Tom Wallace - Building Technology - Consents



Building projects generally require at least one of two main forms of consent prior to construction - Planning and Building Warrant.

Planning Consent is about the appearance of the building, generally just from the outside. It is also concerned with vehicle and pedestrian access, overshadowing and overlooking in relation to adjacent buildings, areas of garden ground, parking and trees. Planners will also look at the mix of building types within a particular location to determine whether a proposal is suitable.

Building Warrant is about the more technical matters of a building project such as structure, heating and insulation, plumbing, drainage and electrics.

If a property falls within a Conservation Area then even very minor works such as changing windows or doors will require Planning Consent. Internal works would not need a Planning Consent in this instance. There is a separate Conservation Area Consent application required for major changes such as partial or complete demolition or a new build project.

If a building is listed, then it will again require a full Planning application for minor works - even for some internal works. There is also a separate Listed Building Consent application required. Listed buildings can be Category A, B or C. Category A listed buildings are the ones regarded as the most historically significant so they require precise detailing in order to maintain the character of the building.

A commercial property that changes use, even if there are no other changes to the building, will require a Planning application. If the building becomes a café, restaurant, bar or place of entertainment, then a separate consent is needed from the council, after Planning and Warrant (if applicable) have been achieved. A shop or restaurant may also require an application for Advertisement Consent for signage over a certain size.

If a house is not in a Conservation Area and is not listed, then certain works can be carried out without consent. Please see:-

Householder Permitted Development Rights 2012

Generally, an extension to the rear or side of the house, below a certain size and height, can be constructed without Planning Consent. Other types of work are also covered by the guide and I give a more detailed description of exempted works for both Planning and Warrant further down this page.

Properties in rural locations are treated quite differently from those that fall within the boundaries of a settlement. In a rural context for instance, Planning Consent might be obtained for a building plot where there is evidence of a prior building, or an outbuilding may be converted to a house, or a new house can be added to an existing group of houses. In an urban context, the planners will be interested in the area of site available, potential for parking and how the building relates to boundaries and existing roads.

Where a vehicle access is provided to a new property, adequate sight lines for vehicles leaving the property must be provided. Sometimes this can be difficult to achieve. Many potential projects fail to progress simply because of this issue.

Where there is some doubt over whether a project requires Planning Consent, councils will sometimes provide free advice by telephone or by visiting the relevant Planning office in person. Increasingly though, councils have been introducing a more formal process for pre-application Planning advice, and some councils are now charging for this service.

Where a project proceeds on the basis that no Planning Consent is required, owners may sometimes wish to obtain evidence from the relevant council to indicate that the project has been assessed and that the council deems a formal consent to be unnecessary. This document is referred to as a Certificate of Lawfulness.

Outline Consent can be sought for some works. An Outline or 'Planning In Principle' Consent just indicates that a building of a certain size can be built on the site - sometimes with set conditions about parking spaces and other issues. A full consent will still be required before works can begin. Planning In Principle Consent is most usually acquired for a building plot that is subsequently sold. Obtaining the consent obviously greatly increases the likelihood of the plot obtaining a good price when it goes to market. The buyer should be very careful to examine any conditions attached to the consent and also to investigate the location of services and vehicle access as these can have a big impact on the potential build cost.

Planning Consents generally allow three years from the issue of the consent to the start of works on site. The council need to be informed of start date and of completion.

When a site for a new-build house has achieved Planning Consent, it is often possible to place a static caravan or other temporary structure on the site and to obtain an official address for the property at this stage if it does not already have one. The property would then become liable for council tax at the lowest rate, pending completion of the house. Provisions for services can also be arranged at this stage.

For domestic projects, an application for a new-build house costs £401. For an extension, or other small works to a dwelling, the fee is £202. For commercial projects the cost is based on the footprint area of the proposed building as well as areas of road, paved areas, decking etc. There is no fee for Listed Building Consent or Conservation Area Consent.

