Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our Frequently Asked Questions page.

If you have a question or query that is not addressed on this page, please contact us directly and speak to a senior member of the team.

    Questions Addressing Planning Permission

  • What is Planning Permission?
    • Planning permission is the consent to carry out a development in accordance with the law as detailed under the Town and Country Planning Act. Planning permission is granted through a decision notice issued by a local authority’s planning department.

      Planning permission is often addressed as a consent to build a development however, will not be the only consent required to build as a development will be subject to Building Control requirements, Party Wall, and potentially other legal obligations dependant on the development type. Obtaining planning permission is normally the first step before proceeding to obtain all other statutory or conditional consents.

  • What are the planning permission types available?
    • Planning permission routes are commonly split between two paths:

      1. Full Planning Permission
      2. Lawful Development

      These two paths lead into various other planning submission types as follows:

      Full Planning Permission:

      • Full Planning Consent
      • Householders Consent

      Lawful Development:

      • Lawful development for a proposed use
      • Lawful development for an existing use

      Other type of consent:

      • Advertisement consent
      • Listed Building Consent
      • Demolition in a conservation area
      • Outline planning consent
      • Reserved Matters
      • Prior notification
      • Removal/variation of conditions
      • Approval of conditions
      • Consent under Tree Preservation Orders
      • Notification of proposed works to trees in conservation areas
      • Application for non-material amendments
  • What are the Planning Use Classes?
    • Planning use classes are used to classify developments into a simple letter with a number.

      Planning Use classes are as follows:

      Part A

      A1SHOPSShops, retail warehouses, hairdressers, undertakers, travel and ticket agencies, post offices, pet shops, sandwich bars, showrooms, domestic hire shops, dry cleaners, funeral directors and internet cafes.
      A2FINANCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL SERVICESFinancial services such as banks and building societies, professional services (other than health and medical services) and including estate and employment agencies. It does not include betting offices or pay day loan shops – these are now classed as “sui generis” uses (see below).
      A3RESTAURANTS AND CAFESFor the sale of food and drink for consumption on the premises – restaurants, snack bars and cafes.
      A4DRINKING ESTABLISHMENTSPublic houses, wine bars or other drinking establishments (but not night clubs) including drinking establishments with expanded food provision.
      A5HOT FOOR TAKEAWAYSFor the sale of hot food for consumption off the premises

      Part B

      B1BUSINESSOffices (other than those that fall within A2), research and development of products and processes, light industry appropriate in a residential
      B2GENERAL INDUSTRIALUse for industrial process other than one falling within class B1 (excluding incineration purposes, chemical treatment or landfill or hazardous waste).
      B8STORAGE OR DISTRIBUTIONThis class includes open air storage.

      Part C

      C1HOTELSHotels, boarding and guest houses where no significant element of care is provided (excludes hostels).
      C2RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONSResidential care homes, hospitals, nursing homes, boarding schools, residential colleges and training centres.
      C2ASECURE RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONSUse for a provision of secure residential accommodation, including use as a prison, young offenders institution, detention centre, secure training centre, custody centre, short term holding centre, secure hospital, secure local authority accommodation or use as a military barracks.
      C3(a)DWELLING HOUSESCovers use by a single person or a family (a couple whether married or not, a person related to one another with members of the family of one of the couple to be treated as members of the family of the other), an employer and certain domestic employees (such as an au pair, nanny, nurse, governess, servant, chauffeur, gardener, secretary and personal assistant), a carer and the person receiving the care and a foster parent and foster child.
      C3(b)DWELLING HOUSESUp to six people living together as a single household and receiving care e.g. supported housing schemes such as those for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems.
      C3(c)DWELLING HOUSESAllows for groups of people (up to six) living together as a single household. This allows for those groupings that do not fall within the C4 HMO definition, but which fell within the previous C3 use class, to be provided for i.e. a small religious community may fall into this section as could a homeowner who is living with a lodger.
      C4HOUSES IN MULTIPLE OCCUPATION (HMO)small shared houses occupied by between three and six unrelated individuals, as their only or main residence, who share basic amenities such as a kitchen or bathroom.

      Part D

      D1NON-RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTIONSClinics, health centres, crèches, day nurseries, day centres, schools, art galleries (other than for sale or hire), museums, libraries, halls, places of worship, church halls, law court. Non residential education and training centres.
      D2ASSEMBLY AND LEISURECinemas, music and concert halls, bingo and dance halls (but not night clubs), swimming baths, skating rinks, gymnasiums or area for indoor or outdoor sports and recreations (except for motor sports, or where firearms are used).

