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What's the difference between planning permission and building regulations?

Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.

Planning is interested in the way our towns, cities and countryside is developed. This includes the appearance of buildings, the use of land & landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.

For many types of building work, separate permissions will be required for both. For other building work, such as internal alterations, buildings regulations approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt about building control permissions contact your local planning authority and building control team or view this online resource to find out if you need planning permission.

Watch our video explaining the differences between planning permission and building control (or read the transcript below):

Now watch this: "How to make a building regulations application" 

Read the transcript

In this clip we're going to look at the difference between planning and building control.

Many people get confused about these two permissions because you might need one or the other, both, or even neither, but you must find out before you start work. Planning permission or planning approval must be provided by your local council if your project meets the strict criteria.

You can get lots of free advice and information from your local council and their websites.

Planning permission is not usually required for most internal alterations, for some extensions, some loft conversions or some garages. Of course if your home is a listed building or is in a conservation area you'll probably need listed building consent, which is yet another type of legislation. So you should talk to the conservation officer at your local council and you'll probably need help from an architect.

Sometimes projects are classed as minor building works, known as permitted developments and they don't need planning permission. But some houses don't have permitted development rights. You should check with your local council before you start any work.

If you do need planning permission it will take at least two months, plus however long it takes to get the plans ready for submission. So you should allow enough time so it doesn't hold up your project.

Things that planning covers are location of the project, and the sighting, the height and size of the building, and the percentage of the plot that you want to build on. They look at local policies regarding the appearance, the materials, the colour of materials, the match of the bricks and tiles. You need to get all these things signed off by your local council before you build on site.

Things that planning doesn't cover include inspections, unless you deviate from the approved plan. They don't check how it's actually built, they don't look at the quality of the work, whether it's safe, or whether it will
leak, or fall down or burn down.

That's why we have Building Regulations, so for building control and Building Regulations talk to your local authority building control team.

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