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Commercial Planning Permission

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Great interaction. I had a simple question which would have cost a fortune going to see a local solicitor. It was all very professional but still friendly. The solicitor I spoke to was the chief executive of her law firm (I looked her up on LinkedIn). You are dealing with very good lawyers who earn additional money through Lawhive. I would definitely use this service again. Highly recommend.
Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
Tahir Idris,
04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
Julie Taylor,
01 June, 23
Fast and professional
I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
Jason Hunter,
23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
Jamie Crichton,
09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
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About

Commercial planning permission is a permission granted by a local authority to carry out a specific development on a property by a business. Solicitors can ensure that the application is made correctly and that the development is in line with the local authority's planning policies.Next steps

How much does a Commercial Planning Permission cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a Commercial Planning Permission is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £525-£700 but in some cases it could cost as much as £722.

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Understanding planning permission for commercial properties can be challenging.

Our network of commercial planning permission solicitors is on hand to help you secure commercial planning permission or appeal an enforcement notice.

Get in touch with our team today for a free case assessment.

What planning permission is needed for a commercial property?

Getting commercial planning permission can be complicated and time-consuming. If you own a business property or manage estates, you probably already know this. Different types of buildings, like offices, factories, warehouses, or shops, have their own rules for permission. Figuring out if you need permission depends on understanding these rules for your property and knowing what development you want to do.

When do you need to get planning permission for commercial property?

Commercial planning permission is required when a project aims to ‘carry out any development on land’, this statement is taken from the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990).

Typically, you’ll need planning permission if you plan to:

  • Build a new commercial property

  • Carry out large-scale renovations

  • Change the use of premises

  • Make a major structural change

  • Add an extension or additional floor space

We’ve written about permitted development rights previously, and they can come into play with commercial projects as well as residential.

Permitted development rights allow property owners to extend their buildings without the need to apply for planning permission. 

We’ll explain when planning permission is not required later in more detail. 

Do I need planning permission to change the use of a commercial property? 

You typically need planning permission if you're changing a building from one use class to another, whether you own the property or rent it. There are exceptions where planning permission may not be needed. For instance, if the proposed change falls within the same use class as the existing one, such as a shop becoming an office. Planning permission is usually necessary if building work is involved in changing the use class. It's advisable to consult a registered chartered surveyor before starting any work for which you may not yet have the necessary permissions.

Do I need planning permission for a commercial property extension?

It depends on the type of building you’d like to extend and the amount you wish to extend by. 

Let’s start with commercial office premises. If you’re planning an extension, or new building, with dimensions of 30 square metres or less you usually won’t need planning permission. 

For warehouses, planning permission isn’t required when:

  • The extension will be less than 5m in height and be 10m away from the property boundary

  • The extension will not be higher than the current building

  • The development is a temporary warehouse that will only be erected for 28 days or less

Minor alterations such as adding insulation or drywall will not require planning permission unless they change the property's use.

Do I need planning permission if I run my business from home?

Generally, planning permission is needed to change a building from a residence to a business premises. However, operating a business from a residential property doesn't automatically classify it as business premises. According to Government guidance, planning permission isn't usually required for home-based businesses as long as the property remains primarily a private residence. A home is only considered business premises if the business significantly alters the property's use, turning it from a single dwelling house to a commercial space. For instance, if the business operates solely on the ground floor while the upper levels remain living space, such as a takeaway with living quarters above.

Who enforces commercial planning permission?

Your local planning authority is in charge of enforcing planning permission in your area. If there's a suspected breach of planning rules, the local authority can investigate and take enforcement action if needed. It's best to be cautious and consult your local planning authority before starting any building work or property changes to determine if planning permission is needed. If planning permission hasn't been granted, the authority can issue an enforcement notice.

How long does commercial planning permission last? 

In England, developers typically have a three-year window to start work after receiving planning permission. Local authorities may extend this time limit depending on the project's complexity and their assessment of the necessary duration for the work. If work hasn't commenced within the three-year timeframe, developers will need to reapply for planning permission for their commercial property. Acting promptly increases the likelihood of completing the work within the specified timelines and avoids the need for reapplying for planning permission.

Are there any exceptions where planning permission might not be needed for commercial properties?

You may not need planning permission if your proposed work is considered a permitted development under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. To determine whether planning permission is required or if your development qualifies as permitted development, you can apply to your local planning authority for a certificate of lawful development. Examples of exceptions include certain extensions, minor changes to walls and fences, and internal modifications like knocking down walls. While planning permission isn't needed for commercial air conditioning, you might still require permission to install the air conditioning unit itself.

How to secure planning permission for commercial property

You can apply for planning permission from your local authority. On their website, they will include the forms you need to submit and fill in when you’re making an application. 

Before you rush to download the forms make sure you’re on the path for the correct planning permission for your project. There are two main types of planning permission:

  • Full planning permission: when you make an application for a decision based on detailed plans 

  • Outline planning permission: when you request a decision on the outline of a development, further approval will be required via full planning permission for the project specifics

The next step is to prepare your application.

You’ll need to prepare plans and drawings developed by a professional surveyor. Then you’ll need to gather evidence supporting your ownership of the land, one of our experienced commercial property solicitors can ensure you have the right documents to hand. 

