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Planning FAQs

Get answers to some commonly asked questions about planning and building control services.

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Q: What is the difference between planning and building control?
A: Planning concerns the use, appearance and impact of buildings, while building control concerns the internal design, construction and safety of buildings.

Q: Are planning permission and building regulations approval the same thing?
A: No. Planning permission is the approval of a proposed development, while building regulations approval is the meeting of the standards for the built development. Not all developments require both.

Q: Where can I find a glossary of planning terms?
A: You can find a glossary of planning terms on our website.

Q: What are 'use classes'?
A: You can find guidance on different use classes and some of the permitted development rights of these 'use classes' on our website.

Q: Do I need to submit a planning application if I'm not making any changes to the building?
A: Yes, for example in a 'change of use' application (where you intend to use the building/land for something different to what it currently is). The use of a building/land does not need to involve any structural changes, and a planning application may still need to be submitted for a change of use. See What are 'use classes'? for more information.

Q: How do I know if I need planning permission?
A: There is no fixed list of what you can or can’t do in planning. See apply for planning permission for details on when you do and don’t need planning permission.

Q: How do I apply for planning permission?
A: Step-by-step guidance can be found on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: Where can I pay for my planning application?
A: You can pay for your planning application using our online payment service.

Q: I need help putting together an application, can the Council help?
A: Yes, we offer several advice services. Guidance on the overall process and services available can be found on the apply for planning permission page. For detailed guidance, see how to prepare a valid application.

Q: Where can I view plans?
A: You can view plans for submitted, permitted and refused planning applications through Public Access.

Q: Are all planning documents shown on the Public Access website?
A: No. There are many reasons why something may not be shown/visible on the website.

Q: What does the abbreviated code (e.g. PER, REF, WDN, PEOBL) mean on planning applications?
A: These are abbreviations of decision codes. You can see the most commonly used decision codes on our planning applications and fees page. Sometimes you might see other decision codes (such as on Planning Committee agendas), these are set out in our planning glossary.

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Before submitting your application

Q: Can I get advice before making an application?
A: Yes, we offer a Planning Advice Service which has replaced the former pre-application service. Visit our Planning & Building Control Services page for more information.

Q: Why do I need to pay for planning advice?
A: Our Planning Advice Service can reduce your risks, increase the value and quality of your proposal and speed you through the planning process. Planning officers offer their time and expertise. This is why it is a charged service.

Q: Who can apply for planning permission?
A: Anyone can apply for planning permission, even if you are not the owner of the land in question.

Q: What documents do I need to make a planning application?
A: We offer detailed guidance on how to prepare a valid planning application.

Q: How do I know what type of planning application I should make?
A: There are many types of planning application. Information can be found on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: How much does it cost to submit a planning application?
A: The fees for submitting planning applications are set by the Government. These fees are listed on our planning applications and fees page.

Q: Do you prioritise certain applications?
A: No. All applications are considered equally, regardless of who has submitted the application or the size/scale of the development.

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Planning Advice Service

Q: Is it mandatory to use the planning advice service? 
A: No, but we often recommend it.

Q: Why should I use the service? 
A: Using the service could:

  • help you make the most of your opportunity

  • reduce the likelihood of an invalid application

  • help you understand how policies affect proposals

  • improve the quality of your application and proposal

  • avoid delays during the planning process

  • reduce your development costs and the risk of refusal

Q: What information should I submit? 
A: We want to engage with you as early as possible, so if all you have is a concept, that's not a problem, we'll still work with you. If you can provide the following, they are really useful:

  • A location plan (1:1250 scale) with the proposed development site outlined in red and all other land under your control (owned, leased or with options) outlined in blue.

  • A brief description of the development.

  • Details of any consultations already undertaken, eg highways authority, environment agency.

  • A site history - ie occupancy of the site.

  • Photographs of the site.

Q: How do I apply for the service? 
A: Use our online apply for planning advice form.

Q: How much does it cost to use the service?
A: The fee for planning advice depends on the type/scale of your proposal (householder/residential, commercial and other). See the planning and building control services and fees for a breakdown of fees.

Q: What happens after I apply? 
A:We will contact you within one week to arrange a meeting, preferably to take place the following week. After the meeting we will respond in writing within two weeks. In total, the process should take no more than four weeks, unless your availability for the meeting causes delay.

