 25cm x 25cm (including its housing)
- it will be positioned less than 2.5m from the ground
- it will protrude more than 1m from the wall
- it will be in contact with the surface of the property at a point more than 1m from any other point of contact
- it will be less than 10m from another camera on the property
- more than four cameras will be attached to the same side of the property in total
- more than 16 cameras will be attached to the whole property in total.
- a) Building Control
Even if your development has planning permission, or even if it does not require planning permission, you may still need building regulations consent.
For more information contact Building control on 020 8753 2448.
- b) Highways and car parking
- c) Party wall agreements
Party wall agreements and disputes fall outside of planning control. If you are concerned, contact your solicitor.
- d) Licensing
Licensing falls outside of planning control. Please see Licensing.
- e) Street naming and numbering
For a new address, or any address queries, contact street naming and numbering on 020 8753 3030 or 020 8753 3083.