      Sui Generis

      SUI GENERISCertain uses do not fall within any use class and are considered ‘sui generis’. Such uses include: betting offices/shops, pay day loan shops, theatres, larger houses in multiple occupation, hostels providing no significant element of care, scrap yards. Petrol filling stations and shops selling and/or displaying motor vehicles. Retail warehouse clubs, nightclubs, launderettes, taxi businesses and casinos.

  • What is Full Planning Permission?
    • An application for ‘Full Planning Permission’ is made for all works where you are not extending or altering a single-family dwelling.

      This is typically for building, subdividing, carrying out a change of use, engineering or other works, in, over, on or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.

      Typical types of development include:

      • Any works relating to a flat
      • Applications to change the number of dwellings, including conversions into flats.
      • Creating a new residential dwelling.
      • Change of use to residential or commercial, to all or part of a property.
      • Development on land
  • What is Full Planning Permission – Householder consent?
    • An application for ‘Full Planning Permission – Householder consent’ is made where you are seeking to alter or enlarge a single family dwelling house, including works within the boundary or the garden of a house.

      Typical types of developments include:

      • Extensions
      • Conservatories
      • Loft conversions
      • Basements
      • Outbuildings
      • Garages
      • Changes to new build dwellings

      Please note:

      • If you have a single-family dwelling and are seeking to subdivide into flats, this will require Full Planning permission.
      • Some developments can be carried out under lawful development, please read more under the lawful development section.
  • What is a Lawful Development Certificate (often referred to as permitted development)?
    • Lawful development is applicable to both residential and commercial developments. It is often used to simplify developments however the process if often complex, and eligibility must first be confirmed.

      Addressing this question, we will start of by saying that a Lawful Development Certificate is not ‘Planning Permission’. It is a legal document stating the lawfulness of past, present or future building use, operations, or other matters. If granted by the local planning authority, the certificate means that enforcement action cannot be carried out to the development referred to in the certificate.

      Works are often preferred to be carried out under a lawful development certificate, as in some cases policies relevant to ‘Lawful Development’ will permit more than what can be achieved under the ‘Full Planning’ route.

      Applications for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’ typically come in two forms:

      • An application for a proposed development, that would be deemed lawful.
      • An application for a historical or completed development, that would be deemed lawful.
  • What is a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’ for a Proposed Use of Operation
    • This is for proposed developments, operations, changes of use that would be deemed lawful

      If you have a development or proposed change of use that achieves compliance with the technical standards for ‘Permitted development, and the standards set under the ‘General Permitted Development Order’, an application for a Lawful Development Certificate should be used to establish whether the development would be lawful.

      A list of some common developments that can be carried out under lawful development (subject to eligibility and compliance with the relevant policies) are as follows:

      Residential Developments

      • Loft conversions
      • Single storey ground floor extensions to the rear and side
      • Double storey extensions
      • Change if use to C4 (House of Multiple Occupancy)
      • Outbuildings
      • Changes to windows and fenestration
      • Painting a building
      • Hardstandings

      It should be noted that even though the intention of carrying out works under permitted development is to simplify the planning process, mistakes are often made by architects, builders, developers and homeowners on eligibility. Furthermore, if you live in a conservation area or an area under an Article 4 Direction, you will have aspects of permitted development removed. It is therefore always recommended that a lawful development certificate be obtained prior to carrying out works.

      Developing under permitted development is often complex. With the wrong advice or lack of understanding of the planning process, you may find yourself with an unlawful development or a development that has not maximised its development potential.

      A development to a building can at times utilise more than one avenue under permitted development however, combining two different types of permitted development can be unlawful. Where you are seeking to combine more than one type of permitted development, or even do that and combining it will full planning permission, see our ‘Planning Strategies’ section.

      Commercial developments

      We summarise common and typical scenarios for change of use that can be carried out under lawful development in the table below.

      TYPICAL PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT CHANGE OF USE SCENARIOS
      FROMTO
       
      A1ShopsA2 
      A3Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
      D2D2 up to 200m2 and subject to Prior Approval and only if the premises was in A1 use on 5th December 2013
      MIXED USEA mixed use comprising an A1 or A2 use and up to 2 flats may also be permitted subject to meeting certain conditions
      C3up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval.
       