Q: Will I get specialist advice on specific technical issues? 
A:Specialist advice is not part of our Initial Advice Service. If you choose to use the Follow-on Advice Service at your case officer’s recommendation, they may co-ordinate the input of specialists as they consider necessary.

Q: Do I have to follow your advice? 
A:The advice letter will give a recommendation to:

  • submit a planning application

  • withdraw the proposal

  • seek follow-on advice

  • enter a planning performance agreement

You do not have to follow our advice, but not doing so is likely to carry greater risk for you.

Q: If I follow your advice to submit an application, will it definitely be approved? 
A:No, but we rely on our reputation when selling advice services. We therefore work hard to ensure our advice is correct. The advice process may be less probing than assessing a planning application, so there is a risk that:

  • the proposal may raise further issues as it is worked up in detail

  • consultees may identify additional issues

  • the planning committee may take a different view to our advice

Q: If I submit a planning application after receiving initial advice, will I be assigned the same case officer? 
A:Where possible, yes.

Q: What is a planning performance agreement? 
A:Planning performance agreements (PPAs) are voluntary agreements between applicants and local planning authorities for large or complex planning proposals. They bring the developer and local planning authority together to work in partnership throughout the planning process. This ensures that the required resources and expertise are available to deliver high-quality developments.

Q: What should I do if you recommend that I withdraw the proposal? 
A:We only recommend a proposal is withdrawn where we see no way of resolving the issues created in trying to meet your aims. You could still make an application, but it is very unlikely that it will be approved. A better course of action would be to revise your aims and submit a new initial advice request.

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After submitting your application

Q: Who is consulted about a planning application?
A: When a planning application is submitted there are several statutory (required by law) consultees and these are set out on the Government website. Anyone can comment on a planning application that has been submitted to us.

Q: Can I make amendments once my application has been validated?
A: Yes. If you wish to amend an application after submission but before determination you can do so by using our planning application amendment service.

Q: How long will it take to get a decision on my application?
A: Most planning applications are decided within 8 weeks. Larger and more complex applications can take up to 13 weeks. Any extensions must be agreed in writing between the case officer and the applicant.

Q: What is considered by a case officer when making a decision on my planning application?
A: When determining a planning application, a case officer must consider how the development complies with national policy, the local development plan, and material planning considerations. More information on these can be found in the Government guidance (external website).

Q: Can I speak to my case officer/validation officer?
A: Yes, once your case officer has been allocated you will be able to contact them by phone or email. To speak to your validation officer, please email the planning department.

Q: What is the status of my application?
A: Your application passes through three stages: registration, validation and determination. If your application fails either registration or validation you will be contacted by the planning department. Once your application has been validated you can see the status of your application on Public Access.

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Amending your application

Q: Can I amend my application after submission?
A: You can make a request through our planning application amendment service from when you submit until determination. For amendments after determination, you must use the minor-amendments service.

Q: What happens if my case officer wants me to amend my application?
A: There are several reasons why we may recommend an amendment, such as:

  • improving your likelihood of approval
  • improving the quality of your development
  • improving the value or benefit to the applicant of the development
  • preventing you from having to start a new application from scratch

If we think you should amend your application we will contact you.

Q: Why do you charge for this service?
A: Incorporating amendments from applicants can consume a lot of officer time. The cost of this work is rarely covered by the planning application fee. Our paid service recovers the cost of any additional time and helps us deliver a more efficient service. 

Q: Do I have to use this service?
A: This is a discretionary service. You only have to use it if you wish to amend an application after submission. 

If your case officer has suggested an amendment, you are not required to follow their advice. However, you should think carefully about the suggested amendment; it is likely to be in your interest.

Q: Will using this service guarantee that my application is approved?
A: No. Using this service will not ensure that your application is approved. If an amendment is suggested by your case officer, it is likely to improve your chances of being approved. 

If you request an amendment that is likely to harm your application, we will discuss this with you. 

Q: Will making an amendment change the timescale for getting my decision?
A: Usually, yes. By submitting the Request Form you are agreeing to an extension of two weeks to the determination date. If the request is accepted, a further extension to the determination date will be notified to you in a written quote. The length of delay will depend on the amount of work involved to incorporate the amendment. 

