Your local planning authority (LPA), usually a department of the council, is responsible for deciding whether a proposed development should be allowed to go ahead. This is called planning permission.
Most new buildings, major alterations to existing buildings and significant changes to the use of a building or piece of land need this permission.
However, certain minor building works, known as permitted development, don't need planning permission. This is because the effect of such developments on neighbours or the surrounding environment is likely to be small. For example building a boundary wall below a certain height. Similarly, a change of land or building use is classed as permitted development if it's within the same use class.
Other areas get special protection against certain developments. Reasons for special protection include:
- Protect attractive landscape – e.g. national parks
- Protect interesting plants and/or wildlife
- Control the spread of towns and villages into open countryside – e.g. Green Belts
- Protect monuments or buildings of historical or architectural interest.
Occasionally, large proposals or controversial applications of national significance are 'called in' to be decided by the First Secretary of State instead of the LPA.
Please note that Building Regulations approval is a separate matter from obtaining planning permission for your work.