      A2Professional and financial services – when premises have a display window at ground level, but excluding betting offices or pay day loan shopsA1
      A3Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
      D2Subject to Prior Approval and only if the premises was in A2 use on 5th December 2013
      MIXED USEComprising an A1 or A2 use and up to 2 flats may also be permitted subject to meeting certain conditions
      C3Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
       
      A3Restaurants and cafesA1
      A2
       
      A4Drinking EstablishmentsA4 with A3Drinking Establishments with A3 (restaurants and Cafes)
       
      A5Hot food takeawaysA1
      A2
      A3
       
      A4 with A3Drinking establishments with restaurants and cafesA4Drinking Establishments
       
      B1BusinessB8Storage and distribution. Change of use to applicable to premises no larger than 500m2
       
      B2General IndustrialB1Business
       
      B2General IndustrialB8Storage and distribution. Change of use to applicable to premises no larger than 500m2
       
      B8Storage and distributionB1Business. Change of use to applicable to premises no larger than 500m2
       
      C3Dwellings. Subject to prior approval.
       
      C3DwellingsC4Small houses in multiple occupation (HMO)
       
      C4Small houses in multiple occupation (HMO)C3Dwellings.
       
      SUI GENERISCasinosD2Assembly and leisure
      A3Restaurants and Cafes Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
      C3Dwellings Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
       
      SUI GENERISBetting offices and pay day loan shopsA1
      A2
      C3Dwellings Up to 150m2 and subject to Prior Approval
      Mixed useA mixed use comprising a betting office or a pay day loan shop, or an A1 or A2 use and up to 2 flats subject to certain conditions.
      D2
       
      SUI GENERISAgricultural buildingsA1Subject to meeting relevant criterial and Prior Approval.
      A2
      A3
      B1
      B8
      C1
      C3
      D2

      Please note that policies on lawful development is often being updated, the data provided is relevant as of August 2018, sourced from the Planning Portal.

      It should be noted that even though the intention of carrying out works under permitted development is to simplify the planning process, mistakes are often made by architects, builders, developers and homeowners on eligibility. Furthermore, if you live in a conservation area or an area under an Article 4 Direction, you will have aspects of permitted development removed. It is therefore always recommended that a lawful development certificate be obtained prior to carrying out works.

      Developing under permitted development is often complex. With the wrong advice or lack of understanding of the planning process, you may find yourself with an unlawful development or a development that has not maximised its development potential.

      A development to a building or premises can at times utilise more than one avenue under permitted development however, combining two different types of permitted development can be unlawful. Where you are seeking to combine more than one type of permitted development, or even do that and combining it will full planning permission, see our ‘Planning Strategies’ section.

  • What is a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’ for an existing development?
    • This is for existing or recently completed developments without planning permission, or a lawful development certificate.

      If you have a development or change of use that is historical or recently completed without planning consent, or development in breach of a planning condition, an application for a Lawful Development Certificate should be used to establish whether it is lawful.

      Typical scenarios where an application for a Lawful Development Certificate should be made include:

      • when planning enforcement action is taken by the local planning authority on a development, and the owner believes it is immune from action because of the time limit for taking enforcement action has passed (see our section on ‘Established Use’ for more information)
      • when selling property or land, the owner discovers that planning permission has never been granted, and needs to show a prospective purchaser that the works are lawful in order to confirm that no enforcement action can be taken by the local planning authority

      Applying for a Lawful Development Certificate on a development retrospectively is a complex process, with the wrong advice, you can at times make a bad development worse.

      If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, we recommend calling MSK Design to discuss how to bring your development into compliance.

  • What happens if I do not apply for Planning Approval?
    • Obtaining Planning Consent is a legal requirement under The Town and Country Planning Act.

      If you do not apply for Planning Approval approval and your development is not compliant under lawful development (without certification), you will be breaking the law.

      It should be noted that many people carry out works either not knowing that Planning Consent is required, and others that find themselves in a position where they have gone outside the critical dimensions and criteria of ‘Lawful Development’.

      In the event where the local authority serves an enforcement notice or writes to you over the failure to Planning Approval, you will need specialist advise on the best way to remedy your situation.

      Depending on the development, you will need to apply for either retrospective planning consent, or a lawful development certificate for an existing use. Both routes are addressed very differently, and you will need someone with experience to guide you through the options. At MSK Design, over the past 10 years we have assisted many homeowners and developers who have found themselves in this situation, the chances are that we have already addressed a scenario like yours.

      In some cases and depending on what has been carried out, works can be justified or modified to achieve compliance, you will however need specialist planning advice to work out the best and efficient way forward.

