All posts by Planning House

Oh No I Don’t have Planning Permission!

Northern Insight Magazine have published our latest article on the perils of selling a house without planning permission in place for works carried out and what options are available.

The removal van was booked and champagne on ice ready to celebrate the start of a new chapter. It therefore came as a bit of a surprise to a client that planning permission was required for historic works carried out at their property and that this could potentially scupper their house sale.

As background, I was contacted recently by someone in the final stages of selling their home, after they were requested to provide proof that they had (or didn’t need) planning permission for works they carried out. They approached their Local Planning Authority (LPA) who convinced them to submit a pre-application enquiry, then after several weeks were told planning permission was required and that they MUST apply for retrospective planning permission or a Certificate of Lawfulness of Existing Use or Development (CLEUD). Naturally they were anxious and confused.

In this case the works had been carried out 14 years ago and whilst having the relevant paperwork in place is preferred, there are a few things to keep in mind. The salient point is the length of time the works had been completed.

In most cases an authorised development becomes immune from enforcement action if no action is taken:
• Within 4 years of substantial completion for a breach of control consisting of operational development, i.e. building works;
• Within 4 years for an authorised change of use to a single dwelling;
• Within 10 years for any other breach of planning control (essentially other change of use).

If a development has been carried out in excess of the above timeframes anyone can apply for a CLEUD which seeks to prove that the development or use has existed for the required period of time. The onus lies with the applicant to provide precise and unambiguous proof, if the LPA have no evidence to the contrary and the balance of probabilities lies with the applicant the LPA will grant a certificate.

The Council cannot however require someone to apply for a CLEUD and if you have evidence to support the length of time a development has existed enforcement action will not be taken by the LPA just because you haven’t applied for a CLEUD. A CLEUD is the formal legal document to confirm the development needed permission, but it’s over the timescale for enforcement and therefore now considered lawful. The process can take as long as a planning application to determine and requires the same planning fee as a new proposal.

There is another option if you’ve carried out works but have not exceeded the ‘immunity’ timescales above, retrospective planning permission can be applied for, however just because your extension maybe build doesn’t mean it will automatically be granted. The LPA will consider the merits of the scheme and if it doesn’t comply with National or Local guidelines/policy then it can be refused.

In terms of a house sale there maybe other ways to progress without going through the CLEUD or retrospective planning application routes, for instance, I know of cases where an Indemnity Insurance to cover the works has been sufficient to allow a sale to complete. This is generally in cases where the works exceed the ‘immunity’ timescales and therefore enforcement action will not be progressed by the LPA.

I’m in no way advocating development without the relevant consents as it can become a lot more complicated than the example I’ve used. It’s not illegal to carried out development without the relevant consents (unless it’s a Listed Building) and scenarios such as this happen regularly so if you find yourself in a situation like this consider your options.

Our Enforcement eBook has further information on potential consequences of unauthorised development and our series of eBooks have more information on Town Planning…The Basics topics

Options for selling a house without planning permission
Oh No I Don’t Have Planning Permission!

Town Planning…The Basics

There’s a lot of advice out there regarding Town Planning, thousands of pages dedicated to what can be perceived as red tape but with a lot of jargon and confusing details in general they don’t tend to cover what you need to know in simple basic terms.

Planning House strive to provide valuable information in order for people to be better informed about the planning process without being bogged down by unnecessary waffle.

Town Planning is not rocket science, to help you know the basics of town planning, Planning House have prepared 8 eBooklets covering just that, the basics. If you want to look further into a particular topic more information can be found online very easily. These resources have been prepared as an easy read starting point, free of charge, no email collection before you can download and no sign up to a newsletter – no strings attached!  All you need to do is click the eBooklet and read it, the current series is:

Covering the need for town planning, the system, what town planners do and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), this eBooklet is a very light touch overview of planning.

