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  1. Blog
  2. Planning Permission Breaches - Where in the UK has the most?
Research & Insights
06 December 2021

Planning Permission Breaches - Where in the UK has the most?

GetAgent Team

Table of contents

  1. 1. Find out the areas with the most planning permission breaches and why you shouldn’t cut corners
  2. 2. The areas with the most planning permission breaches
  3. 3. The areas with the most formal action against planning permission breaches
  4. 4. Why you should apply for planning permission
  5. 5. When you don’t need to apply for planning permission
  6. 6. The area with the most PDR applications for large householder extensions: Slough 30.25%
  7. 7. The area with the most PDR applications for office to residential conversions: Portsmouth 2.15%
  8. 8. The area with the most PDR applications for retail to residential conversions: Newham 1.71%

Find out the areas with the most planning permission breaches and why you shouldn’t cut corners

Want to add value to your home before you sell? You might need planning permission to carry out renovations, even if it’s on your own land.

Applying for planning permission can be tricky, that’s why some choose to carry out work without applying, or before their application gets approved. However, the consequences of cutting corners can mean a drawn-out court process, which is the last thing you need when juggling the stress of estate agent fees and trying to work out “how much is my house worth?”.

GetAgent.co.uk collected data from 20 local authorities in the UK to discover the areas most guilty of breaching planning permission. Read until the end to find out the importance of getting permission before you build your extension.

The areas with the most planning permission breaches

getagent-planningbreaches 04 - Top 3 breaches

  1. City of Westminster - 10,094 complaints

The City of Westminster is the UK’s worst area for breaching planning permission overall! Encompassing the Houses of Parliament and most of London’s West End, this city is packed with buildings and modern architecture.

Since 2016, there have been over 10,000 complaints to the City of Westminster local authority, alleging breaches of planning permission have taken place.

The local authority served over 4,500 enforcement notices to parties breaching planning permission from 2016-2020, which is also more than any other city!

  1. Birmingham - 7,991 complaints

England’s second city is one of the UK’s worst areas for breaching planning permission.

From 2016-2020 the Birmingham local authority received almost 8,000 complaints of alleged planning permission breaches. Despite its much larger population size, Birmingham still received fewer complaints in total than the City of Westminster!

Of those 8,000 complaints, there were only 139 enforcement notices served between 2016 and 2020. Although, that doesn’t mean the 8,000 complaints were wrong about the breach of planning permission, as the Birmingham local authority confirmed over 900 investigations led to formal applications for permission.

  1. Hammersmith and Fulham - 6,887 complaints

The London borough Hammersmith and Fulham is officially one of the worst areas in the UK for planning permission breaches.

Since 2020, there were almost 7,000 complaints of alleged breaches in planning permission, which is more than larger cities Manchester and Nottingham.

The residents of Hammersmith and Fulham made just under 650 applications for planning permission from 2016-2020, yet over 900 enforcement notices were issued in the same period!

getagent-planningbreaches 05 - Table breaches

The areas with the most formal action against planning permission breaches

getagent-planningbreaches 06 - Top 3 formal action

  1. City of Westminster - 47% enforcements

In the City of Westminster, 47% of complaints about planning permission breaches led to formal action by the local authority. Over 4,700 enforcement notices were served from 2016-2020.

Enforcement notices are usually issued once a party has already begun unauthorised development, to effect a cease in the work. Through enforcement notices, the council can request that you alter building work or remove it completely, and not complying can mean serious consequences like fines and prosecution!

Read on to discover the reasons why you should apply for planning permission, and avoid being issued an enforcement notice.

  1. Brent - 42% enforcements

In the London Borough of Brent, 42% of complaints by residents to the local authority of planning permission breaches led to the issue of enforcement notices in the last five years. Overall, almost 800 enforcement notices were served from 2016-2020.

