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.)

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Common householders and flats projects

  • a) Do I need permission to change or replace windows?

    You will need planning permission to change any windows or doors in a flat or maisonette.

    You usually don’t need planning permission for such changes in a house. However, this depends on whether your property is covered by an Article 4 direction which removes permitted development rights.

    Article 4 directions

    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 apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development.

    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 dwelling house or a flat. Search on the ‘property’ tab of the Public Access 

  • b) Do I need permission to install satellite dishes?

    You need planning permission to put up a satellite dish in a flat or any other premise.

    It might be possible to put up a satellite dish without the need for planning permission in a house, under permitted development rights.

    Permitted Development Rights

    You can apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development to get 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.

    Make a planning application 

  • d) Do I need permission to erect a garden shed and / or an outbuilding?

    You will need to apply for planning permission to erect a garden shed or an outbuilding for a flat.

    For a house, the erection of a garden shed or an outbuilding can be permitted development if it complies with the rules.

    Permitted Development Rights

    If the property is in a Conservation Area, you will need 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 or roof extension?

    If your property is a flat or maisonette, you will need planning permission to make a basement or roof extension. This includes loft extension and the installation of lightwells.

    If your property is a single house, you don’t need to make a planning application to create or extend a basement as long as this is limited to the existing footprint of the house and the use of this is space is ancillary to the main house. If you want to use the basement as an independent living unit, you will require planning permission. This also applies for houses in conservation areas. If the basement extension requires a lightwell or any external alterations to the house, you will need planning permission.

    To check our current planning regarding basements and roof extensions, please visit:

    Local Development Framework

    To check if your proposal for basement or roof extension fall under permitted development rights (only applies for single houses and not flats or maisonettes) please visit:

    Permitted Development Rights

  • 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:   

    1. they are the person who is liable to pay council tax for the property;  
    2. 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.

  • g) Do I need permission to install a solar panel?

    It is generally possible for single houses or a building of flats to install solar panels without planning permission. However, the location of the solar panel should be such as to minimize the effect on amenities or the visual of the area.

    You can make an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development in order to obtain confirmation that the proposed works fall under permitted development rights. You can make an application via www.planningportal.gov.uk/apply

  • h) Do I need permission to change or replace boundaries, fences and railings?

    You don’t need planning permission 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 erect a new boundary wall, fence, railings or gate that exceeds 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.

  • 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.

    A proposal to install flues, pipes and chimneys in a house might be Permitted Development if the proposal is not 1m higher than the highest part of the roof.

    Permitted Development Rights

    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, you will need to apply for a full planning permission to create a hardstanding surface. In the case of a house, you will require to apply for a householder application 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 in a conservation area; in which case you will need to give us six weeks notice about the proposed works to the tree.

    Some trees are protected and you’ll need planning permission to prune or remove them. These are known as Tree Preservation Orders (TPO) and you can find more information through our Urban Design and Conservation team.

    Information of the Urban Design and Conservation team on trees

Important

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.

Common business projects

  • a) How can I know if I am changing the use of a property?

    If your proposal doesn't involve a change of use, you won’t need to apply for planning permission. Please see below for general businesses as classified by the use class.

    Use class General businesses associated to this use
    A1 Shops Shops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices (but not sorting offices), pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes
    A2 Financial and professional services Financial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) including estate and employment agencies and betting offices
    A3 Restaurants and cafés For the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises - restaurants, snack bars and cafes
    A4 Drinking establishments Public houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs)
    A5 Hot food takeaways For the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises

    Important

    Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered ‘sui generis’ .

    Such uses include:

    • theatres
    • hostels providing no significant element of care
    • scrap yards
    • petrol filling stations
    • shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles
    • retail warehouse clubs
    • nightclubs
    • launderettes
    • taxi businesses
    • amusement centres
    • casinos.

     

    There are certain permitted changes of use that doesn't need planning permission. Please see below for more information.

    From To
    A2 (professional and financial services) when premises have a display window at ground level A1 (shop)
    A3 (restaurants and cafes) A1 (shop)
    A4 (drinking establishments) A1 or A2 or A3
    B1 (business) (permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space) B8 (storage and distribution)
    B2 (general industrial) B1 (business)
    B2 (general industrial) (permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space) B8 (storage and distribution)
    B8 (storage and distribution) (permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space) B1 (business)
    Casinos (sui generis) D2 (assembly and leisure)

    If your proposal is for a change of use that is not permitted development, you will need to apply for full planning permission. 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 (LDC).

    Make a planning application

    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 visit:

    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.

    Find more information on tables and chairs highway permits

    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.

    Make a planning application

  • 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

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