A common question put to us by our customers, whether they’re having their front door repaired, a new patio door installed, or they’re changing the type of garage door they have, is do I need planning permission?
Here at VPS247 we understand that this can be a concern when making improvements and changes to your home, but in the majority of cases no planning permission is needed. However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t check first, as the location of your home, the age of your home and what works you’re having completed can all have a bearing on whether a planning application is required, or if you’re even allowed to complete the improvements at all.
In some cases, the rules are different if you live in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, so it’s always beneficial to check with your local planning authority. In Scotland, this consists of one planning authority, but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, your local planning authority is likely to be your district/borough council or a National Park authority, depending on exactly where you live.
For England and Wales, you can use the government’s Planning Portal to find information and to manage any planning permission you may need. Welsh users will need to select their country from the top menu. In Scotland, you can use the Scottish government website. In Northern Ireland, you can use the Northern Ireland Planning Portal website. Any planning information contained within this article is based on information from Planning Portal England.
What is planning permission?
Planning permission has been around since 1st July 1948. Since this date, it’s been necessary for any new developments to have the proper permissions and meet certain criteria in order to be lawful. This means that you cannot build whatever you like on your land or change the use of a building (for example, from a residential home to a business premises) without gaining approval from your local authority first.
Your local authority takes many different things into account when looking at a planning proposal and will often approve planning applications on the basis that certain conditions are met. For example, your property may be situated in an important area for bats, so you may be required to incorporate a bat box into the building if it is going to be above a certain height. The look of your development may have to stay in keeping with other properties in the same area and you may be given a time limit within which to undertake the work. Every planning application is looked at on a case-by-case basis, as there are so many variables and possibilities — it is not a ‘one size fits all’ rulebook.
Of course, general upkeep, repairs and minor development do not require planning permission, but it’s not always clear what you can and cannot do — especially if your home is listed or situated in a conservation area or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . Additionally, many people are unaware that if you want to do work on a building which is not listed, but resides within the same grounds as a listed building, you may need special consent to do so.
You are doing insurance work on my home on a like-for-like basis — do I need planning permission?
Evander is the preferred contractor for most of the top 20 home insurance companies in the UK. This means that if you need to claim for repairs or replacements for your doors/windows/locks etc. under your home insurance policy, it’s likely that Evander will be sent to undertake the work. When it comes to completing repairs and replacing features on a like-for-like basis, planning permission is NOT needed. This is simply considered the upkeep of the property.
If you have suffered from a break-in or if damage has been done to your home leaving it insecure, (i.e. one or more doors/windows will no longer lock or glazing has been smashed) make sure you call your home insurer as soon as you can. Obviously it’s always best to call the police first when a crime has taken place. You DO NOT need to contact your local planning authority or wait for any approval in this instance.
You’re helping me with my new build — how long does planning permission last for?
We frequently install external doors, windows and garage doors to new-build properties. Often, we’ll come in after most of the work has been done to help add these essential finishing touches, so planning permission will have already been approved for the new building. If you have had a planning application approved, then you have 3 years (unless your documentation states otherwise) from the date it was granted to begin the work.
If it has been 3 years or more and work is yet to begin, you will need to reapply for permission, or alternatively you may be able to apply for an extension, giving you more time to act.
I need to apply for planning permission — how long does it take?
If you have contacted your local authority and you’ve been told you DO need planning permission in order to complete the work on your property, then you’ll need to begin the application process. This can be done online or in person — visit your local planning website (listed in the introduction of this article) to find out what you need to do.
The length of time it takes to process planning applications can vary depending on where you’re based and how many planning applications your local authority currently has in the pipeline. However, 8 weeks is the usual limit and it shouldn’t take longer than this.
Do I need planning permission for doors and windows?
When it comes to having work done on your (external) doors and windows, you do not usually need planning permission for repairs, maintenance, like-for-like replacements, or replacements which are made from a different material but similar in appearance to the original doors/windows.
For instance, a homeowner who has white uPVC windows at present may want to replace them with a more
uPVC Bay Window environmentally friendly and hardwearing material. The homeowner could have aluminium-framed windows installed in the same colour and not have to obtain planning permission as the windows would essentially look the same. In many cases, a different colour of window frame would not need planning permission either, but this could depend on the rules in your area, so you may want to check first.
In rare cases, planning permission may be needed when replacing doors and windows. This may be because the property in question is a listed building or because the property is located in a conservation area or within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty . If you are unsure, or if you know your home falls into one of these categories, it’s best to check with your local planning authority. You may find that nothing needs to be done at all, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry, as breaking planning law can come with a hefty fine. What’s more, you’ll need to reverse all of the work that’s already been done.
Please note: If you’re having a new bay window installed (to replace a previously ‘flat’ window) this is treated as an ‘extension’ by many local authorities and you are likely to need planning permission to do this legally. If you are replacing an existing bay window with a new one you do not need to apply for planning permission.
Do I need planning permission for a conservatory?
Usually, conservatories do not need planning permission as long as they stay within certain guidelines. A list of the various conditions you need to meet to ensure it does not require a planning application can be found on the Planning Portal conservatory page. Here at Evander we do not build new conservatories, but we can repair them and we can also convert them into more useable rooms by adding a solid roof.
Many homeowners are finding that their conservatory is only really useable for half of the year, as the glazed roof can make it extremely hot in the summer and chilly in the winter. Adding a solid roof helps to regulate the temperature inside, allowing the space to be used all year round.
In the past, a certain percentage of conservatory roofs had to be glazed for them to be exempt from planning permission, but changes have been made to the rules surrounding this in recent years. If you live on what planning authorities call ‘designated land’ — which includes national parks, the Norfolk Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites — then you may need permission to add a solid roof to your conservatory. In some areas, this may not be permitted at all, so it’s important that you check before taking any further steps.
Do I need planning permission for a porch?
Whether you want to add a full porch to your property or you simply want a door canopy to keep off the rain, planning permission is not usually required. If you want to build a full porch (where a small area at the front of your home becomes enclosed and your front door is situated further out than it was originally) then there are a handful of conditions to meet in order for it to be exempt from requiring planning permission. You can view those requirements on a handy animated guide in the Planning Portal porch section.
Whether you need planning permission or not, you’ll still need to work within building regulations. Building regulations ensure that the materials you are using are thermally efficient enough to meet energy efficiency guidelines. The best way to ensure your home improvements comply with these regulations is to choose a registered installer (for glazing, an installer should be registered with FENSA, for example) and ensure that the actual products themselves have been built to British Standards. Always avoid cowboy builders if you can and do your research before enlisting anyone to do work on your home.
If you’d like to discuss any concerns about planning permission or building regulations, or if you have any questions, please let us know when registering your interest in any of our products and services. Alternatively, you’re welcome to call 0345 145 0130 or use this Contact Form at any time.
Please note: This article is not meant to be taken as legal advice. If you are unsure about whether you require planning permission, please check with your local authority in the first instance. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to ensure all planning requirements are met before work commences.