Planning permission guidance for businesses

Planning permission guidance for businesses
You may need planning permission if you're intending to carry out a specified piece of building work to your business.


What a business may need planning permission for;

  • Building and engineering works
  • changes to use of a building or land
  • display of advertisements
  • alterations to listed buildings
  • demolition of buildings in conservation areas

It’s your responsibility to seek planning permission.

Always check if you need planning permission

To help you find out if you need to apply for planning permission and for examples of common building works projects, visit the planning portal.

Failure to seek and obtain planning permission or comply with the details of a permission granted, is a ‘planning breach’.

Download and read our self-help guide to The Need for Planning Permission from our Parish Planning Pack page.

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business.

If the answer to any of the following questions is "yes", then permission will probably be required:

  • Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • your business may result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
  • will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • your business disturbs your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?
  • you need to extend your house specifically to accommodate the new business?

In many cases, a Change of Use of a building or land does not 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 is also possible to change use between some classes without making an application.

Use classes:

  • Shops (A1)
  • Financial and Professional Services (A2)
  • Food and Drink (A3-5)
  • Business (B1)
  • General Industrial (B2)
  • Distribution and Storage (B8)
  • Hotels (C1)
  • Residential Institutions (C2)
  • Dwelling Houses (C3)
  • Houses in Multiple Occupation (C4)
  • Non-Residential Institutions (D1)
  • Assembly and Leisure (D2)

You can read more about changing the use of your building via our change of use web page.

Minor extensions, including the erection of additional buildings within the curtilage, may not need planning permission, however do always check with us first.

Planning permission will not normally be required if your extension is:

  • less than 1000 square metres of floor space
  • less than 25 per cent of the volume of the original building
  • below the height of the original building

The extension must be related to the current use of the building or the provision of staff facilities.

Planning permission will be required if the extension:

  • materially affects the external appearance of the building
  • comes within five metres of the boundary of the site
  • reduces the amount of space available for parking or turning of vehicles

Planning permission will not normally be required if your extension is:

  • less than 50 square metres of floor space or less than 25 per cent of the gross floor space of the original building (whichever is lesser)
  • below the height of the building being extended or, if within 10 metres of a boundary, five metres high
  • if within a Conservation Area, extensions must be constructed using materials which have a similar external appearance to those used for the building being extended

The extension must be related to the current use of the building. Planning permission will be required if the extension:

  • comes within five metres of the boundary of the site
  • would be within a Listed Building

Alterations to office buildings can also be permitted outside Conservation Areas, subject to the same restrictions above, but can only be at ground floor level. 

The construction of new premises nearly always needs planning permission.

For further information concerning the need for advertisement consent please consult the DCLG's Guide to Advertisements and Signs.

For further information concerning agricultural developments please consult the DCLG's Farmer's Guide to Planning

You may need separate listed buildings approval where planning permission is not required.

To find out if your property is a listed building please use our friendly planning search map.

A building is listed when it is of special architectural or historic interest and it is therefore given legal protection and control over what changes can be made to a to the whole building – it’s interior and exterior.

Listed buildings come in three categories:

  • Grade I - are of exceptional interest and make up 2.5% of all listed buildings
  • Grade II* - are of more than special interest and make up 5.5% of all listed buildings
  • Grade II - are of special interest and make up 92% of listed buildings

If you wish to alter or extend a listed building in any way, you must apply for listed building consent from us.

Carrying out any unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence and out planning enforcement team can prosecute offending individuals.

Some works can be carried out without planning permission, including:

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

These changes are called 'permitted development rights'.

However, where planning permission is not required, it may be necessary to get separate approval under building regulations or listed building consent.

In some parts of the country, permitted development rights are more restricted:

  • Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site or
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

For more details on permitted development rights visit the Planning Portal.

Read about Permitted development rights for householders in the technical guide.

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

You may need separate building regulations approval where planning permissions is not required.

If you build something which needs planning permission without obtaining permission first, you may be forced to make changes later. This could prove to be very costly and may even result in legal action to require removal of the unauthorised works.

Failure to seek and obtain planning permission or comply with the details of a permission granted, is a ‘planning breach’.

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


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

To help you find out whether your proposed development would likely to be accepted and what issues there may be before your submitting your application, contact us to get some pre-application advice.

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