WHERE LOCAL BUSINESS GROWS

Premises

If you are thinking of making changes to your business premises, you may need planning permission. Find out what this involves, along with information about other common building-related issues.


You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building - eg building an extension
  • change the use of your building
To find out if your project will need planning permission, contact your local planning authority (LPA).

Applying for planning permission


You can apply for planning permission online.

If your project needs planning permission and you do the work without getting it, you can be served an ‘enforcement notice’ ordering you to undo all the changes you have made.

It’s illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it.

When you don't need it

Some building projects don’t need planning permission. This is known as ‘permitted development rights

Building projects that normally have permitted development rights include:

  • industrial premises and warehouses - though there are some limits and conditions
  • some outdoor signs and advertisements - though there are special rules around these
  • demolition - but before you begin you must get approval to demolish from your local planning authority
There are other projects that might not need planning permission, eg projects that will have no impact on your neighbours or the environment. If you think this could apply to your project, check with your Local Planning Authority.

Community Rights in England

If your building project benefits the local community, and the community supports it, you may not have to go through the normal planning permission process. Neighbourhood planning and Community Right to Build lets your community grant planning permission directly under certain circumstances.

After you apply

Your local planning authority (LPA) will decide whether to grant planning permission for your project based on its development plan. It will not take into account whether local people want it.

To decide whether a planning application fits with its development plan, an LPA will look at:

  • the number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings
  • the infrastructure available - eg roads and water supply
  • any landscaping needs
  • what you want to use the development for
  • how your development would affect the surrounding area - eg if it would create lots more traffic
In most cases, planning applications are decided within 8 weeks. In England, for unusually large or complex applications the time limit is 13 weeks. If the decision takes longer, you can appeal.

Under legislation that came into effect in England on 6 April 2010, extension or alteration of an industrial building or is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions shown below.

Specific to industrial buildings and warehouses:

  • No new building to be higher than 5m, if within 10m of the curtilage boundary. In other cases no new building to be higher than the highest building within the cartilage boundary or 15m - whichever is lower
  • No new building to exceed gross floor space of 100 square metres
  • Until 30 May 2016 outside designated land and sites of special scientific interest no new building to exceed gross floor space of 200 square metres.
Specific to extending or altering industrial buildings and warehouses:

  • No extension or alteration to make building higher than 5m, if within 10m of the curtilage boundary. In all other cases any extension or alteration must not be higher than the building being extended or altered
Applicable to all:

  • Development must be within the cartilage of an existing industrial building or warehouse
  • No development to come within 5m of the curtilage boundary
  • No development within the curtilage of a listed building
  • Until 30 May 2016 the cumulative limit for new buildings and extensions must not exceed the gross floor space of the original buildingby more than 50% or 1,000 square metres, whichever is lesser
  • On designated land the cumulative limit for new buildings and extensions is 10% of original building or 500 square metres, whichever is lesser
  • Until 30 May 2016 in sites of special scientific interest the cumulative limit for new buildings and extensions is 25% of the original building or 1,000 square metres, whichever is lesser
  • On designated land any new, extended or altered buildings to use materials similar in external appearance to those used for existing industrial building or warehouse
  • Developments that would reduce space available for parking or turning vehicles are not permitted development
  • Any new, extended or altered industrial building must relate to the current use of the building, the provision of taff facilities or for research and development of products or processes
  • Any new, extended or altered warehouse must relate to the current use of the building or the provision of staff facilities
  • No new, extended or altered building to provide staff facilities:
  • Between 7pm and 6.30am, for employees other than those present at the premises of the undertaking for the purposes of their employment
  • At all, if a notifiable quantity of hazardous substance is present
Additional guidance

You are strongly advised to read all the interim guidance on the new permitted development rules.

Important notes

Where there is any doubt as to whether a development would be permitted development, advice from the local planning authority should be sought. To be certain that a proposed development is lawful and does not require an application for planning permission, it is possible to apply for a "Lawful Development Certificate” from the local authority.

