What is Retrospective Planning Permission, And Why Might You Need it?


Obtaining planning permission is a crucial step when undertaking substantial property modifications, or constructing an entirely new building. We strongly advise seeking planning permission if you have any uncertainties about whether your project requires it.

Once your planning permission is granted, you will receive a document that essentially acts as a green light for your project to proceed, offering you the vital reassurance you need.

Proceeding without planning permission can have severe consequences, including potential criminal charges, invalidation of your insurance policy, or even an order to dismantle any unauthorized work.

What is retrospective planning permission?

If you are in a situation where you have made changes to a property that would usually require planning permission, but went ahead without obtaining it, the local council are able to retrospectively request a planning application for the completed work.

This request will be directed to the owner or occupier of the respective land.

It’s important to note that the local authority’s request for a planning application does not guarantee automatic approval (though around 78% of all retrospective applications are accepted, so remain positive). The application will follow the standard review process, subject to the same considerations as any other application.

If the retrospective planning application is rejected, the local authority has the power to issue an enforcement notice, compelling you to revert the property to its original state before the changes were made.

Retrospective Planning Permission refers to the approval sought after modifications have already been made to a property, and falls within the provisions of section 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

In most cases, these applications are triggered when someone lodges a complaint with the local authority, or an enforcement officer invites you to submit a retrospective planning application.

However, it is also possible for you to identify the oversight on your own and decide to rectify it, thus avoiding potential legal consequences, ensuring the validity of your home insurance, and preserving the possibility of selling your property in the future.

Navigating planning applications can involve various costs, including application fees, professional consultancy fees, and potential expenses related to surveys or assessments. Seeking guidance from property finance experts can be invaluable in understanding these costs and developing a tailored financial plan to support your project. Get in touch with our experts today.

When do you need to apply for it?

If you have intentions of constructing a new structure, making significant property changes, such as adding an extension, or altering the usage of your home, it is likely that you will have to apply for planning permission. To gather more information, get in touch with your Local Planning Authority (LPA) through your local council.

However, numerous home renovation projects fall under permitted development rights and do not require planning permission. This applies mainly to interior modifications, converting a garage or attic into a guest room, or upgrading windows and doors.

Keep in mind that specific conditions may apply if your property is a listed building. Hence, it is always prudent to verify the regulations with your Local Planning Authority to ensure compliance.

You can submit an application here.

Is there a time limit?

If you made alterations to your property several years ago, and throughout this time, you haven’t received any enforcement order, there is an option to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.

The Four-Year Rule pertains to Class C3 houses and flats, and it allows for lawful development status after continuous use for four years. By applying for a Lawful Development Certificate, you can confirm the legality of the project, provided you can demonstrate that people were aware of the changes, and there have been no objections.

On the other hand, the 10-Year Rule is relevant to other uses, such as C4 houses used as Multiple Occupations, as well as any other breaches of planning control, including changes of use. Under this rule, if you’ve maintained the changes for ten years without any enforcement action, you can seek a Lawful Development Certificate.

It’s essential to note that in some cases, action can still be taken even after the four and ten-year periods. For further information, it’s best to consult your local council.

There are often costs associated with planning applications, though speaking to one of our property finance experts could provide you with the tailored assistance you need.

Call us on 02920766565, or request a call back here to get in touch.