The Difference between Planning Permission and Building Regulations Approval

Ever wondered about the difference between planning permission and building regulations approval?

Very often home owners, business owners and property developers are confused by the need to obtain approval from the council for their building work. Does this sound like you?

The fact is that Planning applications and Building Regulations (Building Control) applications are considered under different laws.

  • So what is the difference between planning application and building control application?
  • Do you need to make both applications for your project?

Here’s the answer: Planning permission covers the principles of development assessing whether the development will accord with local and national policies and whether it would cause unacceptable harm, for example, to neighbours’ amenities, whereas the building regulations cover the structural aspects of development and progress throughout the construction.

So… When you make a planning application you are seeking permission to enable you to carry out development. On the other hand, when you make a building regulations application you are seeking to have the details of your development checked and approved for compliance with the standards of construction. That is the main difference between planning permission and building regulations.

Planning permission and building regulations approval (building control) are different and they are two separate pieces of legislation. Sometimes you may need both; sometimes you may only require one; or none at all. Because the planning legislation is distinctly different from building control legislation, it should not to be assumed that one grants consent for another.

What is Planning Permission?

Planning permission controls the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land and buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

The government gives Local Planning Authorities the power to manage where people build and what they do with land. The Development Management team of Local Planning Authorities handle planning permission applications.

Planning permission is needed for most types of new development or changes to the use of land. Conservation areas and listed buildings also have specific requirements. So it is always best to consult an architecture company before taking the step forward.

How to make a Planning Permission application?

When making a planning application, it is important to make sure that a fully completed set of forms is submitted. Accurate scale drawings should accompany all applications. These should include Full set of Planning Drawings, Design & Access Statement Report and Duly Completed Application Form.

The drawings should indicate all architectural features including walls, windows, doors, rooms, building and ceiling heights and materials. A Design and Access Statement report is also required with planning applications for most types of new developments or change of uses to justify how design standards and planning policies are met.

But here’s the funny thing: In addition to the Government’s national requirements, most of the councils have different local requirements for applications of a particular type, scale or location. You must include all the necessary information with your planning application. If you do not, your application cannot be validated.

Securing planning permission is NOT rocket science but it imperative to seek professional help from an architect when preparing Planning applications. No matter how good your own design instincts, a qualified professional, an architect or a planner, will help you avoid major mistakes and handle the complex technical questions associated with your application.

What is Building Regulations (Building Control) approval?

Building regulations (building control) are standards that apply to all buildings to make sure they are safe for people who are in or around them. The Regulations are a series of Approved Documents covering the technical aspects of construction work.

Most building work whether new, alterations or extensions or change of use require building regulations approval. Examples of when building control approval is required include but not limited to building extensions and loft conversions, converting garages into a habitable room, carrying out certain structural alterations, installing cavity insulation, changing the use of a property, underpinning and carrying out drainage works.

How to make a Building Regulations (Building Control) application?

Each local council in England has a building control section. The local council has a general duty to see that building work complies with the building regulations.

As an alternative to gaining approval from Local Authorities, the Government has introduced legislation to allow private Approved Inspectors to check work requiring building Regulations approval. You are free to choose which type of building Control Body you use on your project.

Let’s dive in…

There are two ways you can make a building regulations application, either by making a Full Plans application or by submitting a Building Notice notification. A Full Plans application will consist of detailed plans and full specifications of the construction details together with the appropriate fee.

Or you would use a Building Notice if you are doing simple work to a domestic building. A Building Notice application doesn’t generally require the submission of detailed plans or full specifications of the construction details. However, you will not receive the protection and reassurance that an Approved Plan would give you, and the whole process of making sure your work complies with the building regulations is carried out at the site inspection stage.

Now: Whether you are renovating your home from scratch, converting your property, or simply adding an extension, you will need a structural engineer proficient in preparing your structural drawings, calculations and specifications for your building regulations application.

What is the difference between Building Regs and Planning Permission?

If you want to renovate a new home, there is a good chance you will need some form of permission before starting any building work.

 There are two main types of permission, Building Regulations (building regs) and Planning Permissions and if you are doing any extension work, you may need both.

 Building Regulations set the minimum standard for the design and construction of buildings to ensure that any work has been done correctly. They cover safety standards for the construction of everything from staircases and chimneys to the heating efficiency of boilers and providing access facilities for the disabled. You may need building regulation approval to cover work on your home both internally and externally.

Planning Permission or Building Regulations

 Planning Permissions are more about the external appearance of the building and making sure any landscaping considerations are in keeping with the local environment. Ultimately, Planning Permissions are there to avoid architectural ‘eyesores’ and oversized extensions being built that would be ‘out-of-keeping’ in an area.

 Both are legally required and must be submitted to your local council before beginning any work. Failure to comply could lead to a fine.

 What are Building Regulations?

Before you carry out any building work, you or your builder/architect/surveyor must submit full plans for approval to your local council’s building control team or through the buildings notice procedure. Some examples of what building regulations cover, include:

  • Structural stability of a building.
  • Correct Fire Safety measures including fire escapes.
  • Ensuring a building is water and weather tight.
  • The use of toxic substances in cavity fill insulation systems.
  • Levels of sound insulation between buildings and rooms.
  • Technical design standards for sanitary pipework and drainage.
  • Underpinning the foundations of a building.
  • The design, installation, inspection and testing of electrical installations. 

What is Planning Permission?

If you are planning to build a new home or alter the appearance or scope of your home, getting planning permission is one of the first hurdles you will have to face. They are many different types of permission and your architect or builder will be able to help you determine which ones apply to your property project.

 The main types of Planning Permission include:

Householder Planning Consent – Required for extensions, conservatories, loft conversions, dormer windows, garages and out buildings.

Full Planning Consent – Required if you are planning on changing the number of dwellings on the site, or changing the use of a property. You do not need planning permission for many internal renovations.

Outline Planning Consent – Find out if the scale and scope of your plans are likely to be approved in principal before you commit to any substantial costs.

Planning Permission in a Conservation Area – If you live in a conservation area, you will need planning permission before any relevant demolition of property.

Listed Building Consent – If your property is a building, object or structure judged to be of national architectural or historical interest, then you will be subject to extra conditions before any work can begin.

Lawful Development Certificate – For peace of mind that an existing or proposed work is lawful, or that you do not need planning permission, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate or LDC.

Retrospective Planning Permission – If you have made changes to your property without getting planning permission, you can make a retrospective planning application for work you have already carried out.


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