Planning FAQs

This page contains the most frequently asked questions we receive about planning and planning related issues, when people come to us for planning advice. 

Yes, under section 74B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 you can now apply for urgent changes to construction working hours to support safe construction working in line with the government’s latest social distancing guidance on construction and other outdoor work.

However, applications must be made online

Yes, but you should have a good knowledge of building construction and the requirements of the building regulations.

It is likely that employing an architect, building surveyor, or other professional will produce better results and reduce any delay in obtaining approvals.


There's a search facility for planning, listed building and advertisement applications made within the district, available online.

You can view or comment on a planning application.


Generally, you do not need to submit a planning application or need building regulations for this type of works providing they fall within set limits.

However, you are advised to consult building control to confirm exemption on 0300 7729 622.

You can perform certain types of building works without needing to apply for Planning Permission.

This can be done under what is known as Permitted Development.

These are usually small things such as:

  • Conservatories
  • small extensions
  • replacement windows
  • solar panels and signs.

However, some works can't be classed as permitted development.

If, for example, you are within a conservation area, a listed building or your property is a flat, maisonette or commercial premises.

There are other constraints on development to consider, for example if there's a protected tree on the property, or there's a risk of flooding.

The Planning Portal website contains advice on your permitted development rights and includes a number of interactive guides on common householder projects.

In some cases permitted development rights on a property may have been restricted or removed through an earlier planning consent.

You can carry out a property search and view the planning history of a site in our online mapping system.  

We also provide a planning duty officer service where you can discuss general planning queries in relation to householder developments.

Planning applications can be viewed on our website.

If you would like to see printed documents, the easiest way to do so is by contacting your parish council.

If you are not able to view them through your parish council you can visit our Cambourne offices between 8.30am and 4.30pm Monday to Thursday and 8.30am and 4pm on Fridays.

You can apply for planning permission:

  • Online via the national planning portal.
  • Or you can download and complete your application form and return to us with your payment.

More information on how to apply for planning permission can be found on our apply for planning permission webpage.

You can also find and download the paper planning application form you need from the Planning Portal.

For domestic (householder) queries only, we offer 15 minutes of free advice and guidance with a duty planning officer to support you with your planning application relating to your home. The duty planner can answer questions about:

  • the planning application process for householder applications
  • how householder planning applications are assessed
  • conditions that have been attached to a householder planning permission
  • extensions, conservatories or a porch
  • a garage or outbuilding
  • new or altered vehicle access
  • dormer windows or roof alterations
  • a wall or fence
  • new windows or doors

Visit pre-application advice for more information and to book an appointment.

You can download and print decision notices from our website.

The application will be checked to ensure all the necessary documentation and the correct fee has been submitted.

If it has, the application will be made valid and a letter sent to the applicant/agent, including the key details of the application and a target date for a decision.

We aim to validate applications within 5 working days.

If all of the required information isn't submitted, the information is incorrect and/or the correct fee hasn’t been submitted the applicant/agent will be contacted and given 28 days to provide the necessary information and/or fee.

The application won't be processed any further until we have the information we need.

The curtilage of a listed building is normally considered to be the building itself, along with all the other buildings and land that makes up the property.

Buildings or structures that date after 1 July 1948, and which are unattached to the listed building, are not considered to be curtilage listed.

Typically, structures covered by curtilage listing might include:

  • walls
  • gate
  • railings
  • gatehouses
  • stables
  • urns
  • statues
  • dairies
  • barns
  • privies
  • cart sheds 

To demolish, alter or move any such structure, you will need to apply for Listed Building Consent.

If you want to make an application, you can do this online via the national planning portal.

The first step for any application is to check we have all the information we need. This is known as validation.

We aim for this process to take 5 working days.

Once we know the application is valid it generally takes between 8 and 13 weeks to process and make a decision.

In most cases, there is a fee for submitting a planning application.

However for some planning consents, such as listed building and planning permission for a relevant demolition in a conservation area, no fee is required.

Householder full planning application fees range from:

  • Alterations/extensions to a single dwelling house, including works within boundary - £206
  • Full planning applications - £407

Our planning fees and charges web page provides more information on the various current planning fees.

You can also calculate your planning fee using the planning fees calculator on the Planning Portal.

The current local land search charges can be found on our land charges page.

You can pay for your planning application a number of ways:

Visit our pay for your planning application page for more information on how you can pay for your application.

If your property has a number, you can give the house a name, or change the name of it as you wish.

For further information, visit the street naming and numbering section on our website.

These are not planning matters and we are unable to answer these types of question.

They are land ownership issues for which you may need to get legal advice.

The responsibility for fences around your property and your boundary may be shown in the deeds to your property.

The lender often holds these if you have a mortgage.

