Planning permission and building regulations

In summary, planning permission relates to the development’s impact on its surrounding environment whereas building regulations ensure that the development is structurally safe, accessible, sustainable and considers the health and safety of its occupants.


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But they are both applications to your local council?

Yes, they often* are, and this is why planning permission and building control permission are often confused. However, you should note that:

  • building control applications and planning applications are sent to two separate council departments;
  • planning permission and building control are considered under entirely different legislation and guidance.


*’Going private’ for your building regulations compliance:

*For building regulations it’s also possible to make the application to an Approved Inspector. You would engage them privately as they operate independently from the local council. They have a very strict code of conduct, competency requirements and compulsory PI insurance.

Approved Inspectors generally will offer more flexibility and innovation to find the optimal design solutions, while also ensuring your project achieves full and total compliance with building regulations.


So I need both planning permission and building control permission?

For any projects that go beyond minor repairs and decoration you will almost certainly require building control permission prior to starting work.

Planning permission is not always required and many ‘typical’ home building and renovation projects fall under permitted development, where planning permission is not required. There are many minor home projects, including internal alterations that don’t need planning permission in most cases (except, for example, if your house is listed).


Can I make a planning application and building control application at the same time?

Theoretically yes, but it’s not common to do so. Planning applications are usually approved first. This is because their scope is more general and so don’t require the same level of design detail of a building control application.

Most clients would not want to pay for a detailed design package without the security of having obtained planning permission first. However, a good architect will consider both sets of regulations throughout the design process. In some cases, it may be wise to start speaking to the local council’s building control team (or an independant Approved Inspector) prior to or during the planning stage. There’s no point in having an approval planning application that could not effectively meet building control regulations.


What are different considerations for planning permission and building control consent?


The main crossover is sustainability and the environment, but the concerns of planning regulations and building control are generally distinct:


Planning permission:

  • Aesthetic appearance
  • Use
  • Light
  • Privacy
  • Traffic and public transport
  • Environmental impact

Building regulations:

  • Safety (structural, fire for example)
  • Accessibility
  • Health impacts
  • Energy conservation


Get professional advice

The above is mentioned as an introductory guide only. Please always consult your authority before starting work on your project. Your architect can do this on your behalf if you wish.

Choosing the right architect for your design project is a critical first step, but can also be a bit of a minefield. This is exactly why I set up this website in the first place!

As well as being founder of, I am also a qualified architect. I found that many homeowners search online to find an architect and discover well established or high-end practices (it makes sense – these companies have bigger marketing budgets with stylish websites). However, such practices are often too busy, too expensive and, in fact, often less experienced in dealing with small residential projects on ‘normal’ budgets.

So, I wanted to create this platform for those design professionals I know who are suitable, experienced and eager to take on domestic projects like yours. They include small, young practices or freelancers. The problem was that, before Design for Me, they were very difficult to find! All you need to do is tell us a bit about your project…

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