A summary of UK building and planning laws

When it comes to building or planning to build a home, office or permanent structure in the UK, there are many steps that need to be followed to ensure that no laws are broken. It may seem that those in power are creating problems at every turn, but these rules are put in place to ensure that any structure erected is in keeping with the surroundings and do not pose a risk to neighbouring properties or structures.

In England and Wales, the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990 lays down the regulations that must be followed with regards to building structures on privately owned land, or to extend a property or change usage of a room. The same Act is in force in Scotland with the rules being enforced since 1997. So what does the UK's building and planning act actually consist of?

Planning Permission: To be able to build a permanent structure, detailed plans must first be drawn up. These should include the size, location and architectural design of the structure. It should also detail the external building materials, number of proposed rooms, any off road access routes and purpose of intended use.

Once the plans are submitted to the local council offices, the plans will be reviewed and if accepted will be placed on display in various public locations around the intended build site. Neighbours will be notified within 3 days of an accepted application and will contain the following information:

Date of the application
The applicant name and address of any agent
The Council reference number relevant to the application
A description of the proposed development
The address of the site or location of land
A plan showing the site of the development in relation to neighbouring land

If planning permission is denied the council will provide you with details as to why. There is usually a window of 28 days to rectify and queries of points of refusal before resubmitting the plans. You are also entitled to appeal the council's decision.

Compulsory Purchase Orders:

One of the most disturbing features of the planning permission and Building Act is the compulsory purchase order. This allows certain people or companies to buy someone else's land should they wish to develop on it. Many CPO's are issued every year when it comes to building new train lines, airports or government buildings. When a CPO has issued the owner of the land is given a choice of a slightly above market value payment. If the owner refuses, a CPO is enforced and the actual market value will be paid. While the owner of the land can appeal, this usually leads to a fruitless result.

While a Compulsory Purchase Order can help with the progression of the infrastructure and public transport links across a country, they can cause a loss of earnings and cause a decrease in property value in surrounding areas.

The main points of The UK building and planning permission Act have been highlighted in this article. This is by no means an extensive list of the steps involved and only touches the surface of the very complicated world of local council and building rules. Given the complexity of such Acts, it is imperative to employ experts in the field and work through your ideas with them before submitting an application. To do so alone, would, at the very least pose a higher risk of rejection.

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