- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 16 May 2018
What approvals are needed before construction begins
Construction works can be complex, impacting on a large number of people, and having significant health and safety and other wider implications. As a result, a number of approvals may be required before construction works begin. Generally, the number of approvals required will increase with the size, complexity and sensitivity of the proposed works.
Construction works may need planning permission before they begin. The 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.
Planning conditions or planning obligations can be imposed on planning permissions, and these may need to be discharged before construction works begin. If an outline permission is granted, then reserve matters approvals may be required.
Local planning authorities have the power to charge the community infrastructure levy (CIL) on new developments to fund local infrastructure. A commencement notice must be submitted at least one day before the works begin, and the local authority will then issue a demand notice which will set out the payments required. See: Community infrastructure levy commencement notice.
NB: In Scotland, Regulation 37 of the 1997 Act requires that developers must, as soon as practicable after deciding a date on which to start a development, and in any event before commencing the development, give notice to the planning authority.
For more information, see Planning permission.
 Building regulations approval
Construction works may also need building regulations approval. The building regulations set out requirements for specific aspects of building design and construction. 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 begin. On small projects, 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.
There may also be additional information required by the building control body before construction begins, such as the target emission rate and building emission rate (or dwelling emission rate). For more information see Target emission rate.
For more information, see Building regulations.
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM Regulations) ensure that health and safety issues are properly considered during a project’s development so that the risk of harm to those who have to build, use and maintain structures is reduced. The regulations require that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is notified if construction work is likely to last longer than 30 working days and have more than 20 workers working simultaneously at any point, or exceed 500 person days.
The client must submit the notice (F10 - Notification of construction project) as soon as practicable before construction begins, or arrange for someone else do this on their behalf. The client must ensure that an up-to-date copy of the notice is displayed in the construction site office so that it is accessible to anyone working on the site in a form that can be easily understood.
For more information, see CDM.
The Party Wall etc. Act 1996 grants the owner of a property the right to undertake certain works that might otherwise constitute trespass or nuisance. It also protects the interests of adjoining owners from any potentially adverse effects that such works might have by imposing a requirement that all adjoining owners are given prior notice.
Such notice must be served where the owner of a property intends to erect a new wall at a boundary, carry out works to party structures, or carry out excavations up to 6 m away from a building or structure on neighbouring land.
For more information, see Party Wall Act.
 Environmental consents
For more information, see Environment Agency guidance.
Other approvals that might be required could include:
- Advertisement consent.
- Certificate of established use.
- Certificate of immunity from listing.
- Designated areas.
- Felling or lopping a tree.
- Hazardous substances consent.
- Lawful development certificates.
- Listed building consent.
- Mining or working of minerals.
- Notification where the Crown is developing on Crown-owned land.
- Scheduled monument consent.
- Highway works licences (such as stopping up roads, removal of parking, obstructions to pavements, skip parking and hoarding).
- River works.
- Nuclear works.
- Works affecting a railway.
Permissions for certain types of use may be required under the Licensing Act or Gambling Act.
It can also be wise to inform other bodies that work is going to begin, particularly on large projects:
- Emergency services.
- Utility providers.
- Post office.
- Suppliers and subcontractors.
- Landlords or tenants.
- Telecom provider.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Approval of conditions on a planning permission.
- Building regulations.
- Community infrastructure levy.
- Community infrastructure levy commencement notice.
- Designated areas.
- Environmental legislation.
- Full plans.
- Line of junction notice.
- Listed buildings.
- Party structure notice.
- Party Wall Act.
- Penfold Review
- Planning permission.
- Restrictive covenants.
- Rights to light.
- Scheduled monuments.
- Statutory authorities.
- Statutory obligations.
- Statutory undertakers.
- Tree preservation orders.
- Tree rights.
Featured articles and news
'Developed design' is a phrase coined by the RIBA for their 2013 Plan of Work. But what does it actually mean?
New green paper published aiming to rebalance the relationship between landlords and residents and tackle stigma.
RIBA calls for a comprehensive ban on combustible materials.
Lump sum contracts can be referred to as ‘fixed price’ contracts, although strictly this is not correct. Find out more here.
Ramboll offer guidance to civil engineers on how to make projects 'off-site ready'.
Government announces its Rough Sleeping Strategy, with further funding for social housing.
An overlooked architect who deserves to be celebrated for his wide range of buildings.
The Home Quality Mark ONE technical manuals for new homes are now available.
Read our introductory article to 'Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning' (HVAC) in buildings.
BIG's first of two twisting towers in Manhattan tops out.
Is data an untapped goldmine for productivity? How the infrastructure sector can capitalise on the opportunity.