Guidance Print When is permission required?

What are permitted development rights?

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Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application. Permitted development rights are subject to conditions and limitations to control impact and to protect local amenity.

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What types of permitted development rights exist?

Permitted development rights are set out in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995, as amended. It is important to remember that the General Permitted Development Order has been amended many times since it was first consolidated in 1995. Developers will need to ensure that they have up-to-date information. The Planning Portal website’s ‘interactive house’ is a useful resource for understanding what householder development can be carried out under permitted development rights. Technical guidance on householder permitted development rights has been issued by the Government. 

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Do all areas in England have the same permitted development rights? 

There are a range of exclusions which apply to permitted development rights in England. For instance, there are protected areas known as article 1(5) land, these cover:

  • conservation areas
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • National Parks
  • the Broads
  • World Heritage Sites

There are other land areas known as article 1(6) land. Article 1(6) land covers land within a National Park, the Broads or certain land outside the boundaries of a National Park. There is also article 1(6A) land which is land excluded from permitted development rights allowing change of use of a property from class B1(a) office use to class C3 residential. Each relevant part in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order will specify what restrictions and exclusions apply to development in these areas.

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Are there limitations to permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are subject to national conditions and limitations (for example limits on height, size or location etc). Some permitted development rights are also in place for a limited period of time; these are set out in the relevant parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order. Special rules apply to permitted development rights where they relate to development specified in the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011. If the proposed development would fall into Schedule 1 or 2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, it would only be permitted where a local planning authority has issued a screening opinion determining that the development is not environmental impact assessment development, or where the Secretary of State has directed that it is not environmental impact assessment development, or that the development is exempt from the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations. There are some specific exceptions to this general rule. Article 3(10) to (12) of the General Permitted Development Order provides more detail on this. Special rules also apply to permitted development rights where development will have a significant effect on a European site or a European Offshore Marine Site. These are sites of the sort described in regulation 8 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, which have been designated under processes set out in those Regulations. Under article 3(1) of the General Permitted Development Order and regulations 73 to 76 of the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010, a development must not be begun or continued before the developer has received written notice of the approval of the local planning authority.

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Can permitted development rights be removed?

Permitted development rights can be removed by the local planning authority, either by means of a condition on a planning permission, or by means of an article 4 direction. The restrictions imposed will vary on a case by case basis and the specific wording of such conditions or directions.

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Can local planning authorities tailor permitted development rights to their own circumstances?

Permitted development rights can be expanded via a Local Development Order or Neighbourhood Development Order, or, they can be withdrawn via an article 4 direction.

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Is it necessary to apply for planning permission where there are permitted development rights?

Where a relevant permitted development right is in place, there is no need to apply to the local planning authority for permission to carry out the work. In a small number of cases, however, it may be necessary to obtain prior approval from a local planning authority before carrying out permitted development. Permitted development rights do not override the requirement to comply with other permission, regulation or consent regimes.

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Is it necessary to contact the local planning authority before carrying out work under permitted development rights?

For the purposes of planning, contact with the local planning authority is generally only necessary before carrying out permitted development where:

  • prior approval from the local planning authority is required in advance of development
  • the neighbour consultation scheme applies
  • the local planning authority has a Community Infrastructure Levy in place which requires developers to contact the local planning authority before carrying out permitted development. Failure to do this may result in the local planning authority imposing a surcharge on a developer.
  • the permitted development rights require the developer to notify the local planning authority of a change of use

The relevant parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order set out the procedures which must be followed when advance notification is required.

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What if it’s not clear whether development is covered by permitted development rights?

If it is not clear whether works are covered by permitted development rights, it is possible to apply for a lawful development certificate for a legally binding decision from the local planning authority.

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Is development carried out under the General Permitted Development Order liable to a Community Infrastructure Levy charge?

Development carried out using permitted development rights can be liable to pay a Community Infrastructure Levy charge. This depends on when development commences and whether there is a community levy charge in place. A developer would not be required to pay a charge where permitted development was commenced before 6 April 2013 or otherwise before a charging schedule was in effect. Where development is commenced after 6 April 2013 and a charging schedule is in place, they would be liable to pay a charge.

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What is prior approval? 

Prior approval means that a developer has to seek approval from the local planning authority that specified elements of the development are acceptable before work can proceed. The matters for prior approval vary depending on the type of development and these are set out in full in the relevant parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order. A local planning authority cannot consider any other matters when determining a prior approval application.

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What types of development require prior approval?

Prior approval is required for some change of use permitted development rights. Certain other types of permitted development including the erection of new agricultural buildings, demolition and the installation of telecommunications equipment also require prior approval. The matters which must be considered by the local planning authority in each type of development are set out in the relevant parts of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order.

