Timber frame building regulations and planning permission

Making sense of the legislation: Planning Permission

Making sense of the multitude of legislation concerning planning can seem incredibly complicated.  There are some simple points worth bearing in mind when planning any changes to your timber frame building. Taking into consideration both Planning Permission and Building Regulations, many small scale changes do not need any permission (classed as permitted development) from your local planning department, these include:

Timber Framed Porches

Porches, which are no greater than three square metres in area, three metres in height or within two metres of any boundary with a highway, do not require permission. Contacts and References: General Planning Information Dartmoor Specific Permitted Development & Planning Policy Statement 7

Timber Framed Extensions

Single-storey extensions are permitted in summary if they are less than half the area covered by the original house (as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948).  Are not forward facing or side facing where there is a highway. If extended to the rear are less than 3 metres & upwards less than 4 metres, sideways are less than half the width of the original house. Two-storey extensions are permitted in summary if they are not closer than 7 metres to rear boundary, without balconies, verandas, and with obscure glass in sideways facing windows. Full details regarding extensions can be found at Planning Portal, Permissions, Extensions.

Timber Framed Outbuildings

Outbuildings including sheds, greenhouses, swimming pools, and cabins are permitted if they are not forward of the principal wall of the main house, are single storey and not exceeding 2.5 metres in height. No verandas, balconies or raised platforms and not more than half of the land surrounding the original house is to be covered. Building Regulations allow attached carports (open on at least two sides) of less than 30 metres square floor area. Garages are permitted with a floor area less than 15 metres square of 30 metres square where it is at least one metre from any boundary, or it is constructed from substantially non-combustible materials. Notable exceptions include any outbuildings on the site of a listed property which will need planning permission, as will any development with sleeping accommodation.

Planning within Designated Land which includes National Parks and conservation areas can be subject to different and stricter rulings, your local Planning Technician can guide you through any specific legislation.

Take a look at the Planning Portal interactive planning tool for planning advice on common smaller scale projects.

Read more

Planning exceptions

There have been additions to legislation governing the construction of housing on rural areas which need to be read in addition to and not instead of existing legislation. The legislation is of particular interest to those who wish to self-build in remote areas of the countryside as it explains what sort of build is permitted in the regions which have a high level of protection. PPS7 refers to Planning Policy Statement Seven: Sustainable Development in Rural Areas, it is clause 11 which is of interest to those considering a self-build project:

“11. Very occasionally the exceptional quality and innovative nature of the design of a proposed, isolated new house may provide this special justification for granting planning permission. Such a design should be truly outstanding and ground-breaking, for example, in its use of materials, methods of construction or its contribution to protecting and enhancing the environment, so helping to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas. The value of such a building will be found in its reflection of the highest standards in contemporary architecture, the significant enhancement of its immediate setting and its sensitivity to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

This was replaced in March 2012 by paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), which states that a design should:

“be truly outstanding or innovative, helping to raise standards of design, more generally in rural areas; reflect the highest standards in architecture; significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area”

Building Regulations or Building Control

Building regulations are often confused with planning permission. They are two very different processes. The council can carry out both elements, but latterly private firms have the power to ‘sign off’ key stages of a build project.

Building Regulations are concerned with the quality and safety of the building and build method; it covers many areas. For example, Carpenter Oak Ltd need to have the green oak timber frame engineered by an independent engineer whose certificate signs off the structural integrity of the structural skeleton. The engineer will consider snow loading, the roofing material, the timber sections and the type of jointing to satisfy themselves that the frame we have designed is fit for purpose.

Building Regulations also cover the log burner, fire safety and the suitability of the foundations.

There are several ways to obtain Building Regulations. Firstly to submit detailed drawings for sign off and then key site inspections at critical stages of the build, foundations being the first. This process is the standard approach for more extensive projects particularly if an architect is involved. The other is to obtain building notice – you or the builder issues the building control department of your intention to build and they will then come at critical stages to inspect the work being carried out. This process works well if the building team are up to date and experienced and suits small projects.

Private firms like Jhai or the local authority building control officer can carry out inspections. You can still start a build without Building Regulations but cannot start building before gaining planning permission.

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