Planning permission guidance for businesses

Planning permission guidance for businesses

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is asking if you can carry out a specified piece of building work to your property or business and being granted the right to do so, or refused.

What requires planning permission for businesses?

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.

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

For further information concerning the need for advertisement planning permission, please see the Department for Communities and Local Government's Guide to Advertisements and Signs.

Planning permission required

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

  • less than 1,000 square metres of floor space
  • less than 25% 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 not required

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.

For further information concerning agricultural developments please see the Department of Communities and Local Government's Farmer's Guide to Planning

The construction of new premises nearly always needs planning permission.

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 permission is not required.

In many cases, a change of use of a building or land does not require planning permission. Planning permission is not required 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)

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

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 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.

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. 

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. These areas are:

  • conservation area
  • national park
  • area of outstanding natural beauty
  • World Heritage Site
  • Norfolk or Suffolk Broads
For more details on permitted development rights visit the Planning Portal.

Read about permitted development rights for householders in the gov.uk technical guide.

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.

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.

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.

Planning permission is required:

  • if you need to extend your house specifically to accommodate the new business
  • when you home isn't mainly used for a private residence
  • if you business results in an increase in traffic or people calling
  • if you business involves any unusual activities in the residential area
  • if your business disturbs your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells

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