Q: Can I request an amendment before creating supporting documentation?
A: Yes, you can make a request describing the amendment you would like to make without submitting supporting documents. However, before we can process your amendment we must have received all supporting documentation.

Q: What happens if my supporting documentation fails validation?
A: Supporting documents are validated as per a normal application. If a document fails validation you will need to correct it and resubmit it quickly. Failure to do so will result in your service being cancelled with charges applied.

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After you've received your decision

Q: How long does my planning permission last for?
A: Once planning permission has been granted, you have three years to implement (start) your planning permission.

Q: When does my planning consent expire?
A: Your planning consent expires three years from the date on the decision notice. After this date, your application will be considered ‘expired’ and you would lose your right to undertake the works.

Q:  What are 'reserved matters'?
A: Reserved matters accompany outline planning applications that seek approval for development ‘in principle’ with some of the details to be covered later or ‘reserved’. Details on what this means are set out on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: What are planning conditions?
A: Planning conditions are conditional requirements that you must satisfy before you can build your development, these are set out in your decision notice. See planning portal (external website) for more information.

Q: How do I discharge / amend / remove planning conditions?
A: To discharge / amend / remove planning conditions, you will need to submit an application for approval of details reserved by condition (ADRC) or an application for removal or variation of a condition (VCDN). You can submit these in the same way you'd submit any other application. 

Details on how to do this can be found on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: What if I’m unhappy with the decision?
A: If you are unhappy with the decision on your planning application, you can appeal the decision by applying to the planning inspectorate. Details on how to do this can be found on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: I have planning permission, when can I start work?
A: You should first check whether your proposal needs building regulations approval before commencing works; failure to do so may result in a fine. If your scheme does not require building regulations approval, you can start work as soon as planning permission has been granted.

Q: When do I have to complete the works?
A: In most cases once you have started building there is no restriction on when these need to be completed. Certain permitted development rights, however, do have restrictions on when works must be completed. See use class orders explained for requirements on permitted development.

Q: I have been refused planning permission, can I appeal the decision and where can I do this?
A: Yes, if you wish to appeal the decision on your planning application you can apply to the planning inspectorate. See appealing your planning decision for more information.

Q: My neighbour wants to build houses in their garden, can I appeal against their application if they are successful?
A: No, only the applicant can appeal a planning decision. However, anyone can make a comment on a planning application during the determination process. All comments are taken into account by the case officer in their decision.

Q: What does the abbreviated code (e.g. PER, REF, WDN, PEOBL) mean on planning applications?
A: These are abbreviations of decision codes. You can see the most commonly used decision codes on our planning applications and fees page. Sometimes you might see other decision codes (such as on Planning Committee agendas), these are set out in our planning glossary.

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Commenting on a planning application

Q: How do I comment on a planning application?
A: You can find out how and where to comment on planning applications on the comment on a planning application page.

Q: How are my comments taken into account?
A: Comments received on planning applications are considered by the case officer. Only comments that are made on planning grounds, known as material considerations (external website), will affect the decision.

Q: Why wasn’t I notified about this application?
A: Unless you have requested to be notified, or are a statutory consultee, you will not be automatically notified about planning applications. We offer guidance on getting automatic notifications from the public access website.

Q: I've commented on a planning application. Are my comments visible?
A: All comments made on planning applications are visible on Public Access, unless there are exceptional reasons for not doing so.

Q: Can I make private and confidential comments on planning applications?
A: We do redact (censor) personal information by default (email addresses and phone numbers). However, if you wish for other details to be redacted (name, address, etc) this should be made clear at the point of submitting comments.

Q: What does the abbreviated code (e.g. PER, REF, WDN, PEOBL) mean on planning applications?
A: These are abbreviations of decision codes. You can see the most commonly used decision codes on our planning applications and fees page. Sometimes you might see other decision codes (such as on Planning Committee agendas), these are set out in our planning glossary.

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Local Plan

Q: What is the Local Plan and how does this affect my property?
A: The Local Plan is a development plan document that sets out the framework for development in Wycombe for the next 20 years. It contains the planning policies (rules) for what can/can’t be done in a certain area.

Q: Where can I view the current development plan for Wycombe?
A: You can view the currently adopted Wycombe development plan on our website.