When you’re confident that you’re prepared and your legal support is convinced your application is ready you can submit it along with the supporting documents and evidence and await the decision of the planning authority.

After submission, be prepared for a potentially lengthy wait for a decision, which can take up to six months or more.

How much does it cost to apply for commercial planning permission?

For commercial planning applications, fees vary depending on the type and scale of the development, ranging anywhere from £120 to £405,000 in some cases.

You can find specific information on commercial planning application fees in The Town and Country Planning (Fees For Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests, and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012.

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with a commercial planning permission is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £525-£700 but in some cases, it could cost as much as £722.

What documents and information are required when submitting a commercial planning permission application?

When applying for planning permission you should provide all the necessary documents and information for your commercial planning permission application to be valid. 

Your application will need to include the following information:

  • Drawings of the completed plans – location plan and site plan

  • Supporting documents

  • Planning application form

  • Application fee

You’ll need to include the following documents:

  • Ownership certificate A, B, C or D

  • Agricultural holdings certificate – required for all sites whether or not they have an agricultural holding

  • Design and access statement – explains the design principles that have been used in the plans and identifies how access issues have been overcome

  • Fire statement – buildings higher than 18 metres, or 7 storeys with more than one dwelling require a fire statement.

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Should I approach the local authority informally before applying for commercial planning permission?

It can be helpful to discuss your plans with a member of the local planning authority before making an application. This is most helpful when your plans are particularly complex. 

Their advice will be offered informally, so don’t consider what they say to be the be-all-and-end-all.

What is the community infrastructure levy?

The Community Infrastructure Levy is a tax charged by local authorities when on certain new developments. 

It applies to most new developments that generate a net additional floor space of 100 square metres or more, or create a new dwelling.

What are the consequences of starting development on a commercial property without planning permission?

If you start development on a commercial property without the appropriate planning permission from the local authority you could face enforcement action. This can create serious legal and financial repercussions for landowners. 

Local authorities have the power to issue:

  • Fines and prosecution

  • Demolition orders

Other issues created by failing to secure planning permission include the property being devalued, difficulty securing planning permission in the future, and wasted time and money.

What are the time limits when action can be taken?

When you have breached planning rules and carried out work that did not have the necessary planning permission, if the local authority does not take enforcement action within a prescribed time limit, they lose the ability to do so permanently.

The four-year rule and ten-year rule specify if and when action can be taken against you when you start a project without planning permission. 

Effectively, after ten years action can no longer be taken against an individual or business that begins or completes a development without permission. 

After getting planning permission, can I start using the approval right away?

After receiving planning permission there are a few steps you must take before proceeding with your plans. 

You’ll need to follow the building regulation process. Your architect will complete detailed drawings and construction notes following building regulations. A structural engineer should be hired to carry out structural calculations and drawings and ensure your foundations are appropriate for building.

A CCTV survey should be carried out to investigate your drains, this will establish exactly where they are located and the condition that they are in, plus whether they belong to you or are public.

Your property may also have a party wall (adjoining wall), if so you’ll need to let them know and a party wall surveyor may get involved.

When all of this groundwork is laid you will generally have three years from the date your planning permission was granted to begin work, unless stated otherwise in your planning permission. 

Are there any restrictions or limitations on what I can do with a commercial property once planning permission is granted?

If you plan to use a building for a different purpose than you were granted with planning permission you may need to get permission for a change of use.

When your change of use falls into the same use class as your original planning permission you may be able to continue with your plans without changing your permission.

Planning permission may include restrictions on the operation of the completed development, this can include limits on hours of operation and noise levels. 

How can I appeal a decision if my commercial planning permission application is rejected?

If your planning permission application is rejected, you should start by reviewing the reasons given by the local planning authority. Your authority must provide written reasons when they reject an application, you should analyse these in depth before considering a response.

Next, you can discuss the rejection with your local planning authority or consider appealing their decision. After a discussion with the authority, you may be able to get their agreement by making some adjustments to your original plan.

If you can’t reach an agreement you can appeal to the Secretary of State. This is the final straw when you believe the planning authority’s decision is unfair. There is a 12-week deadline to appeal from the date of your rejection. 

There are three main types of appeals:

  • Written representation – this is a common appeal process across many councils

  • Informal hearings – you can present your case with the help of a solicitor at an informal hearing

  • Public inquiry – this is a formal process where evidence can be entered and witnesses called

How can I find out if there are any existing planning restrictions or conditions on a commercial property I am interested in purchasing?

Local authorities often have online planning portals where you can see the planning history of a building. 

Existing restrictions can be referenced in Section 106 agreements.

Are there any grants or incentives available to support the planning permission process for commercial developments? 

There are grants available for the redevelopment of brownfield land, an area of land or building that has become contaminated from previous use.

The Fast-Track Planning for Brownfield Regeneration grant allows the owners of vacant buildings with a footprint of up to 1000 square metres to fast-track the planning process for demolishing and rebuilding them as new residential developments.

How can Lawhive help?

After reading our thorough guide you’ll be aware that commercial planning permission can become complex quickly.

Our commercial planning permission solicitors can help you when your permission is complex, your plans have been rejected and you want to appeal, and when you’re trying to establish whether your new plans are within permitted development rules. 

Get in touch with us today for a free case assessment.

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