      Speaking directly to your local authorities Planning Department is often the first call however, this will not be an easy phone call and they will often only tell you where you have gone wrong. If you find yourself in this situation and you need to speak to someone that would take a positive and proactive approach towards solving this issue, call MSK Design and tell us you have a Planning Compliance issue.

  • Questions Addressing Building Control

  • Is Planning Permission or a Planning Approval the same as Building Control Approval?
    • Definitely not.

      Both are different consents addressing different Acts of Law.

      Both are a legal requirement however Building Control approval is obtained at the end of a development whereas Planning Approval is obtained before a development has begun.

  • What are Building Regulations and who is Building Control?
    • Any works carried out to a building or premises involving extensions, alterations, changes or use or new build will be required to comply with requirements of The Building Act. The building regulations is a framework of policies, standards and guidelines on how to achieve compliance under The Act.

      Compliance is detailed under the ‘Approved Documents’, which are published by The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

      The approved documents also makes reference to other standards including the British Standards.

      Building Control is the body appointed to inspect and certify development works that are ‘notifiable’ under The Act. A Building Control inspector can be appointed either at the local authority’s Building Control Department, or through an Approved Inspector. The use of Approved Inspectors is now more common in all developments however, where enforcement action is being carried out, the local authority’s Building Control Department are the only body that can undertake retrospective works.

      Prior to a development being carried out, the following must be undertaken

      1. A full plans submission to a Building Control Inspector, in order to determine compliance with the building regulations.
      2. Confirmation of Full Plans Approval ideally prior to the commencement of works.
      3. Where an Approved Inspector is being used, notification to the Local Authority of no less than 5 working days of the commencement days of works.

      Once works on site have commenced, the contractor will be required to notify the Building Control Inspector at certain stages of the development for inspection. They may include:

      1. Inspection of ground to footings/foundations prior to pouring concrete
      2. Installation of underground services and drainage
      3. Installation of DPC and membranes
      4. Installation of insulation and ventilation
      5. Installation of steel work
      6. Installation of timber
      7. Installation of roof lining
      8. Installation of windows
      9. Installation of electrics
      10. Installation of fire safety measures
      11. Final inspection on completion

      Only developments to outbuildings under 30m2 can be completed without building control approval. A development completed without building control approval may be subject to enforcement action, may be deemed a safety risk, and may also invalidate your buildings insurance.

  • Can I use my planning drawings for submission to the building control inspector?
    • The drawings prepared at planning stage will not address any technical detailing for compliance under the approved documents or any relevant standard or British standard.

      At MSK Design, we do often apply an integrated approach to anticipate and facilitate building control requirements however, the drawing set for the building control submission will typically be prepared once planning consent is obtained.

  • Why are the drawings for the Building Control Submission prepared after planning consent is gained?
    • At MSK Design, it is recommended that the preparation of technical drawings, specifications and structural calculations are prepared after planning consent has been obtained. This is recommended to ensure that costs are not wasted on designs that need to be changed due to planning consent requirements.

      In certain cases this can be done in parallel or immediately after the planning submission when:

      1. MSK Design advises that planning consent is guaranteed
      2. The works are to be carried out under Lawful Development, and MSK advises that a lawful development certificate will be obtained
      3. The tender process is required to start promptly after submission, and the client has requested for MSK to do all that is possible to facilitate an approval.
      4. In the case of works under lawful development, the building works is due to start and the client has requested for MSK to do all that is possible to facilitate certification.

      If you are in a scenario that is not listed above, call MSK Design and speak to a senior member of the team on how we can help you.

  • What happens if I do not apply for Building Regulation Approval?
    • Obtaining Building Control Approval is a legal requirement under The Building Act.

      If you do not apply for Building Regulation approval and your development is not an outbuilding with a floor area of less than 30m2, you will be breaking the law.

      It should be noted that many people carry out works either not knowing that Building Control Approval is required, and others that find themselves in a position where they will not be able to obtain a completion certificate confirming compliance with the Building Regulations.

      In the event where the local authority serves a notice or writes to you over the failure to obtain Building Control Approval, you will need specialist advise on the best way to remedy your situation.

      This matter is often resolved through the submission of a retrospective application for Building Control approval however, before doing this, you should have an appraisal carried out on what has been carried out, and clarification on its chances for compliance approval. In some cases, minor alterations can be carried out prior to submission to enable an approval.

      Speaking directly to your local authorities Building Control Department is often the first call however, speaking to them will not be easy and they will often only tell you where you have gone wrong. If you find yourself in this situation and you need to speak to someone that would take a positive and proactive approach towards solving this issue, call MSK Design and tell us you have a Building Control issue.