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Planning permission

Most development will require planning permission. You are strongly advised not to begin any work until one of the following occurs:

  • you have satisfied yourself that your development is permitted development (see below) and therefore does not require planning permission
  • you have been granted a Lawful Development Certificate (see below)
  • you have obtained planning permission for your development
  • you live in the South Northamptonshire area and have received a Confirmation of Compliance that your development complies with the South Northamptonshire Local Development Order

If you start work in advance of any of these (or if despite having satisfied yourself that planning permission is not needed it transpires that it is needed) it is at your own risk and we may take enforcement action against you.

Even if planning permission is not required, you may still require Building Regulation Consent and/or Listed Building Consent, and you may still be liable to pay the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

If you live in Northampton or the South Northamptonshire area and require further information on your property/site, you can search maps online:

It is also worth checking your property deeds or transfer of title as there may be restrictive covenants in place which will restrict what you are able to do regardless of planning legislation.

Certain types of work can be carried out without planning permission, as long as the works comply with certain rules and restrictions. This is known as permitted development.

To determine whether planning permission is required for your development, we recommend that you first visit the Planning Portal, where further information (including a very useful ‘interactive house’) can be found. This sets out what can be done under ‘national’ permitted development rights.

You may then be able to assess for yourself whether or not you need planning permission, although please bear in mind that this will have no formal status in law and cannot be relied upon at a later stage.

Please note: The rules and regulations governing planning permission are lengthy and quite complex and the need for planning permission can be affected by a number of issues such as:

  • whether the property is in a conservation area
  • whether the property is a listed building
  • what works you are intending to do
  • what other developments have taken place (the ‘planning history’)
  • whether or not your property has ‘permitted development rights’

There are some cases where the permitted development rules and regulations do not apply and where all development needs planning permission.

Examples of this include some new housing developments or houses within ‘sensitive’ areas (such as conservation areas). In these cases, a condition is imposed upon the development when planning permission is originally granted, specifically removing the permitted development rights.

Some areas are covered by an Article 4 Direction (see below), which also removes certain permitted development rights.

If either of these apply, it means that you have to submit a planning application for work which would not normally need one.

You are advised to search our planning register to establish whether your property is affected by such a condition or other direction. If you live in the Northampton or South Northamptonshire areas, you are also advised to search maps online:

In the event that you are not sure, or you would like us to do this on your behalf, you can make an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (see below).

Important Note: We cannot give you an informal answer as to whether or not planning permission is needed for your specific proposal either on the phone, by letter or in reception.

A Lawful Development Certificate is a certificate that confirms that the development you intend to carry out does not need planning permission.

You will need to submit an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for a proposed use or development (LDP) if you cannot assess for yourself whether you need planning permission, or if you would like us to confirm in writing whether you need planning permission.

If your application is refused, you will either need to apply for planning permission for your proposed development, or revise your proposals so that they become permitted development (see above). The reasons for any refusal to issue a Certificate will be included in your decision.

Please note: Lawful Development Certificates are determined purely on the information submitted. Any changes to the build after a certificate has been issued could result in the development requiring planning permission and it is strongly advised that you make checks before undertaking such changes.

In the event that a development has already taken place submit an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use or development (LDE) to confirm that either:

  • the development is permitted development
  • that we cannot take enforcement action because the development was substantially completed more than 4 or 10 years (depending on the development) previously.

Certain types of development do not require planning permission from the council. These are called permitted development (see above).

Individually many of these changes may appear fairly minor but added together they can begin to have a significant effect on the character and appearance of the area.

In order to address these concerns local planning authorities can introduce additional planning controls known as Article 4 directions, which can withdraw certain permitted development and means that even minor residential alterations will require planning permission, for example constructing a porch, replacing windows or re-roofing. In addition, a direction can be used to prevent an over-concentration of houses in multiple occupation. Once an Article 4 direction has been made, planning permission becomes necessary for the types of development set out in the direction.

There is no fee for any application made necessary by the serving of an Article 4 direction. It is suggested that owners/occupiers check in every instance before any work is undertaken whether or not planning permission is required.

The National Planning Practice Guidance provides a useful summary of permitted development and information on the procedure for and implications of making an Article 4 Direction.

For more information on Article 4 directions in your local area, click on the links below:

Why information is on a different website
We are in the process of adding information to this new unitary council website. Some pages will give you a link back to a previous council website to help you find what you need. Read more about the council changes.
Last updated 14 April 2022