  1. Ealing - 15% enforcements

The local authority for the London Borough of Ealing received over 6,000 complaints about alleged planning permission breaches from 2016-2020. Of those complaints, 15%, around 900 cases, led to the issue of formal enforcement notices.

getagent-planningbreaches 07 - Formal action table

Why you should apply for planning permission

getagent-planningbreaches 08 - Why you should Applying for planning permission can be a lengthy process, depending on the renovations you’re planning to undertake. The lack of transparency in the application process can leave you waiting months with no idea if yours will be approved or denied.

However, it is essential to do the application process right, else you could risk fines and even prosecution.

  1. Avoid an enforcement notice

The most essential reason to get approval for planning permission before you start developing your property is to avoid an enforcement notice.

If you are issued a notice by your local authority, you could be forced to undo all of the new construction on your property. Enforcement notices are illegal to ignore, meaning the local authority can escalate the matter to court if you refuse to comply.

Most are served an enforcement notice after a member of the public complaints about the renovations to the local authority, which could come from a neighbour or passer-by.

  1. Avoid prosecution

Commencing building work and renovations before being approved for planning permission can lead to prosecution.

Although many local authorities can advise you to make a formal application for planning permission upon serving an enforcement notice, in some circumstances an application is never made and notices get ignored.

These cases can go to court - in Blackpool alone there were 31 prosecutions as a result of a breach in planning permission from 2016-2020.

  1. Planning ahead

Obtaining planning permission before renovating your property can give you time to slow down the process and plan for the future.

The planning permission application can help reveal any unexpected issues early on, like building restrictions or conditions in your contract.

One benefit is letting your neighbours know about the work you intend to do and considering how the design might look with the other houses on your street.

When you don’t need to apply for planning permission

Although for most home renovations planning permission is needed, in some cases you might not need the local authority’s permission to carry out the work.

Permitted development rights (PDR) allow certain changes to be made to buildings without needing to submit a formal application for planning permission.

Permitted development rights are authorised under the government. Some cover the conversion of residential properties to commercial space, while others may cover home improvements like extensions.

While work covered under PDR requires no planning permission, you do have to submit an application to the local planning authority to determine if it requires ‘prior approval’. If the work is deemed to require approval, the local authority will approve or refuse the application.

The area with the most PDR applications for large householder extensions: Slough 30.25%

In many cases home extensions are covered under permitted development, meaning you don’t have to apply for planning permission. However, there are criteria and limitations to what type of extensions are covered.

For example, single-story rear extensions that extend 3 metres or less from the original property walls are often covered under PDRs.

Slough is the area with the most PDR applications for large household extensions. Over 30% of all planning applications to the Slough local authority from July 2020- June 2021 were for permitted development approval for home extension construction.

In over 23% of cases, prior approval was deemed unnecessary by the local authority.

The area with the most PDR applications for office to residential conversions: Portsmouth 2.15%

Permitted development also covers some types of property conversions. Portsmouth is the area with the highest percentage of PDR applications for office to residential conversions.

Of all 558 planning and related applications decided by Portsmouth local authority between July 2020- June 2021, 2.15% were for the conversion of office space to residential living.

The area with the most PDR applications for retail to residential conversions: Newham 1.71%

Newham had the most PDR applications for retail to residential property conversions between July 2020- June 2021!

1.71%, of the over 1,000 planning and related applications made to the local authority were for retail to residential conversions.

Although all applications required approval, half of the PDR applications were refused while half were granted.

getagent-planningbreaches 09 - PDR Table

Methodology:

To find the UK’s areas with the most planning permission breaches, each locality was ranked based on the number of complaints of planning breach requests, number of enforcement notices served and number of applications for planning permission.

Freedom of Information Act requests were sent to 83 Local Authorities across the UK. 55 of the local authorities responded with data, 20 of which provided complete data indicating the number of complaints of planning breaches and the number of enforcement notices served from 2016-2020.

The data on PDR applications July 2020- June 2021 was obtained from District planning application statistics.

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