Q: How do I find out whether there is an allocation adjoining/near to my property?
A: For allocations in an adopted Local Plan you can look on the MyMaps section of MyWycombe. Make sure to select all layers in the 'planning policy' category. (For proposed allocations in a draft Local Plan, you will need to look in the document for the policies maps which will show the proposed areas for allocation. These allocations are not finalised until the Local Plan is adopted.)

Q: How do I comment on the Local Plan?
A: The Local Plan is consulted on at various stages in the process (for specific periods of time) and these consultations will be advertised on our website.

Q: The draft Local Plan has allocated land for housing by my property, is this definitely going to happen?
A: No. The allocations in a Local Plan are only finalised once it is adopted. Before the Local Plan can be adopted it must go through an examination by the planning inspectorate, who may suggest changes. More information on the Local Plan process can be found on the Government website.

Q: If an allocation is adjoining/near to my property, will it affect the value?
A: Research undertaken by LSE in 2015 [PDF | 830KB] has found that house prices do not always decline around new housing developments, at least not for a sustained period of time. Short-term price reductions during or immediately after the construction period were noted in some cases. The impact of development on adjoining house prices is not a planning matter and is therefore not a material consideration for planning decisions.

Q: The land near to my property has been allocated in the adopted Local Plan. When will this be built?
A: There is no definitive answer as to when allocated land is built, however the rough phasing (usually split between 0-5 years, 6-10 years and 11-15 years) is identified in our Housing Land Supply. You can view the housing trajectory for the emerging Local Plan (not yet adopted) on our website.

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Allocations and designations

Q: What are planning policies and how do I find out if my building is affected?
A: Planning policies are the ‘rules’ for development in your area. These are found in a variety of documents: the Local Development Plan (Local Plan), Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), or Neighbourhood Development Plans (Neighbourhood Plans). The planning policies for Wycombe can be found in the currently adopted Wycombe development plan.

Q: How do I find out if my building is listed?
A: You can find out if your property is listed by using MyMaps on MyWycombe. Under ‘show map categories’, open the group for ‘planning constraints’ and select the ‘listed buildings’ layer.

Q: How do I find out if my building is in a Conservation Area?
A: You can find out if your property is listed by using MyMaps on MyWycombe. Under ‘show map categories’, open the group for ‘planning policy’ and select the ‘conservation areas’ layer.

Q: How do I find out if my building is in the Green Belt?
A: You can find out if your property is listed by using MyMaps on MyWycombe. Under ‘show map categories’, open the group for ‘planning policy’ and select the ‘green belt’ layer.

Q: How do I find out if my building is in the AONB?
A: You can find out if your property is listed by using MyMaps on MyWycombe. Under ‘show map categories’, open the group for ‘planning policy’ and select the ‘area of outstanding natural beauty' layer.

Q: My property is affected by planning policies/a listed building/in a conservation area/in the green belt/in the AONB. Does this mean I can’t build anything?
A: No, although there are some designations that restrict development (Green Belt and AONB for example) there are certain types and scales of development in these areas. All proposals would have to comply with planning policy and you can read more about these in the currently adopted Wycombe development plan.

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Trees and hedges

Q: What is a Tree Preservation Order?
A: A TPO is a written Order, made be a Local Planning Authority, to protect trees that contribute to the appearance and amenity of an area and/or have particular cultural or historic value. It is a criminal offence to cut down, prune, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a TPO without the authority’s permission, unless an exception applies. This includes root pruning.

Anyone found guilty of an offence could be fined up to £20,000 if convicted in the magistrates' court. The most serious cases may be dealt with in the Crown Court where unlimited fines can be imposed. 

Q: What type of trees can be protected by a TPO?
A: Any age, size or species of tree can be protected, including non-native trees.

Q: How do I find out if a tree is protected by a TPO?
A: You can find out if a tree is protected on our website.

Q: How do I apply for permission to carry out work to a tree with a TPO?
A: Apart from a few limited exceptions, you must gain permission from the LPA prior to the work being carried out. You must use the standard TPO application form and it is strongly recommended that you read the TPO application guidance notes to avoid delays in your application.

You can also apply online via the Planning Portalapplications guidance. It may take up to 8 weeks to decide an application from the day it is registered.

