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Our guide to understanding building and planning regulations

Building and planning regulations are essential safety mechanisms which have been designed to protect you, your neighbours and your local environment.

Planning Permission

Planning permission regulates the use, location and appearance of buildings and other structures. What might seem a minor alteration initially can have big implications. A structure that could obscure a driver’s vision near a junction, might be a traffic hazard. Equally, a local authority can refuse planning permission because the proposed scheme wouldn’t blend in with its surroundings. If you live in a listed building, you’ll need listed building consent for any significant exterior or interior works. Conservation areas also have stricter rules than normal.

Building Regulations

Building regulations focus on structural integrity and the suitability of the materials used. Most building works, including alterations or extensions, must meet certain standards to safeguard public health and safety – and, increasingly to guarantee satisfactory levels of insulation and energy efficiency. It’s important to remember that even when you don’t need planning permission, you might well need to take building regulations into account.

Permitted development rights

You can make certain changes to your home without the need to apply for planning permission. These permitted development rights were clarified and extended in October 2008 to cover a range of household building projects that used to automatically require an application for planning permission. You can now carry out these projects without having formal permission providing you meet the range of requirements. The projects include:

  • Extensions, conservatories, garages and outbuildings

  • Loft conversions

  • Solar roof panels

  • Roof alterations

  • Patios and driveways

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