If a Planning application is withdrawn or refused, then a new application can be submitted without any further fees payable to the council provided the application is made within one year of the registration date of the initial application.

Some works are exempt from Building Warrant. These include outbuildings (such as Garages, Greenhouses, and Sheds) up to an area of thirty square metres and also extensions up to an area of eight square metres. (If heating is provided, then these exemptions do not apply.) A Conservatory (provided it meets the description provided in the Building Standards Regulations) also has less onerous requirements than a standard build extension. Building Warrant also allows an exemption for a hut with sleeping accommodation and with an area of up to 30 square metres, such as for private holiday accommodation. Such properties though will still require Planning Consent. Again, further information about exemptions are provided lower down this page.

Councils will offer some pre-application advice about Building Warrants, but usually this is fairly limited.

The Building Warrant application fee is related to the estimated cost of the building works, with a minimum fee of £150 for works up to a cost of £5,000. The council may seek verification of the estimated cost.

The Building Warrant will often need a Certificate of Design from a Structural Engineer in order to achieve consent. If this is provided at the time of the Warrant application then there is a deduction of around 10% off the price of the Warrant fee.

The Warrant allows for up to three years for the project to be completed. An extension to the duration of the Warrant can be obtained at a cost of £100 per six months.

The council must be informed of works starting on site.

The council may ask to inspect the work at various stages during the build process, especially for any structural works, drainage and for insulation.

At the end of the project, the council undertake a final inspection.

A Certificate of Completion must be applied for in relation to the Warrant. If the work differs significantly from the drawings provided at the time of the Warrant application then the council may require an Amendment to Warrant application to be submitted. The cost of this is £100 in all cases, unless the cost of the works has risen, in which case they may charge additional fees.

The council may request a Form Q Certificate for trussed rafters installed as part of the works.

For new build houses, a Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) will be required as part of the Building Warrant application to demonstrate the building’s over all energy performance in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. An ‘As Built’ Energy Performance Certificate will be required as part of the application for Certificate of Completion. Commercial buildings will also require the relevant energy calculations and certificate.

Works not requiring consent

Building projects generally require one or both of two types of consent - Planning Consent and Building Warrant. Some work is exempt however, and this section gives a brief summary as a guideline. There can often be a lot of variables involved in a project, so it is always best to check with a suitably qualified person or directly with the council before proceeding with any work.

For Planning, any work to a property, such as new external doors, windows, rooflights and small projections from the outer envelope of the building, such as canopies and sun shades, are exempt. However, balconies, or changes which would increase the internal area of the property - even if these works are less than one metres beyond the main walls of the house - would require a Planning Consent.

A small porch to the front of a property (that is, the side facing a road) is exempt from Planning provided that it is less than three square metres in area, less than three metres high and more than two metres back from a road or the boundary of the property.

Changes to the roof of a building - such as adding a dormer window - would be exempt from Planning provided that the proposed dormer(s) are not on a side of the building that faces to a road. Also, to be exempt, the proposed dormer(s) cover less than half of the area of roof on which it is placed, are more than ten metres from any boundary and are at least 30 centimetres from the verges, eaves and ridge of the roof.

Decking is exempt From Planning, provided that the total area does not exceed 25 square metres (or four square metres in a Conservation Area) and the height of the decking is not more than 50 centres above ground, with the height to any balustrading no more than 2.5 metres above ground.

A ramped access to a dwelling is exempt from Planning provided that the total length of ramps is less than five metres, the total length of ramps plus landings is less than nine metres and the maximum height of the ramp is less than 40 centimetres.

An outbuilding is exempt from Planning provided that it is not forward of the main house in relation to a road, is no more than three metres at eaves level and no more than four metres high at any point. Also, any part of the building that is within one metre boundary should not exceed 2.5 metres. If adding the outbuildings to the property means that the area of garden ground covered by outbuildings, extensions etc. is more than 50% then consent would be required. If the property is within a Conservation Area or is a Listed building, then the area of the outbuilding cannot exceed four square metres.

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