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10 December 2021
When do you need planning permission for a commercial property?

If you own business premises you probably won’t be surprised to hear that commercial planning permission can be a complex (and often lengthy) process. The law also differs massively for warehouses, retail outlets, offices and many other types of commercial buildings. 

In fact, it’s often difficult to know which amendments or renovations do require commercial planning permission and which ones do not!

In this article, we examine some of the main UK rules and regulations which apply when weighing up whether commercial planning permission is needed.

What planning permission is needed for a commercial property?

Planning permission is required for "carrying out any development on land" – in accordance with the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (TCPA 1990).

In most cases, you need to obtain commercial planning permission if you intend to:

  • Build a new commercial property
  • Carry out large renovations
  • Change use of premises
  • Make a major structural change
  • Add an extension or floor space

However, planning permission is NOT essential for all commercial property projects – because they may be able to proceed under certain General Permitted Development rights.

If you’re in any doubt about whether commercial planning permission is required, contact your local planning authority (LPA) or get in touch with our Chartered Surveyors such as our team at Garness Jones.

We’ve been supporting people through planning applications for decades and will happily provide any advice or relevant information.

Do I need permission for a change of use?

Whether you rent or buy a commercial property, permission may be needed to change its use from one purpose to another.

Never do anything before getting professional advice from a Chartered Surveyor, who should be able to determine if permission will be granted.

Who can enforce commercial planning permission?

Never proceed with any amendments or building work if you’re unsure about the need to acquire planning permission. Begin work without obtaining it and you might be forced to undo it again!

No matter where your project is based, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) are allowed to serve an ‘Enforcement notice’ if permission has not been granted. Should this scenario arise, you could be asked to return the property or site to its original condition.

Don’t ignore an enforcement notice – it’s illegal.

If you don’t agree with it, launch an appeal and try to have it revoked.

How long does commercial planning permission last?

Even when commercial planning permission has been granted, it is often advisable to wait until six weeks after permission has been granted before starting work or implementing any changes, as all planning permissions are subject to legal challenge.

In England, commercial planning permission is granted based on the understanding that work must start within three years.

Some progressive local authorities do use discretion and will issue permissions with a longer duration. It is basically up to them to determine the most appropriate timescale.

If construction fails to start before the full permission expires, new permission will usually be required.

How we secure planning permission for commercial property

Anyone can lodge a planning application with their local planning authority but it requires patience, skill and years of industry-acquired expertise to successfully secure permission for a commercial project.

At Garness Jones, we would advise enlisting the help of an experienced Chartered Surveyor to guide you through the process – especially if it contains complex or contentious issues.

Based in Hull, we are commercial property management specialists, manging property portfolios across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.

Follow this golden rule and you can rest assured that your project will get off to the possible start.

If you need to negotiate commercial planning permission or appeal against an enforcement notice, call 01482 564564 and tap into our unrivalled regional experience.

When do you need planning permission for a commercial property?

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    Garness Jones is a trading name of Garness Jones (Commercial) Limited, registered in England and Wales – Registration No. 13088669

    The company is registered for VAT under reference 372 9009 88. Their registered address is Riverside House, 11-12 Nelson Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU1 1XE.

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