How absolutely glorious: permission to not need permission

But I’m not. I’m typing it in a wall-ridden 1930s semi, with the plans for the extension lying, thus far untroubled by builder’s hand, next to me on the table. Planning permission may be unnecessary, but you still require the approval of the council’s building officer before you start work. And that takes a very long time.

I can’t get my head around this – my partner has explained the process to me 100 times, but I find the delays so frustrating that I don’t really listen. I think that we have to gain permission for the exemption from planning permission: permission not to require permission, as it were.

Reminds me of a story from 1992 or so Russia.

Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of St Petersburg, announces that you no longer need a licence or permission to set up in business. Just get on with it and send us a letter to register for tax etc.

Next morning the licence office is besieged. With people demanding a licence not to need a licence.

If you want to reform planning then you\’ve got to really change the system. Build whatever you like unless the council objects. You can even give them the power to insist it must be torn down if you like. But if you leave them with the power to grant approval for not needing approval then nothing will change.

13 thoughts on “How absolutely glorious: permission to not need permission”

  1. I don’t know what the government thinks this derogation was going to do any way. Its not as if there’s an army of builders with nothing to do out there. Have you actually tried to get any building work done lately? You can’t get tradesmen at all. They’re all busy, at least the decent ones are.

    I foresee a swathe of cowboy built extensions that will all need ripping down and rebuilding.

  2. Jim, please don’t knock the removal of regulations. We don’t want to scare them from stopping. The more they remove the better. Individual regulations might not make much difference, but at least it’s creating a climate of change.

  3. Sounds a bit like the US visa system. As an Australian I can have the visa system waived, but I must therefore obtain a visa waiver approval. Not sure what the advantage is.

  4. It’s possible you don’t need an interview (quite possibly in Canberra, even if you live in Alice Springs) such as is needed for a “real visa”. But that is just a guess and I can’t be bothered to look it up. The bureaucratic rules they have are idiotic.

  5. Poor Graeme Archer, to whom you link.

    Wants to be able to build an extension on his boundary without regard to the neighbours.

    I think not. That’s one rule that needs to be kept.

    How is he proposing to maintain his wall? Or will he repoint it silently in the dead of night while his neighbours are asleep?

    One situation which should be regulated.

  6. Wants to be able to build an extension on his boundary without regard to the neighbours.

    I didn’t read it quite that way – I read it that there is 5ft of dead space (aka patio) between his kitchen wall and his garden. Otherwise his later comment:

    I’d be typing this piece on a stool at a breakfast-bar island, looking through our new French windows into the back garden.

    makes no sense. Of course, you may well be right and he could be writing nonsense.

  7. Geoff, as a Briton, the difference between a US visa and a US visa waiver is that one can be filled out in 15 minutes in the plane and the other requires several hours of queueing, an interview and a fee from the US embassy.

  8. I think you are conflating two things: planning permission and ‘building regulations approval’. They are separate things. The government can waive the first without waiving the second.

  9. If your extension is within the Permitted Development limits, then there is no need to involve the local planning department at all – you certainly don’t need confirmation that you don’t need permission from them; that said, when you come to sell the house, your conveyancer will be happier to see a letter from the local planning department – but that can be obtained at any time, even retrospectively.

    There are even sections of the Building Control Approved documents that don’t apply to domestic dwellings, but my Local Authority Building Control Officers have tried to enforce regs that don’t apply to me. Builders and tradesmen all like to play it safe and avoid doing any work where they don’t have a form granting consent – this is understandable given that they may end up in dispute with the customer where approval was required but not obtained.

    In summary, the council certainly do not have the power to grant approval that approval is not needed.
    However, we, sheep-like, prefer to let them confirm that permission is not needed before getting on and building, rather than risk the council demanding that the building did indeed need permission and must be pulled down.

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