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Last edited 11 Jan 2018
The difference between planning permission building regulations approval
People unfamiliar with the development process can become confused by the number of permissions that are necessary, and in particular, the difference between planning permission and building regulations approval.
In fact, whilst they may (but are not necessarily) both be granted by the local authority, they are very different.
Planning permission is the granting of permission to proceed with a proposed development. Responsibility for granting permission generally lies with local planning authorities (usually the planning department of the district or borough council). All developments require planning permission, other than ‘permitted developments’, which are considered to have insignificant impact.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) decides national planning policy for England and this is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Considerations about whether to grant planning permission might include; siting, size, use, context, access, compliance with the local plan and national planning policy and so on. The legislation, policy and guidance that underpins planning in England can be found on the government's National Planning Practice Guidance website.
For more information see: Planning permission.
The building regulations set out requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction. In England, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is responsible for setting the building regulations. The regulations apply to most new buildings and many alterations to existing buildings, and relate to aspects of building design and construction such as; fire safety, structure, accessibility, ventilation, drainage and so on. A series of approved documents provide general guidance about common situations in building design and construction and how they can comply with the building regulations.
Building Regulations approvals can be sought either from the building control department of the local authority or from an approved inspector. Generally on larger, new-build projects, a 'full plans' application will be made, meaning that full details of the proposed building works are submitted for approval before the works are carried out. 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.
When the works are complete, a completion certificate is issued by the building control body, providing formal evidence that the works have been approved, and that, in so far as it is reasonable to determine, they have been carried out in accordance with the building regulations.
For more information see: Building Regulations.
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approved documents.
- Approved inspector.
- Building control body.
- Building regulations.
- How long does it take to get planning permission.
- How long does planning permission last.
- How long it takes to get building regulations approval and how long it lasts.
- Listed buildings.
- Local plan.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- National Planning Practice Guidance.
- Permitted development.
- Planning fees.
- Planning objection.
- Planning permission.
- What approvals are needed before construction begins.
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