Q: I live in a conservation area. Can I carry out work to my trees?
A: You must notify the council, in writing, at least six weeks prior to the work being carried out if the tree is greater than 7.5 cm in diameter when measured 1.5 metres above the ground (or 10 cm if thinning to help the growth of other trees). This is known as a Section 211 notice.

If you live in a conservation area and the tree is also subject of a TPO, you need to follow the TPO application process. Find out more on our apply for planning permission page.

Q: Are there any works that don’t need a TPO application/Section 211 notice?
A: There are a very limited number of exceptions which do not require permission:

  • Dangerous trees: if a protected tree poses an urgent and serious safety risk, you do not need to wait for written permission the LPA. However, you must notify us in writing as soon as practicable after the work becomes necessary. You must only carry out the work necessary to remove the risk. We strongly advise that you take photographs to demonstrate that the work was immediately necessary. Failing to do so may leave you liable to prosecution if the LPA considers that the work was not an exception. Please be aware that, if the tree needs to be removed, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement.
  • Dead trees: you must give the authority 5 working days prior written notice before cutting down a dead tree, unless work is urgently necessary because there is an immediate risk of serious harm. Please be aware that, if the tree needs to be removed, the landowner has a duty to plant a replacement.

  • Dead branches: you may remove dead branches from a living tree without prior notice or consent.

  • Ivy: you may remove ivy from a tree without prior notice or consent.

  • Shrubs & Hedges: you may prune shrubs and trim hedges without prior notice or consent.

Q: I want to prune my fruit tree. Do I need to submit a TPO application/Section 211 notice? 
A: TPO's made prior to August 1999 do not include fruit trees. The Regulations were changed in 1999 and fruit trees may be included in TPO's made after that date.

You do not need permission to carrying out work on a fruit tree that has been cultivated for the production of fruit in the course of a business or trade i.e. a commercial orchard.

If you are carrying out work to fruit trees in domestic gardens or land not growing fruit commercially, you will need to apply for permission.   The exception to this would be pruning fruit trees in accordance with good horticultural practice to improve fruit production.

Q: Is there a charge for making a TPO application or submitting a Section 211 notice?
A: There is no charge for making an application to carry out works to trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order or for submitting a notice of intent to carry out works to trees in a conservation area.

Q: I would like some guidance before I submit my TPO application/Section 211 notice? Will the tree officer come and look at the tree?
A: In most cases you do not need the tree officer to visit the site in advance. If you would like to seek independent advice from an arboricultural specialist, The Arboricultural Association has a list of approved contractors and registered consultants who will be able to assist.

Alternatively, we offer a Pre-application Advice Service as an optional chargeable service.

Q: Will the Council pay for my protected tree to be pruned?
A: The Council will not pay for works to a protected tree other than those under its ownership. Landowners have a legal duty of care to ensure their trees are maintained in a safe condition and must carry out works at their own expense. 

Q: There are trees which I think should be protected by a Tree Preservation Order. What can I do?
A: The making of a TPO is often prompted when trees with good public amenity value are under a known or suspected threat of being cut down or damaged. If you want the council to consider protecting particular trees, please contact the arboricultural team giving details of the trees and the reasons why you think the trees should be protected.

Q: I’ve seen work being carried out on a protected tree. How can I find out if the owner has permission?
A: The council has a register of applications and decisions that you can look at on our website.

If you think that work is being carried out without permission, please report it to our planning enforcement team.

Q: Branches from my neighbour’s tree overhang my boundary. Am I allowed to cut them back?
A: Under common law you may, at your expense, cut back overhanging branches to your boundary without the landowner's permission. However, you must not trespass onto the land on which the trees are growing or cut back branches beyond the boundary, without the permission of the tree owner.

The branches belong to the tree owner. Any branches that are removed must be disposed of at your expense, in a responsible manner, if the tree owner does not want them returned.

All work must be carried out carefully. You must avoid damaging property or carrying out work that would leave the tree unsafe or dangerous. You cannot alter the height of trees on neighbouring land without permission from the tree owner.

Whilst not required under common law, it is advisable to notify the tree owner of your intentions to avoid any misunderstanding. You must also check that the trees are not in the Conservation Area or subject to a Tree Preservation Order prior to works being carried out as there are considerable fines for unauthorized works.

