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Last edited 22 Feb 2021
Principal statutory considerations and constraints
 Conditions of Appointment of an Architect
Under the RIBA Standard Conditions of Appointment of an Architect 3.10.1, the client acknowledges that the Architect does not warrant that planning permission and other approvals from third parties will be granted at all, or if granted, will be granted in accordance with any anticipated time-scale.
 RIBA work stages 0 and 1
The local plan (and neighbourhood plan if it exists) should be referred to in order to establish planning policy regarding development in an area. Planning history investigation will reveal any existing relevant permissions, consents, refusals and comments from the public. Note, that if the local plan contradicts what is in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the NPPF overrides the planning history.
Alterations that will affect the external appearance of buildings in a Conservation Area may require Listed Building / Conservation Area Consent. It is a criminal offence to undertake work in a conservation area without consent, and the local planning authority can insist that the work is reversed.
The general principles are that all buildings built before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition are likely to be listed, as are most buildings built between 1700 and 1850. Particularly careful selection is required for buildings from the period after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are not normally considered to be of special architectural or historic interest because they have yet to stand the test of time.
Listing Buildings Consent is required for demolition, alterations and additions to a listed building. The local authority conservation officer and Historic England should be consulted. Listed Building applications run in parallel to planning applications.
Planning obligations (also known as Section 106 Agreements or 'planning gain') are obligations attached to land that is the subject of a planning permission. They are used to mitigate or compensate for the negative impacts of a development or to prescribe the nature of a development.
The CDM Regulations 2007 are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered throughout all work stages to reduce the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures.
If a site is likely to be contaminated, the client needs to be aware of their duties under Part 11A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. The client should be advised to appoint a CDM Co-ordinator as required by CDM Regulations 2007 and carry out a risk assessment of the site prior to soil surveys for contamination. They should also notify all project staff of the risks under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
If a bat survey has not already been undertaken to determine the potential for bats on site, and or the presence of bats, the authority should request that the developers commission an appropriate survey
If a bat survey demonstrates that bats and/or a known roost are likely to be affected by the proposed development and planning permission is to be granted, a condition should be placed on the decision notice requiring the developer to apply for, and obtain, a European Protected Species Licence before work commences.
Statutory undertakers / utilities companies should be consulted to establish any easements on the land in connection with electrical substations. If works are required to the utilities as a result of the development, the timescales to do so are determined by each company. The process can take time and be costly.
An easement is a right that someone may have to use land that they do not own in a certain way, or to prevent the owner of that land from using it in a certain way. Examples of common easements include rights of way and a right of light.
Rights of Light : the owner of a building with windows that have received natural daylight for 20 years or more is entitled to forbid any construction or other obstruction that would deprive them of that illumination. Neighbours cannot build anything that would block the light without permission.
Under the Highway Act 1980, Highways England should be informed of any proposed changes to access. The local highway authority should also be consulted and informed of any proposed changes to access. The client might consider appointing a Transport Consultant for larger, more complex projects.
 Holding hazardous substances
If the proposal is to hold certain quantities of hazardous substances at or above defined limits, the client must obtain hazardous substance consent, in accordance with the Planning (Hazardous Substances) Regulations 2015. The Hazardous Substance Authority should be consulted.
The duty to manage asbestos is contained in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. To do any building or maintenance work in premises, or on plant or equipment that might contain asbestos, there is a requirement to identify where it is, its type and condition; assess the risks, and manage and control these risks. An asbestos survey may be required. It is necessary to employ a licensed contractor to remove/work on asbestos if the materials are high risk.
 Archaeological remains
Clients should refer to PPS 5 (Planning Policy Statement 5): Planning for the Historic Environment, as well as arrange for an archaeological investigation. Decisions are based on the nature, extent and level of that significance, investigated to a degree proportionate to the importance of the heritage asset.
Wherever possible, heritage assets are put to an appropriate and viable use that is consistent with their conservation. The positive contribution of such heritage assets to local character and sense of place is recognised and valued.
 RIBA work stages 2 AND 3
Pre-application advice from the local authority planning officer may be advisable. The client may consider submitting outline planning at an early stage to obtain broad approval before any substantial costs are incurred.
An Environmental Impact Assessment may be required under the Town and Country Planning Regulations for large or sensitive developments. The local authority should be consulted to determine the scope of assessment and sustainability requirements.
Design and access statements are required for buildings of more than 1,000 sqm, public buildings, housing developments of 10 dwellings or more and developments requiring listed building consent. In conservation areas, design and access statements are required for single dwellings or buildings of more than 100 sqm.
You need to do a sequential test if both of the following apply:
- your development is in flood zone 2 or 3 - find out what flood zone you’re in
- a sequential test hasn’t already been done for a development of the type you plan to carry out on your proposed site - check with your local planning authority
You don’t need to do a sequential test if the following apply:
- one has already been carried out for a development of the type you’re planning (eg a residential development) for your site.
- your development is a minor development
- your development involves a change of use (eg from commercial to residential) unless your development is a caravan, camping chalet, mobile home or park home site
The statutory determination period for validated planning applications (which local planning authorities should not exceed) is 8 weeks for straight-forward planning applications, 13 weeks for unusually large or complex applications (major projects). The process can take 16 weeks if the application is for a large or environmentally sensitive project, which may be subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The public consultation period will usually take 3 weeks.
The majority of appeals will be decided by written representations or a hearing and there are four stages involved, which are explained below. The time taken to decide an appeal is a guide.
- Written representations : 25 weeks
- Hearings : 42 weeks
- Enquiries : 36 weeks
On small projects, or when changes are made to an existing building, approval may be sought by giving a 'building notice'. In this case, a building inspector will approve the works as they are carried out by a process of inspection. This does leave the client at risk that completed works might not be approved, resulting in remedial costs.
Ensure that the building complies with the Fire Precautions Act 1971 and the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (does not apply to domestic buildings). A fire strategy should also be discussed with the fire authority.
The CDM Regulations 2007 (appoint CDM Co-ordinator) are intended to ensure that health and safety issues are assessed through all work stages to reduce risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures.
 Other consents
Certificate of lawful development - if there is any ambiguity or question over whether your proposal passes the permitted development tests, it is possible to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.
- Mining or working of minerals.
- Scheduled monument consent.
- Certificate of immunity from listing.
- To display signs under the control of advertisements regulations.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Building control.
- Community Infrastructure Levy.
- Conservation area.
- Design and access statement.
- Environmental impact assessment.
- Hazardous substances.
- Health and Safety Executive.
- Listed buildings.
- Local plan.
- Party wall.
- Planning permission.
- Protected species.
- RIBA plan of work.
- Rights of light.
- Section 106 agreement.
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