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Is a prior approval application like a planning application?

The statutory requirements relating to prior approval are much less prescriptive than those relating to planning applications. This is deliberate, as prior approval is a light-touch process which applies where the principle of the development has already been established. Where no specific procedure is provided in the General Permitted Development Order, local planning authorities have discretion on what processes they put in place. It is important that a local planning authority does not impose unnecessarily onerous requirements on developers, and does not seek to replicate the planning application system.

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What kind of information will the developer have to supply in connection with a prior approval application?

This will vary on the particular circumstances of the case, and developers may wish to discuss this with the local planning authority before submitting their application. Local planning authorities may wish to consider issuing guidance, taking into account local circumstances and advice provided by the relevant statutory consultees. For example, this could set out whether a Flood Risk Assessment is likely to be required.

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What happens if a prior approval application is not determined by a local planning authority? 

For some permitted development rights, including prior approval for certain changes of use, if the local planning authority does not notify the developer of their decision within the specified time period, the development can proceed. The relevant Parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order set out where this applies. Where this is not the case, non-determination can be appealed under section 78(2)(a) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

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What is the neighbour consultation scheme?

The neighbour consultation scheme is a form of prior approval which only applies to larger extensions built under the increased permitted development rights that are in place between 30 May 2013 and 30 May 2016 for householder single storey rear extensions. A householder wishing to build a larger extension will notify the local authority, who will then consult the adjoining neighbours in relation to the potential impact on amenity. If they raise any objections, the local planning authority will make a decision on whether the impact on the amenity of adjoining properties is acceptable and hence whether the work can proceed. Further details of the scheme are available on the Planning Portal.

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Can a refusal of prior approval be appealed?

If an application for prior approval is refused, the applicant has a right to appeal the decision under section 78(1)(c) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. More information on this is available in guidance on planning appeals.

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What permitted development rights are time-limited?

A range of time-limited permitted development rights were brought into force in May 2013. Where these apply there are different types of time limits. Some allow development to be retained permanently but require that it is completed by a specified date. Others allow change of use development, but only for temporary periods of time. The following rights apply between 30 May 2013 and 30 May 2016. They allow development to be retained permanently provided that development is completed by 30 May 2016:

  • the size limits for householder single-storey rear extensions are increased from 4m to 8m for detached houses, and from 3m to 6m for all other types of houses. The new larger extensions are subject to a neighbour consultation scheme
  • the size limits for extensions to shops and professional/financial services establishments are increased to 100m2, or half of the original floor space, whichever is smaller. Extensions are allowed right up to the boundary of the property, unless it is a boundary with a residential property where a 2m gap will be retained
  • the size limits for extensions to offices are increased to 100m2, or half of the original floor space, whichever is smaller
  • the size limits for new industrial buildings within the curtilage of existing industrial premises are increased to 200m2
  • change of use from offices to residential

A further time-limited right which allows development to be retained permanently applies to telecommunications equipment. This right allows for new or replacement telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services to be located in article 1(5) without having to make an application for prior approval. This right applies for a period of 5 years beginning 30 May 2013 and ending 30 May 2018. The following are change of use permitted development rights that apply for temporary time periods:

  • change in use of a building in any use class to a state-funded school for a single academic year provided this has been approved by the minister with policy responsibility for schools;
  • change in use of a building from a use falling in class A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes), A4 (drinking establishments), Class A5 (hot food takeaways), B1 (business), D1 (non-residential institutions) and D2 (assembly and leisure) to a flexible use falling within Classes A1 (shops), A2 (financial and professional services), A3 (restaurants and cafes) or Class B1 (business) for a single continuous period of up to two years.

Full details on all of the above can be found in the relevant Parts of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order. Ministers will review time-limited permitted development rights in due course to determine whether they should be extended.

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What happens if physical building work or change of use is not completed by the date specified in the General Permitted Development Order?

If the physical development or the change of use is not completed by the date specified then enforcement action could be taken, or it may be necessary to make a planning application.

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Is it necessary to contact the local planning authority after completing work under permitted development?

Where the permitted development rights are time-limited (which means that the General Permitted Development Order specifies a date when the permitted development rights will expire), there is a requirement to notify the local planning authority when work has been completed. The relevant Parts in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order will specify when after development is completed the local planning authority should be notified.

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What is an article 4 direction? 

An article 4 direction is a direction under article 4 of the General Permitted Development Order which enables the Secretary of State or the local planning authority to withdraw specified permitted development rights across a defined area.

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What can an article 4 direction do? 

