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Building Regulations and Planning Permission - what's the difference?

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Building Regulations and Town and Country Planning are completely separate.

The Town and Country Planning process is designed to regulate the development and use of land. When you make a planning application you are seeking permission to enable you to carry out development.

Building Regulations are required to:

  • Make sure that acceptable standards of health and safety are achieved in and around buildings;
  • Specify minimum standards of performance for important building design elements such as structural stability, weather resistance and fire safety;
  • Set minimum standards for access and facilities for people with disabilities;
  • Specify measures to control energy consumption.

When you make a Building Regulation application you are seeking only to have the details of your development checked and approved for compliance with the standards of construction.

Could I need Building Regulations AND Planning Permission?

Yes. In most, but not all cases, a proposed development could require both planning permission and building regulation approval. In these circumstances you would have to make two separate applications, including paying two separate fees, to have your applications considered.

It has been normal practice for designers to seek planning permission before making a building regulation application. However, the requirements of building regulations, particularly with regard to access for fire fighting vehicles, means of escape and structural fire precautions, together with the provision of access for disabled people, will have significant bearing on the ultimate design of a building and the external layout of the site.

To ensure the smooth process of both planning and building regulation applications, particularly for more complex projects, you are strongly advised to contact both Building Control and Planning staff to discuss your proposals prior to making any applications. If necessary, they will then involve other interested agencies such as the Fire Service, to ensure you receive the best advice from one meeting.