Planning enforcement FAQs

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Here you will find some frequently asked questions about planning enforcement.

1. My neighbour is carrying out building work and says he doesn't need planning permission. How can I find out if this is correct?

One of the most common questions we receive is whether or not planning permission is required for alterations or extensions to people's properties. Planning permission is normally required before most building works are carried out but certain types of work are covered by 'permitted development'. This means that they can be carried out without planning permission, so long as they comply with the permitted development rules and restrictions.
The Planning Portal has produced a range of simple interactive guides to help you find out what is permissible without planning permission. Just click on the relevant links below.

Common projects for detached or semi-detached houses
Common projects for terrace houses, flats and shops

Mini guides are also available on Conservatories, Extensions, Loft Conversions, Outbuildings and Fences, Gates and Walls, along with detailed advice on many other Common Projects.

Please note: If you live in an Article 4 Direction area, the Council have removed most permitted development rights. In addition, on some relatively new housing developments, such as Jersey Farm or Napsbury, permitted development rights may have been withdrawn and you will need to look at the original planning permission.

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2. My neighbour is operating a business from his house. Do they need planning permission?

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home.  The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business.  If the answer to any of the following questions is 'yes', then permission will probably be needed:
Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

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3. I own a Listed Building. Do I need planning permission to make changes to it?

Works should not be carried out to a Listed Building including alterations or extension in any manner that would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest, unless works are authorised by the Council.  This includes replacement windows and doors and floors, replacement kitchens and bathrooms.  Minor decoration works are usually permitted but if in doubt do check first with the Council.

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4. I live in an Article 4 Direction area. What does this mean?

If you live in an Article 4 area, you live in a part of the St Albans Conservation Area that is considered to be of particular interest to the Council by way of its character or historical importance.  The Council have removed most types of permitted development rights in order to control the development in the area.  This means that most types of development and external alterations need planning permission.

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5. I want to erect a boundary fence. What is the maximum height I can have?

The height of any gate, fence, wall or means of enclosure erected or constructed adjacent to a highway used by vehicular traffic should not exceed 1m in height.  In all other cases, 2m would be the maximum height without planning permission.

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6. My neighbour has put decking in the rear garden. Does this need planning permission?

A raised platform such as a patio or decking must be constructed no higher than 300mm without planning permission.  Flats, maisonettes, Listed Buildings and properties located within the Article 4 Areas must, in any event, apply for planning permission or Listed Building consent.

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7. My neighbour has constructed a dormer window. Do they need planning permission?

The dormer must not exceed the height of the highest part of the existing roof and must not extend beyond the plane of any existing roof slope which forms the principal (main) elevation of the dwelling house and fronts a highway.  The cubic content must not exceed 40 cubic metres in the case of a terraced house and 50 cubic metres in any other case.  If the dwelling is within the Conservation Area it will need planning permission.

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8. My neighbour has put in a window on the side elevation that overlooks my property. Does this need planning permission?

Any upper floor window located in a wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of a dwelling house must be obscure glazed and non-opening, unless the parts of the window which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed.

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9. My neighbour has just installed a new flue. Does this need planning permission?

The height of a new chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe should not exceed the highest part of the roof by more than 1 metre. In a conservation area, a chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe installed on a wall or roof slope that fronts a highway and forms the principal elevation or a side elevation of the dwelling house will need planning permission.

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10. My neighbour has just constructed hard standing to the front of his house. Does this require planning permission?

Any hard standing to the front of a dwelling adjacent to a highway that has a ground cover of more than 5 square metres must be constructed of porous materials or provision should be provided to direct run off water from the hard surface to a permeable or porous area, or into a drainage system. This is to prevent rainwater running off into roads. You may need to consult with Building Control regarding drainage systems.

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Date of last review: 21 June 2018