Provided that there is justification for both its purpose and extent, an article 4 direction can:

  • cover an area of any geographic size, from a specific site to a local authority-wide area
  • remove specified permitted development rights related to operational development or change of use
  • remove permitted development rights with temporary or permanent effect

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When is it appropriate to use article 4 directions?

The use of Article 4 directions to remove national permitted development rights should be limited to situations where this is necessary to protect local amenity or the wellbeing of the area. The potential harm that the direction is intended to address should be clearly identified. There should be a particularly strong justification for the withdrawal of permitted development rights relating to:

  •  a wide area (eg those covering the entire area of a local planning authority, National Park or Area of Outstanding National Beauty)
  • agriculture and forestry development. Article 4 directions related to agriculture and forestry will need to demonstrate that permitted development rights pose a serious threat to areas or landscapes of exceptional beauty
  • cases where prior approval powers are available to control permitted development
  • leisure plots and uses
  • the installation of microgeneration equipment

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Can all permitted development rights be withdrawn by an article 4 direction? 

Some permitted development rights cannot be removed via article 4 directions. These are set out in article 4(1) to (3) of the General Permitted Development Order. These exemptions are to ensure permitted development rights related to national concerns, safety, or maintenance work for existing facilities cannot be withdrawn.

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Does an article 4 direction mean that development is not allowed? 

An article 4 direction only means that a particular development cannot be carried out under permitted development and therefore needs a planning application. This gives a local planning authority the opportunity to consider a proposal in more detail.

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If permitted development rights have been withdrawn by an article 4 direction, is it necessary to pay a fee when making a planning application? 

If a planning application is required solely because permitted development rights have been removed by an article 4 direction, no planning application fee is payable.

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Is compensation payable where permitted development rights have been withdrawn? 

If a local planning authority makes an article 4 direction, it can be liable to pay compensation to those whose permitted development rights have been withdrawn, but only if it then subsequently:

  • refuses planning permission for development which would otherwise have been permitted development; or
  • grants planning permission subject to more limiting conditions than the general permitted development order

The grounds on which compensation can be claimed are limited to abortive expenditure or other loss or damage directly attributable to the withdrawal of permitted development rights.

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Where is there more information on compensation?

Compensation provisions are set out in sections 107 and 108 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and The Town and Country Planning (Compensation) (England) Regulations 2013 set out when time limits apply.

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Can an article 4 direction provide immediate protection?

Yes. There are two types of directions under the General Permitted Development Order: non-immediate directions under article 4 and directions with immediate effect under article 6. An immediate direction can withdraw permitted development rights straight away; however they must be confirmed by the local planning authority within 6 months of coming into effect to remain in force. Confirmation occurs after the local planning authority has carried out a local consultation.

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When can an immediate direction be used? 

The circumstances in which an immediate direction can restrict development are limited. Immediate directions can be made in relation to development permitted by Parts 1 to 4 and 31 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order, where the development presents an immediate threat to local amenity or prejudices the proper planning of an area. Immediate directions can also be made in relation to certain types of development in conservation areas. In all cases the local planning authorities must have already begun the consultation processes towards the making a non-immediate article 4 direction.

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Can article 4 direction be made where work has already started? 

Article 4 directions cannot prevent development which has been commenced, or which has already been carried out.

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What are the procedures for making an article 4 direction?

The procedures for making an article 4 direction are set out in article 5 of the General Permitted Development Order, and in article 6 for directions with immediate effect.

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Can an article 4 direction be modified or cancelled?

A local planning authority can cancel an article 4 direction by making a subsequent direction. A direction can be modified by cancelling the existing direction and replacing it with a new one. In both cases the normal procedures for making an article 4 direction apply.

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Can an article 4 direction remain in place permanently once it has been confirmed? 

An article 4 direction can remain in place permanently once it has been confirmed. However, local planning authorities should regularly monitor any article 4 directions to make certain that the original reasons the direction was made remain valid. Where an article 4 direction is no longer necessary it should be cancelled.

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Does an article 4 direction have to be submitted to the Secretary of State? 

A local planning authority must, as soon as practicable after confirming an article 4 direction, inform the Secretary of State via the National Planning Casework Unit. The Secretary of State does not have to approve article 4 directions, and will only intervene when there are clear reasons for doing so.

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What powers does the Secretary of State have?

The Secretary of State has the power to modify or cancel article 4 directions at any time before or after they are made, with the following exceptions:

  • directions with immediate effect removing permitted development rights under Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 31 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order may not be modified;
  • directions relating to listed buildings may not be modified;
  • directions relating to buildings notified as of architectural or historic interest may not be modified; and
  • directions relating to certain .development in conservation areas may not be cancelled or modified

The Secretary of State will not use their powers unless there are clear reasons why intervention at this level is necessary.

