Wednesday 2nd March, 2016
What is the difference between building regulations and planning permission?
Some people think building regulations and planning permission are the same thing. In fact, they each have a specific function.
Building regulations are in place to set the standard for buildings' design and construction. They ensure health and safety requirements are observed. They make sure fuel and power are conserved. They also stipulate that suitable facilities are available so that everyone, including disabled people, can access buildings and move around them safely once inside.
Planning permission governs how our urban and countryside areas are developed. It covers the appearance of buildings, the use of the land, landscaping, access and what kind of impact the development is likely to have on the surrounding environment.
On many occasions, separate permission will be required to adhere to building regulations and planning permission.
For some building work, including interior alterations, building regulations approval is required, but planning permission is not necessarily needed. If you're planning any type of development or alterations, you should contact your local planning authority to find out exactly what is required legally, to avoid falling foul of either set of regulations.
It's vitally important to understand the fundamental difference between building regulations and planning permission. They are governed by totally different sets of legislation.
The building regulations deal specifically with how a building is constructed. In particular, they cover its structural stability; fire safety regulations; the preparation of the site; whether the site is resistant to moisture; whether there are any toxic substances on site and whether the building is properly soundproofed.
They also cover: the building's ventilation; hygiene standards; waste disposal; drainage; protection from falling; protection from collisions and impact; the safety of heat-producing appliances; fuel and power conservation; disabled access; the safety of the glazing; and the safety of the electrical system.
It sounds complicated, but the process is surprisingly straightforward, as long as the correct technical standards are adhered to. The building regulations are monitored by the local council's building control officers.
Planning permission is controlled by a different set of legislation. It is concerned with the use of the land, a building's appearance, any landscaping requirements, the impact of the development on its surrounding environment and highways access.
It is also concerned with whether the planning application is in an area where there are listed buildings, a conservation area, or a tree preservation order. The planning permission is dealt with by the council's town planning services.
If you require planning permission for a development, it is wise to wait until the planning permission is granted before then submitting a building regulations application.
For further information on building regulations, there's a useful video on YouTube containing helpful advice and you should also contact your local council. It's preferable to know in advance which permissions you require for any new development or alterations.
It can be costly if you make an error and start building something without the proper permission. Although retrospective planning permission is granted in some cases, it can be expensive if permission is refused, as you may be required to pull down any buildings you have erected illegally.