Building regulations apply to most types of building work and set minimum standards to ensure the safety of people in and around buildings.

You will need to submit an application for Building Regulations approval if you plan to:

  • Build a new dwelling or non-domestic building
  • extend a building, such as a kitchen extension or an attached garage
  • alter a building, such as removing a load-bearing wall or a chimney stack, or forming an opening in a structural or fire-protecting wall
  • underpin all or part of a building
  • convert a loft or make a new room in the roof space
  • install services and fittings such as showers, toilets, replacement glazing, central heating systems, boilers, flues, renewable energy systems, laying new drains or altering electrics
  • change the use of a building, for instance convert a house to flats or make more than one dwelling
  • put up a large conservatory where the floor area is greater than 30 metres squared. A conservatory less than 30 metres squared is exempt if: at least 75% of the roof and 50% of the walls are of translucent material
  • it is thermally separated from the dwelling by walls, windows and doors with U-values and draught stripping provision at least as good as elsewhere in the dwelling and
  • the heating system of the dwelling is not extended into the conservatory
  • carry out work to thermal elements, for example re-plastering, replacement roofs (even if this only new or replacement "felt"), external rendering/cladding or new ground floor
  • alter or extend   commercial premises such as schools and hospitals
  • carry out work to improve access to and/or provide facilities for disabled people

Book an inspection, see guidance and check fees.

An applicant may appeal against a refusal of planning permission, a condition of any approval or if a decision has not been made within a specified timescale.

A planning appeal may be considered by a Government Inspector at a public inquiry, informal hearing or by written representations.

  • The planning application process for householder applications
  • How householder planning applications are assessed
  • Conditions that have been attached to a householder planning permission

Visit our duty planning officer page for more information.

CIL means Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

The Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) (the ‘levy’) is a tool for councils in England and Wales to help deliver the things needed to support the development of the area.

The levy states that a planning obligation may only constitute a reason for granting planning permission for the development if the obligation is: 

  1. Necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms.
  2. Directly related to the development; and
  3. Fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the development

Further details on CIL can be found on our Community Infrastructure Levy webpage.

At the end of the assessment, the case officer will write their report.

The report is then considered by senior planning officers or our planning committee (a group of elected councillors) who have been trained in making planning decisions.

The majority of applications will be decided by senior planning officers under powers delegated to them by the committee.

The Planning Committee meets once a month to consider and determine planning applications that can’t be dealt with under delegated powers.

The application will either be approved, with or without conditions, or refused.

A written notice of the decision is sent to the applicant/agent and this includes notes on the right to appeal.

An offence occurs if a development involves unauthorised advertisements, works to protected trees or listed buildings, or if a formal notice has been served and it has not been complied with.

It's not an offence to carry out development without planning permission. However, it's risky without securing planning permission first. It can't be assumed that retrospective planning permission will always be granted for that development.

A breach of planning legislation may have occurred;

  • Where something has been built without planning permission
  • alterations have been made without planning permission
  • unauthorised works to Listed Buildings have been carried out
  • when the use of land or a building has altered without permission
  • when conditions attached to planning approvals have not been complied with
  • where unauthorised advertisements have been installed
  • unauthorised works to trees protected by Tree Preservation Orders (TPO); trees in Conservation Areas and rural agricultural hedgerows
  • unauthorised display of advertisements
  • The poor condition of land impacting on the visual amenities of the wider area.

Unauthorised works carried out can be a criminal offence.

You can find more information on our planning control and enforcement webpages.

A notice may be served on an unlisted building which is of special architectural or historical interest and is in danger of demolition or alteration which will affect its character.

A notice takes immediate effect and protects the building for a maximum of 6 months until either the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport lists the building or informs us that they do not intend to do so.

Whilst the notice is in place the building is subject to the same protection as a listed building and any works to it will require listed building consent.


A valid application will be publicised depending on its location and type of proposal:

  • a site notice displayed at the proposed development
  • notification by letter to neighbouring properties
  • a public notice in the local press

The application is then available for 21 days for people to comment on, and anyone can comment, even if they haven't received a letter.

We also consult specialist organisations, such as the Highways Authority, and different sections of our council. For example, Environmental Health on the development proposed.

They must also respond within the 21 days.

The consultation period is longer, normally 6 weeks, for larger applications.

A Section 106 agreement in its basic form is a developer agreement, often referred to as a ‘Planning Obligation’.

Some planning permissions are subject to a Section 106 agreement - securing contributions towards local infrastructure.

These agreements are a way of delivering or addressing matters that are necessary to make a development acceptable in planning terms. 

Visit our Section 106 agreements webpage or download and read our guide on Understanding Section 106 agreements [PDF, 0.2MB] from our Parish Planning Pack page.

