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Planning permission is only required for 'development', but what does that include?

In the UK, planning permission is only needed if what you are doing meets the legal definition of ‘development’ as set out in section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

Specifically, for these purposes, ‘development’ includes:

  • 'material' changes of use of land / buildings;

  • groundworks and other engineering operations;

  • construction, rebuilding, most demolition, structural alterations and other forms of building operations;

  • subdivision of a dwellinghouse into 2 or more separate dwelling houses;

  • mining operations;

  • plus some other works normally done by a builder.

Work that does not count as ‘development’ includes:

  • most interior alterations;

  • building works which do not 'materially affect' the external appearance of a building;

  • a change in the primary use of land or buildings, where the before and after use falls within the same use class - you can view the different use classes here.

There are certain 'permitted development rights' where planning consent is technically deemed to have already been given, subject to applications to local councils that may be needed to confirm that these rights apply to your project. We will cover these permitted development rights in a future post.

If you'd like further clarification as to how any of the above applies to your project, please feel free to contact us for some initial free advise via or 0845 170 8050.


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