Planning permission or building approval?

Our lawyer, Katharine Marshall, explains the difference between planning permission and building regulations approval
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur (
Question: I want to build an extension to my house. What's the difference between planning permission and "building regulations approval"?

Answer: Planning permission is required whenever a landowner or developer wants to develop or change the use of a property. To obtain planning permission, you apply to your local authority before beginning work/changing the use.

The local authority decides whether to grant planning permission (unconditionally or subject to conditions) or to reject the application. An extension to a property in very specific circumstances may not, however, require planning permission if it is what is known as a "permitted development".

We recommend that you contact your local planning authority to find out if your proposed extension falls within the definition of "permitted development".

Whether or not planning permission is needed, all new works will require building regulations approval, which sets a minimum standard for construction.

Whereas planning permission relates to permission to build, building regulations approval deals with the standard of construction of any building. To obtain approval, you can either apply to the local authority or to an approved inspector in the private sector.

What's your problem?

If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (

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