Planning applications for householders

When you need permission

What this guide is about

If you are planning to alter your house this guide explains how the Town and Country Planning system may affect your proposals and the procedures you need to follow.

Contents

1. Before you start
2. When you will need planning permission
3. Design preparations
4. Discussing your proposal with your neighbour
5. Other approvals you may need
6. When planning permission is not needed
7. House extensions
8. Alteration to the roof of a house
9. Garden buildings and structures
10. Satellite dishes, radio and TV aerials
11. Porches
12. Fences/walls/gates
13. Patios, hardstandings, paths and driveways
14. Chimney, flues, soil and vent pipes
15. Domestic microgeneration equipment

1. Before you start - Do you need planning permission?

East Northamptonshire Council is responsible for the majority of Town and Country Planning matters in the District. Many proposals for work to your home will need planning permission.

The planning regulations that affect homes are detailed. The most relevant parts are summarised here and advice is given on the planning application issues, which most people need to know or have questions about.

Many types of minor works are deemed ‘permitted development’ and do not require planning application. This is because the Town and Country Planning Act grants planning permission for some alterations to houses.

Other works will need you to submit either a planning application or other type of application. The information contained here will help you to decide which category your proposals fall into and what type of application (if any) you should submit. If, after reading it you are still unsure, then please phone the duty planner on 01832 742225.

The Planning Officers can give you informal advice on whether you need planning permission, and the chances of your proposal being successful (requests for these services must be received in writing). On the rare occasion when a formal decision is needed, an application for a Certificate of Lawfulness may be submitted.

2. When you will need planning permission

You will always require planning permission for: -

  • A proposal to divide a dwelling into two or more separate dwellings.
  • Proposals to divide off part of a dwelling into a flat or annexe for separate use e.g. a granny annexe.
  • The use of a caravan in the garden as a home for someone other than a family member.
  • The use of part of a dwelling exclusively for business or commercial use.
  • A proposal to build something which is contrary in terms of the original planning permission for the dwelling.
  • Extensions to a flat or maisonette.
  • All balconies and verandas

3. Design preparations

It is worth thinking carefully about your project before taking any action. Will the work achieve what you hope it will? How will it affect the appearance of the property? Although people naturally have different opinions about design, a well-designed extension is likely to be more attractive to you and your neighbour than a poorly designed one. Extensions will frequently blend better with the original dwelling if they are constructed from the same or matching materials and built in a similar style to the original dwelling.

Some householders design their own building proposal. Others use professional help. The Council does not mind which way you choose, provided the applications are complete and supported by plans of an acceptable standard.

4. Discussing your proposal with your neighbours

You need to consider whether your neighbours’ properties are affected by your plans - even if you believe your proposals will work well. Put yourself in your neighbour’s shoes. If they were planning any works to their property you might be concerned about the effects the changes may have on your property. This would be especially true if light to a window may be reduced.

Before you submit your planning application, it is worth either meeting with your neighbours to discuss your plans or providing them with the drawings. Early consultation will in many cases lead to your proposals being more acceptable to your neighbours and gives you the chance to respond to any concerns they have - you may, for example, feel able to modify your plans to overcome any worries they have.

It is worth remembering that when work begins you or your contractor may also require access onto your neighbour’s land to carry out part of the building work. You will need your neighbour’s permission for this so their acceptance of the work going ahead can avoid problems at a later stage.

5. Other approvals you may need

Whether or not you need planning permission for your project, there are some other kinds of approval you may need. The District Council deals with many of these.

Building Regulations approval
New building works will often need to comply with the Building Regulations. These are intended to ensure that new buildings and extensions are structurally sound, safe and habitable. The Building Control Service, which is also located at the Council’s East Northamptonshire House Offices in Thrapston, will be able to advise you whether you need Building Regulations approval and how to apply.

Party Wall Act
Building works that are on the boundary of your property or that affect a wall that is jointly owned by you and your neighbour could be subject to the Party Wall Act. Please speak to a solicitor for advice or see the free booklet produced by the Minister for Communities available at www.communities.gov.uk/partywall-1996.