A local planning authority may also have removed some permitted development rights by issuing what is known as an Article 4 Direction or may have removed those rights on the original, or any subsequent, planning permission for the site.

This will mean a planning application will be needed for development which normally does not need one. Before undertaking any development, checks should be undertaken with the local planning authority to determine whether any restrictions on permitted development have been made.

  • Industrial Building – means a building used for the carrying out of an industrial process and includes a building used for the carrying out of such a process on land used as a dock, harbour or quay for the purposes of an industrial undertaking and land used for research and development of products or processes, but does not include a building on land in or adjacent to and occupied together with a mine

  • Warehouse – means a building used for any purpose within Class B8 (storage or distribution) of the Schedule to the Use Classes Order but does not include a building on land in or adjacent to and occupied together with a mine.

  • The ‘erection’ of a building or warehouse will involve the establishment of a new building that is not physically joined to any wall of an existing building on the site.

  • The curtilage normally comprises the area of land surrounding the premises. However, in some cases, it may not comprise all of the land in which the premises sits. Where there is any doubt as to what the curtilage comprises, we strongly advise that you contact your local planning authority for advice

  • Height of the highest building – should be calculated as the height of the ridge line of the main roof (even if there are roofs with ridge lines at a lower or higher level) or the height of the main roof where roofs on a building are flat or mono-pitched.Any protrusions, such as chimneys, flues, plant and machinery and antennae above the roof should not be taken into account when considering the height of the highest building within the curtilage. However, when calculating the height of any building being erected, extended or altered, the measurement should be to the highest part of the new building, extension, or alteration and should include any protrusions above the roof.

  • Original building - The original building is defined as a building as it existed on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). or as it was built when built after 1 July 1948. The original building will therefore not include any extension to a building that has been built at any time since 1 July 1948. The original building does not, however, include any new building that has been built at any time without the need for planning permission as a result of the legislation introduced on 6 April 2010.There may be more than one original building within the curtilage of the premises. Where this is the case, and the buildings are used for the same undertaking, they will be treated as a single original building for the purposes of measurement. Thus the gross floor space of the original building will be calculated on the basis of the gross floor space of every original building within the curtilage of the premises.

  • Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

  • Hazardous substances - A ‘Notifiable quantity’ of a hazardous substance is as set out in Schedule 1 to The Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 1992 as amended.

  • Employee facilities – means social, care or recreational facilities provided for employees of the undertaking, including crèche facilities provided for the children of such employees.

You may need to apply for advertisement consent to display an advertisement bigger than 0.3 square metres (or any size if illuminated) on the front of, or outside, your property (be it a house or business premises).

Therefore, you are unlikely to need consent for a small sign with your house/building name or number on it, or even a sign saying 'Beware of the dog'.

Temporary notices up to 0.6 square metres relating to local events, such as street parties and concerts, may also be displayed for a short period. There are different rules for estate agents' boards, but, in general, these should not be bigger than 0.5 square metres. 

The planning regime for larger, professional adverts, signs for businesses and so on is complex though all outdoor advertisements must comply with five 'standard conditions'.

They must:

  • be kept clean and tidy
  • be kept in a safe condition
  • have the permission of the owner of the site on which they are displayed(this includes the Highway Authority if the sign is to be placed on highway land)
  • not obscure, or hinder the interpretation of, official road, rail, waterway or aircraft signs, or otherwise make hazardous the use of these types of transport
  • be removed carefully where so required by the planning authority.
You can also always contact your local planning authority for further advice.

Building Regulations

Domestic adverts and signs are not normally subject to building control.

However, they must 'be kept in a safe condition' as required by the conditions above.

Disclaimer

This is an introductory guide and is not a definitive source of legal information. This guidance relates to the planning regime for England. Policy in Wales may differ. If in doubt contact your Local Planning Authority.

If your application is refused, try to come to an agreement with the local planning authority (LPA) by adjusting your plans.

If you can’t reach an agreement, you can appeal.

Appeals can take several months to be decided.

