Planning Permission, Building Regulations and Listed Buildings: The basics, and what to be aware of

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15 March, 2024

What is Planning Permission and when is it required?

Under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990), planning permission is required for the carrying out on land of any development. A development is defined as the "carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, over or under the land, or the making of any material change in the use of any building or other land"

Planning Permission

Planning permission is primarily about consent - (a) whether you can do something, and (b) if so, whether it has to be done a certain way.


There are four main types of applications:

Full planning application

This type of application will include all the necessary details of the proposal such as detailed drawings to allow the development to proceed once planning permission has been granted.

Householder application

This is specifically for householders, for example permission to build a garage or a conservatory.

Outline planning application

Outline planning permission is often used to establish whether the scale and nature of a proposed development is acceptable, fewer details about the development are need than a full planning application.

Reserved Matters application

If an outline planning application is approved then the reserved mattes must usually be approved before work can start, reserved matters can include details around access, appearance, landscaping etc. This must be submitted within 3 years of the outline application.

Generally, if your application is approved, you will have 3 years to begin work.


You will be in breach of Section 171A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 if:

You carry out development without the required planning permission; or

You fail to comply with any condition or limitation subject to which planning permission has been granted.

It is imperative that you are aware of the consequences of breaching planning control and that you do not rely on being able to obtain retrospective permission as most authorities do not allow this.


An Enforcement Notice will be issued if you are in breach of planning controls. This is serious and can require the works be removed completely. Enforcement Notices can be issued for up to:

  • 4 years for any operational development or change of use of a building to a single dwelling house.
  • 10 years for any other breach of planning control, which includes breaches of condition.


It is important to note that the above time limits do not apply to unauthorised developments which have been deliberately concealed by the owner or occupier. In this instance, the Local Authority can apply for an Enforcement Notice within 6 months of finding out about the unauthorised development, irrespective of how long the works have been completed for.

It is therefore imperative to ensure you have the correct permissions for any development, as it can be extremely expensive and time consuming to deal with the consequences if not.

When does Planning Permission not apply?

Permitted Developments

The Secretary of State may, by development order, grant deemed planning permission for specified developments or classes of developments. If developments to build schools can satisfy these criteria, then planning permission is not required.

The GDPO 2015 acts as a national grant of planning permission, which operates by giving deemed planning permission for certain developments, without the developer having to make formal applications for planning permissions through classes of development described as "permitted developments."

Included in these permitted developments are:

  • Class C: use as a state funded school (class F.1(a)) for two academic years);
  • Class CA: provision of a temporary state-funded school on previously vacant commercial land.

Class C: Use as a state funded school

Planning permission will be granted if the following conditions are met:

  • The site must be approved for use as a state-funded school by the Secretary of State who has responsibility for schools.
  • The Secretary of State must notify the LPA of the approval and the proposed opening date of the school.
  • The site can only be used as a state-funded school (and any ancillary purposes).
  • The permission is granted for two academic years and can only be used once in relation to a particular site.
  • Agricultural buildings which are in use as a temporary state-funded school can change use permanently to a state-funded school as permitted by Class S, Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO 2015.
  • Buildings that fall within Classes C1, C2, C2A, E and are in use as a temporary state-funded school can change permanently to a state-funded school as permitted by Class T, Part 3 of Schedule 2 to the GPDO 2015.
  • The site reverts back to its previous lawful use at the end of the second academic year or when it is no longer required for use as a state-funded school (whichever is earlier).

The Development will not be permitted by Class C if:

  • The existing use of the site is not a class of use specified in Schedule 1 or 2 of the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. This means that if the existing use is a 'sui generis' use, then planning permission from the LPA will be required.
  • The site is or forms part of a military explosives storage area or safety area.
  • The Building is a listed building. If this is the case, then the process listed below will have to be followed.
  • The Building is a scheduled monument.
  • The Building is used for Class F.2 (local community) purposes.

Class CA: provision of a temporary state-funded school on previously vacant commercial land.

Class CA of the GDPO 2015 permits development consisting of temporary school buildings on vacant commercial land and the use of that land as a state funding school falling within class F.1(a) (provision of education) for up to three academic years. The school must be on a site that was previously used for specific commercial purposes, on which now all buildings have been demolished.

Planning permission will be granted subject to the following conditions:

  • The site must be approved for use as a state-funded school by the Secretary of State who has responsibility for schools.
  • The developer must obtain prior approval regarding transport and highways impacts, noise impacts, contamination risks, flooding risks and the siting and design of the development.
  • Development must begin within a period of three years starting with the prior approval date.
  • The permission is granted for three academic years and can only be used once in relation to a particular site.
  • Any building must be removed at the end of the third academic year (or, if earlier, when it is no longer required for a state-funded school). The land must be restored to its pre-development condition, or to the condition agreed between the LPA and the developer.

Development will not be permitted if:

  • New buildings would cover more than 50% of the site.
  • New buildings' total floor space would exceed 2,500 square metres.
  • Land was last used more than ten years before the date on which the developer applies for prior approval.
  • Site is, or forms part of a site of special scientific interest, safety hazard area or military explosives storage area.
  • Temporary building is within five metres of the boundary of the curtilage of adjacent residential land (within Class C of the Schedule to the UCO 1987).
  • Height of any new building provided would exceed seven metres.

Building Regulations

Building regulations are a set of standards designed to ensure a property is safe and comfortable to live in. They are also increasingly concerned with ensuring a property is energy efficient. These equally apply to schools.


Full Plans

This is the most thorough type of application and will include a full description of the proposed works, technical drawings, calculations and a plan. Providing the works meet the standards, you will receive a certificate within 8 weeks of completion.

Building Notice

This application is aimed at smaller projects and will need to include details such as a plan, however it doesn't require formal approval and work can commence 2 days after the notice is submitted.


A regularisation application is a retrospective application relating to previously unauthorised works. Providing the work complied with the relevant Building Regulations, a Regularisation Certificate will be issued.



Under s35 Building Act 1984, you can be fined for up to 2 years after completion of the works if they do not meet the relevant standards.

Enforcement Notice

Previously, there was a 12-month limit from completion of the work to issue an Enforcement Notice under s36 Building Act 1984. This is now 10 years under the Building Safety Act 2022, which came into force in April 2023 and is a significant increase in time.

The Local Authority can also seek an injunction at any time if there is a health and safety risk.

Listed Buildings

What is a Listed Building?

A Listed Building is one that is of special architectural or historic interest and is therefore considered to be of national importance and worth protecting.

The categories of Listed Buildings are as follows:

Grade 1 - buildings of exceptional interest.

Grade 2* - buildings of particular significance and more than special interest.

Grade 2 - buildings that are of special interest and worthy of protection.

Is it important to be aware that other parts of the demise can be Listed, and it does not only apply to the building itself. Thorough investigations should therefore be carried out to ensure you have all of the relevant information with regards to the proposed works and can therefore apply for the appropriate consent.


Unauthorised works to a Listed Building without the required consent is a criminal offence and could result in an unlimited fine or 2 years' imprisonment. A Listed Building Enforcement Notice can also be issued at any time.

Furthermore, in the event that you purchase a property which is subject to such a notice, even if you did not carry out the works, you will be liable for the costs of rectifying them. Thorough research is therefore key to ensure you are purchasing the property with full knowledge of the works that have been carried out.

Ultimately, it can be extremely costly to deal with the consequences of failing to comply with planning permission or building regulations, and it is crucial to undertake the correct investigations to understand the relevant consents that are required before proceeding with any development.

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