Frequently Asked Questions

Q:   Do I always need planning permission for a development?

A:   No. Certain developments can be done without the need for planning permission. This is known as “permitted development”.  However, some or even all permitted development rights can be withdrawn by the use of an “Article 4 Direction”. This is issued when specific control is required over development in an area of special importance, such as a conservation area.

Q:   What is Permitted Development (PD Rights)?
 
A:   In short, the construction of some new buildings or extensions/alterations to existing property; or the changes of use of some buildings and land can be undertaken, subject to restrictions and limitations, without needing to obtain planning permission from local planning authorities (LPAs).
 
Q:   How do I know if what I want to do is Lawful Development or not?
 
A:   If you want to be certain that the existing use of a building or land is lawful for planning purposes or that your proposal does not require planning permission, you can apply to your LPA for a "Lawful Development Certificate".
 
Q:   What is a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC)?
 
A:   An LDC is not a planning permission, but it does provide statutory confirmation that on the day the application was submitted the development in question was or would be lawful and thus immune from planning enforcement action. An LDC will remain valid so long as there are no material changes in circumstances after it is issued. There is no legal requirement to obtain an LDC, however having such confirmation can be very helpful when properties are being sold.
 
Q:   Will I need planning permission for internal alterations to my home?
 
A:   Internal alterations which have no effect upon the external appearance of a dwelling do not generally require planning permission. If, however the property is a “Listed Building” then in the vast majority of cases internal alterations will require Listed Building Consent from your LPA. Before undertaking any alterations, works of repair or maintenance to a Listed Building you should check with your local Council as to whether consent will be required. The undertaking of unauthorised works to a Listed Building constitutes a “criminal act”.
 
Q:   What is a Listed Building?
 
A:   A listed building is a building or other structure of special architectural or historic interest included on a statutory list and  assigned a grade (I, II* or II). Sites of exceptional historic interest are assessed as Grade I, those of great historic interest as Grade II* and those of special historic interest as Grade II. Listing includes the interior as well as the exterior of the building, and any buildings or permanent structures within its curtilage. If your property is a listed building, then you will need additional planning consents to carry out works to it.
 
Q:   What is a conservation area?
 
A:   A conservation area is an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance. If your property is in a conservation area then in some circumstances you may need additional consent to carry out works which involve demolition of a building or gates, fences, walls or railings.
 
Q:   Will I need planning permission to install replacement glazing?
 
A:   In most cases the installation of replacement glazing will not require planning permission. However, permission may be required  if your property is situated within a Conservation Area or is subject to a condition attached to a planning permission that controls alterations to windows. In the case of Listed Buildings, the installation of replacement windows will require Listed Building consent unless the new windows are identical to the existing windows.
 
Q:   Will I need planning permission to run a business from my home?
 
A:   Planning permission will not necessarily be required. If the residential character of the property remains unaffected by the operation of a business run from it, then planning permission is unlikely to be required.
 
Q:   Can I create a new vehicular access and/or hard-standing?
 
A:   You do not require planning permission for the creation of a new vehicular access as long as:

  • The work does not involve a new or wider access to a trunk road or classified road (A, B or C), and
  • The access is required in connection with development permitted by any Class in Schedule 1 of the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.

While you may not need planning permission, you will need to contact Kent Highway Services to obtain their consent for a dropped kerb.
 
Q:   Will I need planning permission to create a hard surface within the garden area of my dwelling?
 
A:   If you are creating or replacing an area of hardstanding new rules now apply for householders wanting to pave over their front gardens. You will NOT need planning permission if a new/replacement driveway:

  • Uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or
  • if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

You WILL need planning permission:

  • if the surface to be covered is more than five square metres for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off.

Q:   Will I need planning permission to extend my house?
 
A:   Possibly, although Permitted Development rights are available for any enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwelling house including additions to the roof of the dwelling house.
 
Please note if you’re planning on building a single storey rear extension under your permitted development rights, you have until 30 May 2019 to take advantage of a temporarily doubled size allowance under the Larger Home Extension Scheme. This includes extensions up to 8 meters (from 4 meters) for a detached house, and 6 meters (from 3 meters) for all other houses. Contact us for further information.
 
Q:   What is the Neighbour Consultation Scheme?

A:   This is the approval process for extensions built under the Larger Home Extension Scheme. Once you provide the detailed plans for your project to the council (we can help you do this!), they will notify any adjoining owners or occupiers to your development (i.e. your neighbours) and invite them to raise any objections within a 21-day period.
 
If no objections are received, and the development complies with all of the relevant criteria under permitted development rights and the Larger Home Extension Scheme, you’ll be notified by the council within a 42-day period and may start building,potentially under certain additional conditions.
 
Q:   How long does it take to get a decision on an application?
 
A:   Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they are unusually large or complex in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks. The authority should be able to give you an idea about the likely timetable.
 
Q:   What can I do if I’m refused permission?
 
A:   If the local planning authority refuses permission or imposes conditions, it must give written reasons. If you are unhappy or unclear about the reasons for refusal or the conditions imposed, talk to us as we’ll be able to advise you further on the best course of action.
 
Please note if your application has been refused, you may be able to submit another application with modified plans free of charge within 12 months of the decision on your first application. Alternatively, if you think the authority's decision is unreasonable, you may wish to consider making a planning appeal. Making an appeal should always be the last resort. We are able to assist with making an appeal.
 
Q:   Can planning permission be granted retrospectively?
 
A:    If you go ahead with a development without the required permission, the local planning authority may ask you to make a retrospective planning application. If it decides that permission should not be granted it may require you to put things back as they were.
 
Q:   What are material considerations?
 
A:   A material consideration is a matter that should be taken into account in deciding a planning application or on an appeal  against a planning decision. Material considerations can include (but are not limited to):

  •     Overlooking/loss of privacy
  •     Loss of light or overshadowing
  •     Parking
  •     Highway safety
  •     Traffic
  •     Noise
  •     Effect on listed building and conservation area
  •     Layout and density of building
  •     Design, appearance and materials
  •     Government policy
  •     Disabled persons' access
  •     Proposals in the Development Plan
  •     Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  •     Nature conservation

However, issues such as loss of view, or negative effect on the value of properties are not material considerations.