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Can an article 4 direction be used to withdraw permitted development rights for statutory undertakers? 

In exceptional circumstances when an authority considers that normal planning controls should apply, article 4 directions can be used to withdraw permitted development rights for statutory undertakers, except if it is development which falls into article 4(2) or 4(3) of the General Permitted Development Order.

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Can an article 4 direction be used to withdraw permitted development rights for Crown development?

In exceptional circumstances when an authority considers that normal planning controls should apply, article 4 directions can be used to withdraw permitted development rights for Crown Development, with the exception of the Crown development specified in article 4(2) of the General Permitted Development Order.

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Are there permitted development rights for change of use?

Yes. The General Permitted Development Order gives a national grant of planning permission to some changes of use.

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Do permitted development rights for change of use also allow for physical development?

Where associated physical development is required to implement the change of use, developers should consider whether it constitutes development and should ensure they have planning permission if necessary.

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After change of use has taken place, do buildings have the permitted development rights associated with the new use?

It varies as to whether, after change of use has taken place, buildings have the permitted development rights associated with the new use. Details are set out in the General Permitted Development Order. In most cases the associated permitted development rights cannot be exercised until the change of use has taken place.

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Do any permitted development rights for change of use require prior approval? 

Prior approval is required for some permitted development rights for change of use:

  • for change of use of agricultural buildings between thresholds of 150m2 and 500m2, prior approval is required for transport and highways impacts, flooding, contamination and noise
  • for permanent change of use to a state-funded school, prior approval is required for transport and highways impacts, contamination and noise
  • for change of use from B1(a) offices to C3 residential use, prior approval is required for transport and highways issues, contamination and flooding.

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Where can I find out if a particular office building is in an exempted area not subject to B1(a) offices to C3 residential permitted development rights? 

Maps of exempted areas are published at gov.uk publications – Areas exempt from office to residential change of use permitted development right 2013. Queries about the maps should be directed to the relevant local planning authority within which the building is situated.

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Are there any permitted development rights which allow movement between sui generis uses? 

There is only one permitted development right allowing movement between a sui generis use and other uses: a casino can change to D2 use.

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Do I need to apply for planning permission to demolish a building or structure?

Planning permission may be required to demolish a building. If planning permission is not required, you may still be required to seek prior approval from the local planning authority before demolishing a building. There are a number of factors that determine what permission or prior approval you will need before demolishing a building which are explained below.

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(a) Is demolition required as part of the redevelopment of the site?

Where the demolition of one or more buildings is required as part of a redevelopment, details of the demolition can be included in the planning application. This will enable the local planning authority the opportunity to consider demolition alongside other aspects of the development. Where appropriate, the local planning authority may impose conditions on demolition if planning permission is granted.

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(b) Is the scale of demolition proposed such that an Environmental Impact Assessment is required?

In some instances the scale of demolition alone may trigger the requirement for an environmental impact assessment. Guidance on this can be found in the Environmental Impact Assessment category. If demolition does trigger the need to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment then you will need to apply for planning permission.

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Are the buildings or structures to be demolished in a conservation area?

Buildings or structures which are in a conservation area are subject to stricter controls over demolition than when buildings are outside of a conservation area. Under section 196D of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 it is an offence to undertake “relevant demolition” of an unlisted building in a conservation area without the necessary planning permission.

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(c1) What permissions/prior approvals are required for demolition in a conservation area?

All demolition in conservation areas requires an application for planning permission to be made to the local planning authority, except that:

a) buildings with a volume not exceeding 50 cubic metres can be demolished without planning permission because this does not amount to development having regard to the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Demolition – Description of Buildings) Direction 2014.

b) demolition of buildings and structures listed in paragraph 31(1) of DETR Circular 01/2001, including:

  • any building with a volume of under 115 cubic metres (not included in (a) above); and
  • any gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure less than 1 metre high where abutting on a highway (including a public footpath or bridleway) waterway or open space; or less than 2 metres high in any other case;

is permitted development under Part 31 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.  No planning application is required because planning permission for the demolition is granted by the 1995 Order, subject to conditions set out in Part 31. For example, the prior approval of the local planning authority may be required as to the method of demolition and the proposed restoration of the site.

Note – Demolition is not permitted by Part 31 where the building  has been rendered unsafe or uninhabitable by the action or inaction of anyone having an interest in the land on which the building stands, and can be made secure through repair or temporary support.

No planning permission or prior approval is required for the demolition of listed buildings or scheduled ancient monuments.

It is an offence under section 196D of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 to undertake “relevant demolition” of an unlisted building in a conservation area without the necessary planning permission.

