Businesses seeking to develop their premises need to apply to the council for planning permission. Permission may be required when building new premises, changing the use of existing premises, or extending existing buildings. Decisions are made in line with borough planning policies and government guidance.
Businesses can check informally with planning services whether a proposed development needs planning permission. If you need this information in writing, you can also apply for a formal decision, known as a Lawful Development Certificate. Planning permission: a guide for business (pdf) describes the planning process for businesses in detail.
Building new premises
Businesses seeking to build new premises need to apply to the council (planning services) for planning permission. Applications for new premises are decided in line with the council's Unitary Development Plan which sets out planning policies by which a planning application will be judged. Points that will be looked at include:
- number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings
- proposed means of access, landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood
- availability of infrastructure such as roads and water supply
- proposed use of the development, and how it relates to the locality.
Extending existing premises
Minor extensions of existing premises, including additional buildings within the site, may not need a planning application because the development is already permitted under Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. For factories or warehouses planning permission is required if the extension:
- materially affects the external appearance of the building
- comes within five metres of the boundary of the site
- reduces the amount of space available for parking or turning of vehicles.
Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
If you are building or extending the premises, and creating an additional 100 square metres or more of internal floor space, you will be liable to pay the Mayoral CIL.
Changing the use of existing premises
Businesses need planning permission from the council before significantly changing the use of any premises e.g. office to pub. In many cases, a change of use of a building does not require planning permission. Planning permission is not needed when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same 'class' as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. An application is always required for changes of use involving amusement centres, theatres, scrap yards, petrol stations, car showrooms, taxi and car hire businesses, and hostels.
Planning permission is usually not required for changes to the inside of buildings or for small external alterations such as telephone connections and alarm boxes. Other small changes, for example putting up low-level walls and fences (one metre high fronting a highway or footpath, two metres high elsewhere), have a general planning permission for which a specific application is not required.