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 windows or doors in your property if the replacement windows do not match the original windows.
The materials used in any exterior work must be of a similar appearance.
If the materials used and/or the method of opening are not similar to the original windows then planning permission would be required.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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 require planning permission to make a basement or roof extension. This includes loft extension and the installation of lightwells.
Following an Article 4 direction in April 2018, you now need full planning permission to create or extend the basement.
To check our current planning regarding basements and roof extensions, please see pages 187 to 190 of the Local Plan (pdf). See also pages 64 to 69 of the Planning Guidance - Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) (pdf)
- 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.
- 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 to obtain confirmation that the proposed works fall under permitted development rights.
- 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.
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 the council’s permission to prune or remove a tree unless:
- It is protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) in which case you need to obtain the council’s prior consent for the proposed works to the tree by making an application for TPO tree works consent;
- It is in a conservation area and not subject to a TPO, in which case you will need to give us six weeks prior written notice about the proposed works to the tree;
- It is required to be retained by a condition on an implemented planning permission at the property, including as part of an approved landscaping scheme.
More information about trees and TPOs is available on the Urban Design and Heritage Team webpage.
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) 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.
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 cafes
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.
Certain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered ‘sui generis’.
Such uses include:
- hostels providing no significant element of care
- scrap yards
- petrol filling stations
- shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles
- retail warehouse clubs
- taxi businesses
- amusement centres
There are certain permitted changes of use that doesn't need planning permission. Please see below for more information.
You don't need planning permission to change from:
- A2 (professional and financial services) to A1 (shop) when the premise has a display window at ground level
- A3 (restaurants and cafes) to A1 (shop)
- A4 (drinking establishments) to A1 or A2 or A3
- B1 (business) to B8 (storage and distribution) - permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space
- B2 (general industrial) to B1 (business)
- B2 (general industrial) to B8 (storage and distribution) - permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space
- B8 (storage and distribution) to B1 (business) - permission limited to change of use relating to not more than 500 square metres of floor space
- Casinos (sui generis) to 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).
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:
- 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.