Q: My neighbour’s trees are dangerous. What do I do?
A: Under the Miscellaneous Provisions Act (1976) the council has discretionary powers to deal with dangerous trees in its area. These powers are normally used in emergency situations or as a last resort if the landowner appears not to be doing anything about a dangerous tree(s) which might cause harm to someone else or their property.

Complaints of this nature are intended for urgent situations rather than longer term concerns over general management.

If you wish to make a formal written complaint you may do so, however you will be required to explain why you believe the tree(s) pose an unacceptable risk to persons or property. To help with your complaint you should provide evidence that all reasonable efforts have been made to resolve the matter for example:

Q: I’m concerned that my tree is diseased and/or dangerous. Will the council come and inspect it?
A: The council does not carry out health or condition inspections of privately-owned trees. However, there are several professional organisations who will be able to assist.

Q: How does the council manage its trees?
A: As a responsible landowner, the council must fulfil its ‘common law’ duty of care to: ‘take reasonable care to avoid acts or omissions which they can reasonably foresee would be likely to injure their neighbour’.

Accordingly, we follow the methodology set out in its adopted Tree Risk Management Strategy.

We will not, as a matter of course, carry out any felling or pruning that it considers unnecessary to manage tree-related risk.

Q: What work is not included?
A: The Council is not obliged to prune or remove its trees for the following reasons:

  • to prevent blossom, leaves, fruit, nuts or seeds from falling onto private property. To stop ‘honeydew, which is secreted by sap sucking aphids, from landing on property or surfaces;
  • to alleviate allergies or medical conditions;
  • to increase the amount of light or to improve views from private properties; and
  • to rectify a loss or interference of television or radio service.

Q: I think the Council’s trees are damaging my property. What can I do?
A: If you suspect that a council tree has caused damage to your property, you will need to contact your insurance company and arrange a survey. Where a claim is made against the council relating to a council owned tree, we will advise the claimant as to what evidence we require so that we may thoroughly investigate.

Q: The council’s trees are overhanging my property. Will the council cut them back?
A: The Council are not obliged to prune or remove its trees to alleviate the nuisance of overhanging branches. If you wish to exercise your Common Law right to abate a nuisance associated with an encroaching tree.

If the trees are in contact with buildings, the council will take appropriate action to address issues of nuisance.

Q: The council’s trees are growing through the overhead cables. Who do I need to contact?
A: Customers concerned about trees growing close to overhead or underground utility wires or cables are advised to contact their service supplier.

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Heritage and Conservation

Q: I’m thinking of buying a listed building, what information is there?
A: Buying and living in a listed building can be extremely rewarding. However, it's important to bear in mind that older buildings differ from modern ones, and that you may not be able to change or extend it as you wish.  Before you buy, we recommend you think about the additional considerations this might involve. See Period Property UK for more information on buying a Listed Building.

Q: Do I need consent to replace the windows on my Listed Building?  
A: Listed building consent is normally required for replacement windows.  Windows are one of the most important elements in a historic building as they contribute to your property’s character through their design, materials and workmanship.  As a rule, historic windows should be retained wherever possible using careful matching repair. Their complete replacement should be a last resort and is rarely necessary. If repair is beyond the skills of a good joiner or metal worker, an accurate copy should be made.  You should seek advice before replacing windows as listed building consent may be required.  

Q: Do I need consent to make internal alterations to my Listed Building? 
A: Listed building consent is normally required before internal changes are made to the building and changes may also require building regulation approval.  The historic plan form or room layout within a building helps to tell the story of its use and of social and fashion conventions over time.  Furthermore, the construction and material used in historic partition walls is often of interest in their own right, and they may also provide structural support.  Demolishing historic walls and changes to the layout can diminish the building’s character and should generally be retained.  For further advice, please use our planning advice service.  

Q: I want to install a new bathroom / kitchen in my Listed Building, do I need consent?
A: Historic features such as old kitchen ranges are protected under the listing and should be retained.  Replacing modern sanitary ware or kitchen cupboards in existing locations does not normally require consent.  The introduction of a new bathroom and internal plan form changes to accommodate it is likely to require listed building consent.  Consideration should be given to the location and installation of new services to avoid affecting the appearance of the building and to minimize disruption to historic fabric.  For further advice, please use our planning advice service.

