Your local planning authority (LPA) – usually the district or borough council – is responsible for deciding whether a proposed development should be allowed to go ahead. This is called planning permission.
Most new buildings, major alterations to existing buildings and significant changes to the use of a building or piece of land need this permission.
However, certain minor building works – known as permitted development – don't need planning permission. This is because the effect of such developments on neighbours or the surrounding environment is likely to be small – e.g. building a boundary wall below a certain height. Similarly, a change of land or building use is classed as permitted development if it's within the same use class. Visit our section on use classes
Other areas get special protection against certain developments. Reasons for special protection include:
Occasionally, large proposals or controversial applications of national significance are 'called in' to be decided by the First Secretary of State instead of the LPA.
Please note that Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work. Learn more about the difference between Planning Permission and Building Regulations.
The first time you hear about a proposal for a new development which affects you may be through the developer's own public consultation process. This type of research is common for large-scale proposals, as it helps the developer gauge how their application might be received.
Once your LPA has received a formal planning application, it will display public notices and/or write to homes and businesses near the proposed site – inviting comments. Most LPAs publish details online too, with larger developments also advertised in local newspapers.
You can view the details of a proposal – including architectural drawings – at the LPA offices.
Your LPA will set a time period during which it will consider comments on a planning application. For your views to be taken into account, you must submit them before this deadline.
LPAs often consult a large number of organisations before reaching a decision. This normally includes parish councils – who may have their own informal parish plans which are not included in the statutory scheme. If it's relevant, the LPA may also consult organisations with special expertise – e.g. the Environment Agency or English Heritage – about a particular planning application.