Designed to give you the basics of pre-application engagement, planning fees, types of application, how to apply for planning permission, who makes the decision, the process, validation requirements, and material planning considerations. This eBooklet provides you with enough knowledge to assist you through the planning process if your proposal is not complex.

If you’re looking to extend or improve your home or change the use of a building it pays to understand the scope of permitted development rights. Covering potential permitted development rights you may have, including those for converting buildings i.e. barns into homes without the need for planning permission. However, as with all things about town planning it can be a complex topic, these rights can be removed, or there may be another process (prior approval) which you may need to go through in order to benefit from these rights.

This eBooklet is aimed at those who are proposing to embark on a self-build journey, covering the application process but also planning myths, the hidden costs of planning and steps to choosing a town planner, it’s a useful starting point.

There’s a right of appeal not just against the refusal of a planning application but also against non-determination of an application or against conditions attached to an approval. Covering who makes the decision, what to submit, appeal types and process, award of costs and disagreement with a decision this eBooklet helps you be more aware of the time and resources needed for an appeal.

Covering what is a breach of planning control, enforcement time limits, non-compliance, the range of methods used to tackle a breach and types of enforcement notice this eBooklet stresses the importance of early intervention.

7 CIL & s106
There are some hidden costs of planning which you may not be aware of, if you’re liable to pay CIL (Community Infrastructure Levy) or propose a development which may trigger the need for additional works or financial contribution (via s106 Agreement) it’s better to be informed about what the implications of both are.

Planning law requires that applications for planning permission be determined in accordance with the development plan, knowing what plans are in place and how they are developed will assist in progressing any planning proposal.

More topics are proposed to be added to the series in order to assist you in any potential development project, however if you need support or advice Planning House are here to help.

The basics of Town Planning
A series of Free eBooklets covering the basics of Town Planning

Change of Use Planning Success

Planning Permission secured for the change of use of existing ground floor retail unit (A1) to 2 no. units comprising hot food takeaway unit (A5) and retail unit (A1).

The proposal will utilise an existing vacant unit within West Cornforth, in the main local centre within the village.   The proposal will bring back into productive use a vacant unit, retaining an A1 element, and introduce a new A5 unit.  It was considered that the scheme would not have an adverse impact on the vitality and viability of the local centre, and the benefits of an occupied unit far outweigh the continuation of a vacant unit.

Edward Vaudin led on this application reference: DM/18/02473/FPA

How do I change the use of a premises to hot food takeaway
Planning Success at West Cornforth

What is Town Planning?

Edward Vaudin took over writing the Northern Insight magazine article this month, his piece on What Town Planning is informative and thought provoking.   A range of FREE EBOOKS are also available, one of which covers What is Town Planning.

Think about where you live, where is your local shop? Where is the nearest park? Where can you get something nice to eat? Are these places easy to get to? You would probably like to improve things where you live, maybe there needs to be more shops or things to do. Once you start thinking about these improvements, where would you put them? Where can they go? Apply this to other aspects of your local area like new homes for the growing population and you will start to realise how many important questions need to be answered about the places we live; these places have communities that have and will exist for years to come.

People are in general passionate about where they live. However, are they fully aware that the decisions made on ‘what goes where’ could impact the community for generations?

Over time, different people have voiced their ideas, some have succeeded, and some have failed, but throughout we have come together to work on a system that supports everyone, everywhere. As much as I find people passionate about the places they live, they see planning as somewhat of a mystery or a barrier. So, what is the system? What is town planning?

Town planning is what controls how we build our neighbourhoods, our towns, our cities, how we build our surroundings. Importantly how we shape our communities. Town planning sets guidelines to make sure developments do not have adverse effects on their surroundings. It also protects listed buildings – buildings that we have deemed important to heritage, culture and history. It is also important to protect our green spaces and countryside. Imagine if there were no rules on where you could build! Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty could be disrupted with inappropriate development and habitats could be destroyed, driving away nature.