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(c2) What permissions/prior approvals are required for demolition outside conservation areas? 

Demolition outside conservation areas is permitted development under Part 31 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended. No planning application is required because planning permission for the demolition is granted by the 1995 Order, subject to conditions set out in Part 31. For example, the prior approval of the local planning authority may be required as to the method of demolition and the proposed restoration of the site.

Note – Demolition is not permitted by Part 31 where the building has been rendered unsafe or uninhabitable by the action or inaction of anyone having an interest in the land on which the building stands, and can be made secure through repair or temporary support.

But no application for planning permission or prior approval is required to demolish:

  • any building with a volume of under 50 cubic metres; and
  • the whole or any part of any gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure;

because these changes are not development having regard to the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Demolition – Description of Buildings) Direction 2014.

No application for planning permission or prior approval is required for the demolition of listed buildings or scheduled ancient monuments.

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(d) Why doesn’t the demolition of listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments require planning permission or prior approval?

An application for planning permission or prior approval is not required for the demolition of a listed building or scheduled ancient monument. This is because demolition of these types of building/structures is controlled by separate consent regimes. It is important to speak to your local planning authority before undertaking any demolition in relation to these types of building or structures to be clear on what consent processes apply.

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How do I get prior approval for demolition?  

Before undertaking demolition which is permitted development under Part 31 of Schedule 2 to the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 as amended, you must apply to the local planning authority, providing a written description of the proposed demolition. At the same time you must put up a site notice about the proposed demolition. The local planning authority will then determine whether prior approval is required for the method of demolition and any proposed restoration of the site. The local planning authority may then grant or refuse the prior approval. If, within 28 days of your application, the local planning authority has given no indication of whether prior approval is required or not, the demolition may begin without prior approval.

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Does a statutory undertaker have to notify a local planning authority before carrying out work under permitted development?

Not unless it is a condition in a relevant class in Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order that a statutory undertaker should give notice to a local planning authority before carrying out permitted development. However, if development is likely to have a significant local effect then, to provide fair warning to persons likely to be affected (including other statutory undertakers), these should be discussed with a local planning authority.

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When notified by a statutory undertaker of an intention to carry out permitted development are local planning authorities required to publicise the development?

Statutory undertakers carrying out development under permitted development rights are not subject to the same publicity requirements as a full planning application. However, public consultation may be beneficial if development is expected to have a particularly significant impact. In such instances consultation could be initiated by either the local planning authority or the statutory undertaker. Any consultation should allow adequate time to consider representations and, if necessary, amend proposals.

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What permitted development rights are there for fixed and mobile telecommunications? 

Part 24 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order specifies what permitted development rights there are for fixed and mobile telecommunications. This part also sets out what exceptions, limitations, and conditions apply to these permitted development rights.

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Is there any guidance for the siting and design of fixed and mobile electronic telecommunications equipment?

To ensure the siting and design of fixed and mobile electronic telecommunications equipment is acceptable, sector led codes of best practice have been published.

The code of best practice for fixed electronic telecommunications equipment, published on 7 June 2013, (Cabinet Siting and Pole Siting Code of Practice, Issue 1 – 2013, Fixed Line Code Operators) has been prepared by operators, agents, contractors, planning and highway authorities and other relevant organisations.

The code of best practice for mobile electronic telecommunications equipments, published on 24 July 2013 (Mobile Operators Association, Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England, 2013), has been prepared by operators, agents, planning, national parks, English Heritage and other interested parties.

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What is the status of the Government’s 2002 code of best practice for mobile phone network development?

The 2002 code of best practice has been superseded and replaced by a new code of best practice (Mobile Operators Association, Code of Best Practice on Mobile Network Development in England, 2013) issued in July 2013.

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Are there any other regulations that fixed and mobile operators have to adhere to?

In addition to the permitted development rights for both fixed and mobile electronic telecommunications, operators are required by Regulation 5 of the Electronic Communications Code (Conditions and Restrictions) Regulations 2003 to notify local planning authorities of their intention to install equipment.

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What permitted development rights are there for the installation of domestic and non-domestic microgeneration equipment?

Parts 40 and 43 of Schedule 2 to the General Permitted Development Order specify what permitted development rights there are for domestic and non-domestic microgeneration equipment. This part also sets out what exceptions, limitations, and conditions apply to these permitted development rights.

Parts 40 and 43 define the term ‘microgeneration’ by reference to section 82(6) and (8) of the Energy Act 2004: equipment may be considered microgeneration equipment if it has a capacity to generate electricity of 50 kilowatts or less, or produce heat of 45 kilowatts thermal or less.

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