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Retrospective Approval for Planning & Building Regulations

Updated: Sep 16, 2022

We have been asked to deal with more than the usual number of Retrospective Planning and Building Regulation Applications. One of the reasons for not making the requisite application is that the lay person sometimes does not understand that for many projects there are two types of approval required, namely Planning Permission and Building Regulation Approval. Simply put, Planning is all about the use to which a building is put and how it looks, Building Regulations are about structural issues, heat loss and drainage etc.

However, for some projects, only a Planning Application is needed and for others, only a Building Regulation Application is required. Some clients do genuinely get confused and when told they do not need to make a Planning Application they assume they do not need to make a Building Regulation Application either. Having said that, some people probably use that as an excuse and hope to get away with it. Burying your head in the sand is not a good idea, especially when it is mixed with cement and water.

Having said that, the main reason for the growth in this type of work appears to be caused by builders who miss advising their clients, possibly sometimes because they need the work now and want to get on with it, without the delay that following the proper procedure would cause.

We regularly have to make Retrospective Applications for conservatories where the client has been advised by the conservatory company that Planning is not required. For conservatories, it is usually true but not always and some conservatory companies are not very vigorous at checking. It is a very unpleasant surprise for a homeowner to answer the door to a Planning Enforcement Officer and be told that an application has to be made and even worse, that it may not be approved.

Planning is a very blunt instrument and the building work is either acceptable or not if the application is refused and an appeal is dismissed you will have to demolish the building work. Fines and ultimately jail will result if you refuse. This can seem very harsh especially when the contentious building may look fine to some but unacceptable to others.

The situation with Building Regulation is different in that you can nearly always find a solution to a problem building. This is because you are trying to solve a technical issue and generally, everyone involved is working to find a solution. The difficulty for us is that we often do not know what the builder did, we do not know what materials he used or the size of the timber joist he used or how he fixed two components together. Unfortunately, the only option sometimes is to cut open the work, which is a terrible shame when the work is satisfactory.

If you should find yourself with any of the above problems please contact us at Building Tectonics to discuss the particulars of the case. We have over the years dealt with a very broad range of issues.

Written by Tony Keller – Building Tectonics Ltd.

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