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    Find out if you need planning permission

    The following are common examples of when you will need to apply for planning permission:

    • You want to make additions or extensions to a flat or maisonette (including those converted from houses). (But you do not need planning permission to carry out internal alterations or work which does not affect the external appearance of the building.)
    • You want to divide off part of your house for use as a separate home (for example, a self-contained flat or bed-sit) or use a caravan in your garden as a home for someone else. (But you do not need planning permission to let one or two of your rooms to lodgers.)
    • You want to divide off part of your home for business or commercial use (for example, a workshop) or you want to build a parking place for a commercial vehicle at your home.
    • You want to build something which goes against the terms of the original planning permission for your house – for example, your house may have been built with a restriction to stop people putting up fences in front gardens because it is on an “open plan” estate. Your council has a record of all planning permissions in its area.
    • The work you want to do might obstruct the view of road users.
    • The work would involve a new or wider access to a trunk or classified road.

    You do not always need planning permission. It is not required, generally speaking, for changes to the inside of buildings, or for small alterations to the outside such as the installation of telephone connections and alarm boxes.

    Other small changes, for example putting up walls and fences below a certain height, have a general planning permission for which a specific application is not required.

    Elsewhere in this service there is further advice on when you will need to apply for planning permission. If this does not cover what you wish to do, you should discuss your proposals with the planning department of your council.


    If you go ahead with your development without the required permission, the local council that is the planning authority for your area 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. You can appeal but if the verdict comes out against you and you still refuse to comply you may be prosecuted.