Tag Archives: #planninghelp

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?

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?

Make an Ally of your Planning Officer

As Planning Departments struggle with under resourcing and heavy case loads how do you make the Planning Officer your ally? Chris Pipe, Director of Planning House discussed this in this month’s Northern Insight Magazine .

Once you submit an application a planning professional (known as your case officer) is allocated, they seek comment from consultees and neighbours, carry out a site visit and ultimately make the recommendation on your proposal.

There can be numerous people commenting on your application, however it’s up to the case officer to decide whether any issues raised are so significant as to influence their decision.

Planners inevitably have to make subjective judgements about your proposal therefore working with your case officer can improve your chances of having it approved. I have said previously that some planners are worth their weight in gold and if they have an issue with the proposal but are in your corner hopefully they’ll work with you to find a solution.

Under Pressure
Your Local Planning Authority is likely to be under resources which can often mean that your case officer will deal with a heavy work load, which along with the pressure of hitting an eight-week deadline for most applications means their time is limited. Don’t presume you’ll be able to get hold of your case officer quickly if you ring or email or that they will be up to speed with your scheme until well into the application process. Your application will be uploaded onto the Councils website so in the first few weeks defer to this for any responses. If anything needs addressing, contact your case officer to discuss their view of the comments.

After three weeks I advise contacting your case officer to ensure they have all the information they need, or to see if they’d like to arrange a site visit. However, be mindful that site visits are often done without arrangement, therefore don’t be surprised if the officer declines to meet you.

Be aware some officers are helpful and informative, others evasive. Ultimately your case officer is there to process your application and is under no obligation to discuss your proposal with you, meet you on site or to keep you informed of every step in your application.

Communication is key to establishing rapport but this is not done by harassing your case officer, think and act strategically.

Planning Politics
Local councillors can be helpful if things aren’t going well with the planning officer. Some are willing to give a ‘push’ to officers to speed up decisions or communicate with applicants, others will not. However, be aware that this could destroy any rapport you have established with the planner and is therefore a risky strategy.

When your case officer is opposed to your proposal, on occasion councillors can call an application to committee for decision, however this procedure varies from council to council.

The Decision
Recommendations are made by the planning officer through a report which brings together any comments received, assesses the proposal against the development plan policies for the area and any other material planning consideration. These reports are generally signed off via a scheme of delegation. Some applications go to planning committee, where Councillors make the decision, whilst informed by the officer’s report they don’t necessarily have to follow the recommendation.

Ideally you should aim for a positive recommendation from your case officer, however if they don’t agree with your proposal don’t be agitated or as I’ve heard many times remind the officer that you pay their wages. If relationships do break down or there is an impasse consider instructing a planning consultant to help you. Planning Officers are professionals; however, this doesn’t mean their recommendations are always correct.

My ultimate advice make an ally of your planner don’t treat them like a barrier as if their response to your scheme is marginal, developing a rapport with the case officer can potentially increase your chances of securing approval.

Planning Officer communication is key
Don’t pester the planning officer – adapt your strategy for securing planning permission