Listed Building Consent
If you wish to demolish a listed building, to alter it (either internally or externally) or extend it you will also need Listed Building Consent. You may also need Listed Building Consent for similar works to separate structures within the grounds of a listed building or to structures that were once within the grounds of a listed building. Please check with one of the Planning Officers before you act - it is an offence to carry out works to a listed building without this consent and could result in court action/prosecution.

Conservation Area Consent
If you live in a conservation area within the district, you will need Conservation Area Consent to demolish any building that is over 115 cubic metres.

Conservation Area Consent may also be needed to demolish gates, walls, fences or railings. There are some detailed exceptions to these provisions, so it is worth checking before taking any action. Again, it is an offence to carry out works within a Conservation Area without this consent and could result in court action/prosecution.

Works to trees
Consent is required to prune or fell trees that have a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) on them and all works to trees within a Conservation Area (TCA). Please contact the Duty Planner (01832 742225) or the Tree Officer (01832 742148) for help or application forms. It is an offence to do works to trees without this consent and could result in court action/prosecution.

Wildlife
Some houses contain roosts of bats or other protected species. If your home is one of these and the alterations you propose involve work to the roof or loft you need to notify English Nature of your intentions.

6. When is planning permission not needed?

You do not need to apply for planning permission for:

  • Repairs or maintenance
  • Minor improvements such as painting or replacing windows.
  • Internal alterations.
  • Re-roofing your house. But any additions to the roof will be treated as extensions.

Planning permission is required for the cladding of a dwelling with stone, tiles, artificial stone, pebble-dash, render, plastic or timber if it is located within a Conservation Area.

Please be aware that even if you do not require planning permission for the above you may require one or more of the other consents mentioned under Section 5.

7. House extensions

You will need to apply for planning permission to extend or add to your house if: -

  • The addition would be between the front or side of the original house and a highway. (A highway includes all public and private roads, footpaths, bridleways, by-ways and navigable rivers).
  • More than half of the area of the land around the original house would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • The extension would be higher than the highest part of the original roof.
  • The extension or alteration would have eaves higher that those of the original house.
  • The materials that you wish to use are not similar to those of the original house (except for conservatories)

Please note that new upper floor windows (in a wall or roof) to the side of a house need to be obscure-glazed. These windows must be non-opening unless they are more than 1.7m above the floor of the room.

Single Storey Extensions will also need planning permission if they are:

(a) for a detached house and extend more than 4m to the rear
(b) for all other house types and extend more than 3m to the rear
(c) within 2m of the boundary and the height of the eaves is over 3m
(d) over 4m in height
(e) to the side of the house and wider than half the width of the original house.
(f) to the side of a house within a Conservation Area

Extensions with more than one storey will also need planning permission if they are:

(a) to the side of the house
(b) within 7m of the rear boundary of your property
(c) extend more than 3m to the rear
(d) to the rear of any house within a Conservation Area.
(e) The roof pitch of the extension/alteration is significantly different from the pitch of the original house.

8. Alterations to the roof of a house

You will require planning permission for alterations to the roof of a house if:

  • Any extension to a roof of a house within a Conservation Area
  • It would exceed the height of the highest part of the existing roof.
  • Any addition to the front roof slope if it faces a highway.
  • A roof extension which would add more than 50 cubic metres to the volume of the house or more than 40 cubic metres to that of a terraced house.
  • Roof lights will need planning permission if they extend more than 150mm from the roof slope.
  • The materials that you wish to use are not similar to those of the original house.
  • In most cases planning permission will be needed if the roof alterations are less than 20cm from the eaves of the original house.

Please note that new upper floor windows (in a wall or roof) to the side of a house need to be obscure-glazed. These windows must be non-opening unless they are more than 1.7m above the floor of the room.

9. Garden buildings and structures

Many buildings of this type can be built without needing planning permission. Examples include carports, garages, sheds, greenhouses, swimming pools and pet houses. But some restrictions relating to extensions also apply to garden buildings.