National planning policy is laid out in the National Planning Policy Framework; it provides guidance for how local plans should be made and how to approach supporting local needs by promoting sustainable development in terms of economic, social and environmental needs.

Of course, planning is a complicated machine with many cogs turning away at different speeds, meaning planning is controlled by different bodies at varying levels dependant on where you are. Town planning is mostly handled at a local level of government. Typically, local government has three tiers:
• County Councils;
• District, Borough and City Councils;
• Parish and Town Councils.

Most planning matters are handled by the second tier of councils; this can vary from place to place. Areas that have parish or town councils can provide more location specified plans called neighbourhood plans which form part of policy that are used to make decisions in planning.

Communities generally have Councillors to represent people and their aspirations in terms of how a place develops. Councillors may sit on planning committees to make decisions on planning applications and local plans, but all of us are responsible for shaping the area we live.

In my opinion engagement is the key to shaping communities without it the Town Planning system fails to be effective. If you’re asked for your views on a proposal or an emerging local plan take time to think of your vision for the area and needs of the community and have your voice heard by participating.

Town Planning Basics
What is Town Planning?

Planning Appeal Allowed in Co. Durham

Planning House in collaboration with Blake Hopkinson Architects have secured planning permission for up to 66 houses in Co. Durham.

The site lies in the open countryside, bounding the settlement of Esh Winning.  Issues in the appeal included:

  • Development in the countryside;
  • 5 year housing land supply;
  • Impact on the character and appearance of the area; and
  • s106 obligations.

Whilst Durham County Council submitted that they now have a 5 year housing land supply under the new method of calculation published in the NPPF 2018, the Planning Inspector  concluded that material considerations indicate that a decision should be taken contrary to the development plan and the very limited adverse impacts of granting permission would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the development.

Planning Appeal Allowed, full decision can be read HERE.


Planning Appeal Durham
66 houses approved in Co. Durham

What is a Planning Breach?

If you’ve found yourself in the situation where you have had a visit from a Planning Enforcement Officer you should know the potential consequences.  This month’s Northern Insight magazine article considers planning breaches.

A planning breach in itself is not illegal (apart from specific cases such as unauthorised works to listed buildings or to protected trees), however failure to act on an enforcement notice can be a criminal offence.

A planning breach can be carrying out a development without the required planning permission; or failing to comply with any condition attached to a planning approval.

There are a number of possible outcomes in relation to a breach of planning control, the main outcomes are:

No further action (not expedient)
In accordance with government guidance if the development is acceptable in planning terms the Council cannot take formal action against it.

The officer will consider the development against local and national planning policies and will assess whether the development causes harm; if it doesn‘t the case will be closed and no further action will be taken.

Retrospective planning application
Councils are required to act proportionally for instance if you have built something without planning permission but it would be acceptable the Council will not require you to knock it down, but they may invite a planning application to regularise the development.

It is important to note that a Council cannot make someone submit an application, therefore, if an application is invited but not submitted, the Council must decide whether the development causes planning harm and if it doesn‘t, no action should be taken.

Certificate of Lawfulness
A development can become lawful if it has been in situ for a period of time – 4 years or 10 years depending on what type of development has occurred.

The developer may decide to submit an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness to prove that the development has existed for the required period of time, but again, the Council cannot make them do so.

Negotiate remedial works
If it is considered that the development could be made acceptable with some alterations these could be negotiated with the Council in order to remedy any harm that is being caused.

Formal action
If the development is unacceptable the Council should seek to remedy the matter amicably first by requesting its removal. If that is not successful, the Council will consider what type of formal action is appropriate. There are a number of types of notices, the development circumstances will dictate the type of notice served.

Formal action can be a lengthy process as legal and procedural steps have to be followed, in some instances there is a right of appeal.

There are some notices which could be served without waiting for the outcome of the enforcement process, such as Stop Notices which would normally only be served in a small number of cases where the unauthorised development is considered extremely harmful.

