Do I really need planning permission?

Generally speaking, you need planning permission for any new development or change in the use of a building. It is important therefore to check with your local council’s planning department whether or not you need planning permission before you start building works.

Planning permission is not needed for work that only affects the inside of a building, unless it is a listed building.

What works might require planning permission?

  • An extension unless it is a permitted development
  • A loft extension
  • Installation of dormer windows
  • Installation of new window openings
  • Installation of patio doors
  • Creation of a driveway
  • Erection of a garage
  • Anything which requires Listed Building Consent

You should always check with your council’s planning department about whether you need to apply for planning permission for building work. If the advice is that you do not require planning permission, try to obtain a letter from them confirming this and keep it as evidence to use when you want to sell.

What paperwork do I require to keep?

You should keep the following items:

  • The planning permission itself.
  • The plans which have been stamped by the local authority

These should be handed to your solicitor when you instruct them to market your property for sale.

What happens if I don’t have planning permission?

You should speak to your solicitor about the matter.   If the alterations have been completed more than 4 years ago, the local authority will be unable to take enforcement action and in this case, you will not require to take any action at all.

If however the alteration is more recent, you may have to apply retrospectively for planning permission.

What do I do if a neighbour applies for planning permission?

If you are selling your property, you need to declare the planning application made by your neighbour in the Home Report and in the missives.  You should give the Neighbour Notification notice to your solicitors.

If the development mentioned in the notice is likely to affect your property adversely, you should object to the planning application as indicated on the notice itself.

Altering a Listed Building

Listing a building does not prevent it changing or developing, but it does mean that consideration has to be given to preserving its particular character.

Any proposal to demolish, or to alter or extend a listed building in a way which would affect its character, must be granted listed building consent before it can proceed.

When is listed building consent necessary?

Listed building consent must be obtained where proposals will alter the character of the listed building. This applies regardless of the category of listing (A, B or C) and to work affecting interior and exterior. The planning authority (in most cases the local authority) decides when any work is likely to affect the character of a listed building.

Alterations which may seem minor, such as stone cleaning all or part of the property, alterations or replacement of windows or installation of roof lights may require listed building consent.

Major work such as extensions, structural alterations or partial or total demolition are very likely to require consent.

Types of building works which would normally require listed building consent include:

  • demolition of a listed building
  • alteration or extension of a listed building in any manner (including internal) which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

It is important to note that the term ‘listed building’ includes the building itself, any object or structure fixed to it, or any object or structure that has been within the curtilage of the building since 1948.

What happens if I don’t have planning permission?

If you have altered a Listed Building without permission, a criminal offence has been committed.  In practical terms, if you are intending to sell your property, you should speak to your solicitor about the matter.  So long as you have not already spoken to the Local Authority or Historic Scotland about the matter, it may be possible to obtain Title Indemnity Insurance to satisfy a purchasing solicitor.


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