You will need planning permission if:

  • You want to put up a structure to the front of the property.
  • You wish to build an annex
  • More than half the area of land around the original house would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • The building or structure is to be used other than for domestic purposes.
  • You want to erect a building of more than 3m in height, over 4m if it is to have a ridged roof, over 2.5m within 2m of the boundary or if the eaves height is over 2.5m
  • Your house is within a Conservation Area and the building would be to the side of the property.
  • You wish to install an oil or liquid petroleum gas (LPG) storage tank exceeding 3,500-litre capacity or 3m in height above ground level. (If the storage tank is within 2m of your boundary, planning permission will be needed if the tank is more than 2.5m above ground level).
  • You want to erect a building with more than one storey.
  • Your house is a Listed Building.
  • You want to put in decking more than 300mm high.

10. Satellite dishes, radio and TV aerials

Normal domestic radio and TV aerials do not require planning permission.

Planning permission is needed for the installation of a satellite dish or antenna on a house if:

  • It would be more than 45 centimetres in any dimension if installed on a chimney or 70 centimetres in any dimension elsewhere.
  • It would be higher than the highest part of the roof on which it is installed, or the highest part of the chimney, if installed on a chimney.
  • There are already two antennas installed, whether or not this needed planning permission.
  • It would be on a chimney or building exceeding 15m in height (usually flats etc).
  • It would be on a wall or roof slope visible from a highway within a Conservation Area.

Note: If your dwelling is a listed building, listed building consent will be required wherever the dish would be positioned whether or not you need planning permission.

11. Porches

You will need planning permission if the porch would:

  • Have a ground floor area of more than 3 square metres measured externally
  • Be higher than 3 metres above ground level
  • Be less than 2 metres from any highway.

12. Fences / walls / gates

You will need planning permission if:

  • The fence, wall or gate would be next to a highway and over 1 metre high, or over 2 metres high elsewhere.
  • The fence, wall or gate is within the grounds of a listed building.

Note: If your property is a listed building you may need Listed Building Consent for the work.

13. Patios, hardstandings, paths and driveways

Driveways to the front of your property must be made of a porous material (or have “run-off” to a porous area) if they are more than 5 square metres in size.

There is no other restriction to the area of land around your house that you can cover with hard surfaces. You will need planning permission if the hard surface is to be used other than for domestic purposes.

If a new driveway would cross a pavement or verge you will need to contact Northamptonshire County Council on 01604 236236. You will need to make a planning application if you want to make a new or wider access to a classified road.

14. Chimney, flues, soil and vent pipes

You will need planning permission for these additions if they are more than 1m above the height of the existing roof.

In a Conservation Area you will also need planning permission if it is on a roof slope or wall to the side or font of the house next to a highway.

15. Domestic microgeneration equipment

Planning permission will not be needed for water or ground source heat pumps within the grounds of your house.

Solar panels and solar thermal equipment attached to a house or building will not require planning permission unless:

  • they extend more than 200mm from the roof slope
  • they would be higher than the highest part of the roof
  • they are on a front or side wall of the house and visible from a highway within a Conservation Area
  • they are on a wall of any other building within your ground and visible from a highway within a Conservation Area
  • they are on a building within the grounds of a listed building

Stand alone solar panels and solar thermal equipment will not require planning permission unless:

  • there is already one stand alone solar system at the house
  • it would be more than 4m in height
  • it would be visible from a highway and within a Conservation area
  • it would be within 5m of the boundary
  • it would be within the grounds of a listed building
  • the surface area of the panels is more than 9 square meters
  • any dimension is greater than 3m

Please note that solar panels and solar thermal equipment should be placed in a way that minimises their impact upon buildings and their setting.

Wind turbines will always need planning permission regardless of their size or location.

Getting in touch

Duty Planner: 01832 742225
Building Control Helpline: 01832 742139
Conservation Officer (Listed Buildings) 01832 742133

Additional advice can be found on the Planning Portal.

Please note: This is an informal guide to planning permission for householders. Questions regarding specific situations or applications should be sent to us in writing. Please check with us before starting any work.