Q: I want to install central heating / air conditioning in my Listed Building, do I need consent?
A: New flues and extracts will need consideration to ensure they do not detract from the building’s appearance and may require consent.  Replacement boilers and central heating in existing locations is unlikely to require consent.   For further advice, please use our planning advice service

Q: I want to improve the energy efficiency of my Listed Building, how can I do this? 
A: Improving the energy efficiency of your building can be done sympathetically and without compromising its historic character.  The best approach is to look at your whole home, its own environment, construction, condition and historic significance. You need to know all the factors that affect energy use in order to devise your own energy efficiency strategy for your home.  Getting energy efficiency measures wrong or doing them badly can result in damage to the historic building and its fabric, and potential harm to your health. It may also fail to achieve predicted energy or cost savings.  Depending on the measures, listed building consent may be required.  See advice on Historic England’s website

Q: I want to extend my Listed Building, how do I do this?
A: Your home may have already been extended over time, or it may have been built in one go. When deciding on an extension it’s important to understand how the house has changed in the past, its particular character and how it sits within the garden or surroundings - its ‘setting’.  There are some cases where extension is not appropriate but, where acceptable in principle, extensions should not dominate the building in location, form or detailing.  This tends to mean that the extension should be smaller and lower than the main building.  Where a building already has been extended, the cumulative result of extensions should not be overpowering. 

Planning permission and Building Regulations approval may be required to extend your house. In addition, Listed Building Consent will be required if your building is listed.  It is strongly recommended that you use our planning advice service before submitting proposals 

Q: I want to convert my loft in my Listed Building, can I do this?
A: Utilising attic space may be an option to increase accommodation in your building.  However, it is likely that building regulations approval will be required and this may have implications on the architectural or historic character of your building.  Would the roof structure need to be altered to provide access and headroom, does the attic already have sufficient windows and is the means of escape sufficient?   It is advised that advice is sought to ensure that proposals for loft conversions are sympathetic to the special interest and structure of the building. 

Q: I want a new building in the garden of my Listed Building, can I do this?
A: There are very limited permitted development rights within the garden or curtilage (the land historically associated with the building) of a listed building and most new structures - garages, greenhouses, annex buildings etc - will require planning permission.   

Q: I want to alter/convert/demolish an existing building in the garden of my Listed Building, can I do this?
A: The extent of the curtilage (the land historically associated with the building), depends upon a number of factors and must be considered on a case by case basis.  Within the curtilage of a listed building, outbuildings, structures, walls and other features which pre-date 1948 are usually included within the listing protection.  The general rule is that they should be retained.  Listed building consent is required for the demolition or alteration of curtilage listed structures in addition to any planning requirements.   

Q: I need to find an architect or contractor to do works on my Listed Building, where can I find one?
A: Using a professional architect or surveyor with knowledge and experience of listed buildings can help you care for and manage your property appropriately.  Accredited professions can be found on the following websites: 

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Help and guidance

Q: Where can I find professional help for planning services?
A: There are many professional services that can assist you with the planning applications and building regulations approval process. Details on recommended trade-professionals can be found on the Planning Portal.

Q: How can I find out who owns a certain piece of land?
A: You can purchase copies of registry details and title plans from HM Land Registry We cannot provide copies of these documents for you.

Q: I am buying a house, how do I find out what the planning history is?
A: You can research the planning history of your property through a planning consultant, by looking at the Government's register of planning decisions or through your local archives. We also operate a planning history check service which can be applied for on the apply for planning permission page.

Q: How do I find out if a condition has been discharged?
A: We aim to respond to applications to discharge planning conditions within four weeks, however it can sometimes take eight weeks or more to respond. Like planning decisions, you have a right to appeal if it is taking too long to issue a decision.

If you are looking for details on historic planning conditions, you can find out by looking at the planning history.

Q: What do I do if I want to look at a planning file?
A: All planning documents are stored on Public Access. If you wish to see a hard copy of these documents please contact the planning department by email.

Q: How do I talk to someone in the planning department?
A: The best way to speak to someone in the planning department is by email. A member of the department will get in touch with you.

Q: I am concerned that someone is building/demolishing without planning permission, how do I notify the Council?
A: If you feel that there has been a breach in planning, please complete the online planning complaint form as soon as possible to report it to the planning enforcement team.


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