Planning enforcement is a complex and sometimes confusing area of planning if you have been threatened with enforcement action it is essential that you do not ignore it. Enforcement action is discretionary and early intervention and negotiation can resolve a situation quickly and efficiently.

If you need advice and guidance contact Planning House.

Unauthorised development
What is Enforcement Action?

Know your options if your planning application is refused

This months Northern Insight Magazine article deals with knowing your options should you find yourself in a situation where your planning application has been refused, or there are conditions attached to your planning approval which you don’t think are reasonable.

If in doubt, kick it out’ you may not have heard the saying but some Councils do adopt this approach in terms of dealing with planning applications. If your application is refused know your options. This short article will look at how to approach appealing your planning refusal.  If you are refused planning permission, you are entitled to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, an impartial government body independent of your local Council.


Whilst planning appeals are free to submit, they cause delays, are time consuming and could incur additional costs. Engage with your local planning authority regarding alternative development to potentially avoid a planning appeal. Could your plans be amended to something which the Council (and you) would be happy with, if so this could save a lot of time and uncertainty.


If you do embark on a planning appeal, be aware of what evidence you and the Council have to support both sides of the argument. Planning policies relevant to your site will be critical when forming your planning case for an appeal, so make sure you know how they relate to your site.

Every planning refusal should have an officer’s report (Committee or delegated) which outlines the proposal, planning policies and material planning considerations associated with your proposal. These are generally part of the Council’s online planning application. Reading the officer’s report will help you focus on the reason you’re appealing.

Look for similar developments or appeals which could support your case (via the Appeal Casework Portal or via an internet search), referring to similar cases could assist the Planning Inspector in weighing up your proposal.


Applications for award of costs can be made by either party in the appeal process, so be aware the Council could apply for their costs associated with the appeal to be paid by you (although rare this can happen). However, you can also make an application for award of costs if you believe the Council have acted unreasonably. Be realistic in any application for costs, just because you disagree with the planning outcome doesn’t mean the Council have been unreasonable, refer to the Planning Inspectorate website for more information.

Be aware of any additional costs such as technical report costs, legal agreements (s106), Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) etc. For instance, if a scheme was refused due to traffic impact, you may wish to commission a transport study to support your appeal.

If a legal agreement (s106) is required to secure planning obligations you must submit this (or Unilateral Undertaking) along with your appeal. If you omit an agreement the Planning Inspectorate will not allow your appeal even if they were inclined to do so.


When finalising your appeal submission collate any supporting documents and have plans, form etc, they can be submitted online via the Planning Inspectorates Portal. Your grounds of appeal must fully disclose your case through full representations and any supporting evidence. The grounds of appeal must be concise, clear and comprehensive.


It is of paramount importance that you are aware of the deadlines which are set by the Planning Inspectorate, there is generally no scope to alter these – a deadline missed could put a nail in the coffin of your planning appeal.

On a final note, don’t despair if your appeal fails, take stock and read the Inspectors report to determine if there is an alternative development you can progress. If in doubt seek assistance.

Options for a planning appeal
How do I appeal a planning decision

Make way for the new NPPF

NPPF 2018

Since 2012 the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) became the proverbial Bible of the Planning system making it less complex and more accessible. It vastly simplified the number of policy pages about planning and along with the planning practice guidance (PPG) provided a much needed shake up of draconian planning process.

The revised NPPF  has been published this afternoon in a bid to once again shake up the development process, some of the main changes involve:

  • Changes to the definition of, and the presumption in favour of, sustainable development;
  • Removal of the section setting out the government’s core planning principles;
  • New duties for strategic plan-making, including addressing key strategic priorities;
  • New duty for planning authorities to prepare statements to document cross-boundary issues;
  • Amended wording for soundness tests underpinning plan examinations;  Including that a plan must be ‘an’ appropriate strategy – not ‘the most’ – which may have implications for those pushing for sites to be included in a Local Plan.
  • Introduction of new standard method for assessing local housing need.  This new method will come into force in late January, six months after the new NPPF’s publication.  However, the government said it will consider adjusting the methodology in order to meet its 300,000-homes-a-year target in light of the impending publication of new household growth projections that are likely to be lower than previous estimates.  It will “consult on the specific details” when the new projection figures are published in September.
  • Requirements for authorities relating to housing delivery, including small sites target. Councils must accommodate 10% of their housing requirement on small sites, as opposed to 20% of sites under the draft version;
  • Introduction of the housing delivery test to determine need for action plan and performance against homes requirement.  The test will measure the number of homes created against local housing need and penalise councils that underdeliver against various thresholds over a three-year period.  This includes applying the presumption in favour of sustainable development where delivery is below 75 per cent of the housing requirement from 2020.
  • LPAs to have to meet a tougher test to prove that their housing sites are deliverable;
  • The importance of design standards is emphasised.  The creation of high-quality buildings and places is ‘fundamental’ to what the planning and development process should achieve, the revised NPPF states. In particular, councils should try to “ensure that the quality of approved development is not materially diminished between permission and completion, as a result of changes being made to the permitted scheme.
  • Encouragement for LPAs to allow changes of use to housing and minimum density standards;
  • New rules for how LPAs should decide whether ‘exceptional circumstances’ exist for green belt changes;
  • The approach advocated in the written ministerial statement issued in 2016 on neighbourhood development plans is enshrined.  Paragraph 14 says that where the presumption in favour of sustainable development would otherwise apply in the absence of relevant or up-to-date plan policies, the adverse impact of allowing housing schemes that conflict with Neighbourhood Development Plans is likely to “significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits” where the plan was adopted two years or less before the decision, it contains policies and allocations to meet its identified housing requirement and the local planning authority has at least a three-year supply of deliverable housing sites against its five year requirement, including any appropriate buffer against under delivery.  In addition, the planning authority’s record must show that at least 45 per cent of homes required were delivered over the previous three years, the document says.


Planning House welcomes Ed Vaudin

Summer Internship
Ed Vaudin joins Planning House

Planning House welcomes Ed to the team on his internship.

Ed is an urban planning student at Newcastle University, working towards both a masters in planning and a certificate of planning practice.   Ed first gained a thorough interest in planning through studying human geography, overtime this interest has flourished into a passion.   With an eagerness to learn, Ed is determined to be a key part of innovate and ground-breaking developments to come.

News in Business Durham

Durham Planning Consultant
New Freelancer of the Year


Shining a spotlight on East Durham and the North East in general Chris Pipe NAMED National New Freelancer of the Year 2018.

The awards, the centrepiece of the tenth annual National Freelancers Day held at Kings Place, London, recognise excellence in freelancing. Sixteen finalists across three categories – Freelancer of the Year, Young Freelancer of the Year and New to Freelancing – were judged on the strength of their portfolio, passion and commitment to freelancing, business acumen and the creativity and distinctiveness of their offering.

Chris founded Planning House in 2016 and has a wealth of experience in the Town Planning industry, as former Head of Planning for a Council and UK Planning & Land Director for a large PLC property company she knows her way through the planning system from a unique perspective, which is why she labels herself as a ‘Gamekeeper turned Poacher’.

With a passion for town planning which began through seeing the decline of the coal mining community where Chris lived, evolved an amazing career built from a love of people and places and how they influence one another.

Chris Pipe said, “I am thrilled and honoured to receive this award, the calibre of other finalists was awe inspiring. I’m delighted to be recognised by this prestigious award and ecstatic to be flying the flag for North East businesses.

Chris launched Planning House in 2016 as an independent planning consultancy based in East Durham, services cover a wide range of planning matters, and specialises in residential development. Through her experience and by understanding client needs Chris ensures that the right approach is taken for each project.

The ethos behind Planning House is to provide no-nonsense, realistic support and advice for clients but with a personal service being at the core of the business.   For more information visit