What you can appeal against

You can only appeal against a decision if the LPA:

  • refuses your application
  • grants permission but with conditions you object to
  • refuses to change or remove a condition of planning permission that has been granted with conditions
  • refuses to approve something reserved under an ‘outline permission’ – planning permission for a general idea, not of a specific plan
  • refuses to approve something that you were told to build by your LPA as part of a previous planning permission (ie the previous planning permission was granted ‘with conditions’ and the current development was one of the conditions)
  • does not make a decision on the application within the deadline and doesn’t get your written consent to change the deadline
  • serves you with an enforcement notice because it thinks you have broken planning permission and you don’t agree

You must use a builder or scaffolding contractor who is trained and competent if you want to put up scaffolding.

It’s the responsibility of the builder or scaffolding company to get a licence for any scaffolding they put up on the highway (this includes the pavement).

But it’s your responsibility to check they have this legal document and that it doesn’t run out before the building work is finished.

Your local council may have a list of approved scaffolding contractors.

Safety

If there’s a risk to the public, schedule scaffolding work for quiet times or get a highway closure from your local council.

By law, you must check scaffolding to make sure it’s safe:

  • before you first use it
  • every 7 days while it’s up
  • after alterations, damage or extreme weather conditions

You can use CCTV to protect your property but you must follow the Data Protection Act.

You must:

  • put up a sign to let people know CCTV is being used and why
  • be able to provide images within 40 days to anyone you’ve recorded (you can charge up to £10 for this)
  • share images with the authorities, eg the police, if they ask for them
  • keep images only as long as your business needs them
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has guidance on how to use CCTV cameras and storing images.

During working hours the temperature in all indoor workplaces must be reasonable.

There’s no law for minimum or maximum working temperatures, eg when it’s too cold or too hot to work.

However, guidance suggests a minimum of 16ºC or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work.

There’s no guidance for a maximum temperature limit. Employers must stick to health and safety at work law, including:

  • keeping the temperature at a comfortable level
  • providing clean and fresh air
Employees should talk to their employer if the workplace temperature isn’t comfortable.

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rates how energy efficient your building is using grades from A to G (with ‘A’ the most efficient grade).

When you need an EPC

You must have an EPC if:

  • you rent out or sell the premises
  • a building under construction is finished
  • there are changes to the number of parts used for separate occupation and these changes involve providing or extending fixed heating, air conditioning or mechanical ventilation systems

You can be fined between £500 and £5,000 based on the rateable value of the building if you don’t make an EPC available to any prospective buyer or tenant.

When you must display one

You must display an EPC by fixing it to your commercial building if all these apply:

  • the total useful floor area is over 500 square meters
  • the building is frequently visited by the public
  • an EPC has already been produced for the building’s sale, rental or construction

How much it costs

The cost of an EPC will depend on the building being assessed. All EPCs are valid for 10 years.

How to get a certificate

You can only get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) from a commercial energy assessor.

The type of assessor you’ll need will depend on the complexity and features of the building. If you need advice on choosing one, speak to a commercial (non-domestic) energy assessor or contact the approved accreditation scheme they belong to.

Exemptions

You don’t need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) if you can demonstrate that the building is any of these:

  • listed or officially protected and the minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter it
  • a temporary building only going to be used for 2 years or less
  • used as a place of worship or for other religious activities
  • an industrial site, workshop or non-residential agricultural building that doesn’t use much energy
  • a detached building with a total floor space under 50 square metres
  • due to be demolished by the seller or landlord and they have all the relevant planning and conservation consents

Vacant buildings and demolition

A building is also exempt if all of the following are true:

  • it’s due to be sold or rented out with vacant possession
  • it’s suitable for demolition and the site could be redeveloped
  • the buyer or tenant has applied for planning permission to demolish it

Appeal a penalty charge

You can ask for a review if you get a penalty charge notice. The notice will tell you how to do this. If the review fails you’ll get a letter confirming your penalty.

You can then appeal to the county court (or sheriff court in Scotland) but you must do this within 28 days of receiving your confirmed penalty.

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