This is where some or all permitted development rights (work that would not normally require planning permission) have been removed from a site or area.

An example would be to restrict development in a conservation area, that would otherwise not need planning permission to retain the character of that area.

May require building consent

You will require listed building consent to alter, demolish or replace any part of the listed building, or to extend or alter it in a manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Even fairly minor work, such as replacing an internal door might need consent. This will include where a modern door exists and you want to replace it with something more in keeping or traditional. This would usually be seen as a beneficial change, but it is nevertheless a change, and therefore the requirement for prior consent still stands.

Minor additions such as satellite dishes, flues and alarm boxes may also require prior consent.

May not require building consent

Kitchen units, bathroom fittings and decor can usually be changed without any need for listed building consent, providing they are not part of the historic fabric of the listed building.

Repairs may usually be carried out without listed building consent, providing they are done exactly like-for-like.

You would not require listed building consent to repair your windows by splicing in new timber to damaged patches, but you would need consent to replace the entire window, even if the replacement is an exact 'like-for-like' replica. This is seen as an alteration rather than a repair.

Visit our listed buildings advice and consent page for more information.

Permitted development allows for some works to be carried out without planning permission.

Works that can be carried out without planning permission, are called 'permitted development rights' (you may hear this referred to as "PD rights"), and include;

  • Alterations and maintenance to a building
  • certain minor works, including small extensions to houses. 

Improvements you can make under permitted development:

  • Building a porch
  • carrying out internal alterations
  • converting and occupy roof space
  • installing solar panels
  • installing a satellite dish
  • putting in a roof light or dormer windows
  • new doors or windows
  • side and rear extensions
  • loft conversions
  • outbuildings
  • decking under 30 centimetres high off the ground
  • garage conversions
  • construction of a new driveway of porous materials, or non-porous if provision for drainage is provided on the property.
However, where planning permission is not required, it may be necessary to get separate approval under building regulations or listed building consent.

For more details on permitted development rights, visit our permitted development webpage or visit the Planning Portal.

Pre-application advice is a good way of finding out whether your proposed development would likely be accepted and what issues there may be before your submitting your planning application.

We offer a pre-application advice service if you would like some pre-application planning advice and guidance before submitting your full planning application.

Our pre-application advice service is a paid for service.

One of our experts will review your proposals before you submit an application and advise you on the best way forward. This can save you time and money with your application in the long-run.

For more information or to book an appointment, visit our pre-application advice webpage.

Planning permission relates mainly to the correct use of land, the aesthetic appearance of the proposed building and the effect that the development will have on the general environment and neighbouring properties.

Planning also deals with listed buildings and conservation areas.

Building Regulations are concerned with the way in which the building is constructed, its structural stability, means of escape and fire precautions, weather resistance, energy conservation, sound insulation and access and facilities for people with disabilities.

local land charge search is necessary when someone is buying or re-mortgaging property or land.

Your solicitor should send us your application for a search, including a map of the property or land you want to buy or re-mortgage against.

We will then reveal any land charge registrations for the search.

Searches may show conservation areas, improvement or renovation grants, planning applications and highway agreements.

Find out more information about Local Land searches.

A valid application is passed to a case officer for initial review and to make a site visit.

If after that visit, or in response to consultation responses, changes need to be made to the application, the case officer will work with the applicant/agent to make an amendment to the original proposal.

If the changes are considered significant we'll consult people again for an additional 14 days.

If the changes are considered minor, we'll make a decision without further publicity.

Planning permission is required for:

  • Building and engineering works
  • Changes to use of a building or land
  • Display of advertisements
  • Alterations to listed buildings, and
  • Demolition of buildings in conservation areas.

Internal alterations to a building (that isn't listed) and certain minor works, including small extensions to houses, can be carried out without planning permission. 

For more information on what needs planning permission visit our Do I need planning permission webpage.

We advise you to visit the national planning portal to check if you need planning permission before starting any work.

Homeowners can also contact us on 03450 455 215 to book an appointment to speak to our duty planning officer for a free 15-minute advice consultation.

Alternatively you can visit our planning permission section of our website.

We also offer a more detailed paid for pre-application advice service.

A 'Change of Use' to a building or land doesn’t always require planning permission if both the present and proposed uses fall within the same ‘class’ as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987.

It’s also possible to change use between some classes without making an application.

Applications for planning permission are always required for material changes of use involving amusement centres, theatres, scrap yards, petrol filling stations, car showrooms (except for material changes of use from car showrooms to A1 uses), taxi and care hire businesses and hostels.

Visit our Change of Use webpage or visit the Change of Use page on the planning portal for more information.

You can find and download paper planning application forms from the Planning Portal.

More information on how to apply for planning permission can be found on our apply for planning permission webpage.

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