The Difference Between Planning Permission and Building Regulations

Planning Permission and Building Regulations Explained

Planning permission is concerned about external appearance. This includes the ‘siting’ of a building (how it is positioned), its size, use, context (whether it ‘looks right’), access (to make sure everyone who might need to visit is able to) and compliance with the local plan and national planning policy. Planning policies set out what development can happen, where, and how much there can be as well as protecting the natural environment and heritage.

Building Regulations, on the other hand, set a minimum standard for design, construction and alterations to practically every building by:

  • Making sure that acceptable standards of health and safety are achieved in and around buildings;
  • Specifying minimum standards of performance for important building design elements such as fire safety, structural stability and weather resistance;
  • Setting minimum standards for access and facilities for all people including those with disabilities;
  • Specifying measures to control energy consumption.

You will often find that most jobs inside a residential property will need to comply with Building Regulations including replacing windows, electrical and gas work and even new bathrooms. As a result, they will need to be given approval by a Building Control Body (council or approved inspector) unless a registered installer implements it and certifies the works are compliant.

When you make a Building Regulation application you are seeking to have the details of your development checked and approved for compliance with the standards of construction. Confirmation from Building Control that your project has been designed, checked and approved as complying with Building Regulations is not the same as having planning permission.

An application for planning permission is about requesting a decision from the local planning authority on whether a development – however big or small – should go ahead. Small development projects don’t always have to go through the full approval process and they are otherwise known as ‘permitted development’. Most larger extensions and new houses will certainly need planning permission prior to construction starting – as well as Building Regulations approval.

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