Demolition Desires: Do i need planning permission to demolish a building

Do i need planning permission to demolish a building?

It sounds like people have grand plans ahead, as Harris Lamb’s planning team has been deluged with enquiries regarding the necessity of obtaining permission from local authorities before demolishing buildings. Fortunately, Sam Silcocks is on hand to help.

As you’d expect from a planning issue, demolishing a building is not clear-cut and there are a number of issues to bear in mind. When proposing to redevelop brownfield sites, the demolition of existing buildings is often a matter that needs to be considered and, from a planning perspective, you will always need to engage with the Local Planning Authority.  So, the real question is – what type of application is required?

Take timing into account 
We regularly discuss the timing of the demolition of buildings with clients, and we understand there can be benefits of doing this before planning permission is obtained for the redevelopment of the site.  However, it is important to note that keeping the buildings on site until permission is granted can often have a number of benefits, both from a financial perspective and in terms of the ability to secure planning consent. It’s therefore wise to talk to myself or one of my colleagues before committing to demolishing buildings in order to weigh up the pros and cons for any particular site.

One matter that might cause concern when keeping a building on-site while awaiting the green light for demolition is the level of business rates that will be incurred.  Our Rating Team are able to assist in ensuring that rates are reduced to the appropriate level to reflect to nature and extent of the occupancy of the buildings on-site.

Planning procedure
The planning procedure is set out in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).  As with most planning law, it requires an element of interpretation and is not particularly easy to navigate, so to make life easier, here’s our more user-friendly summary:

Applications for the Prior Approval of the Council
If proposing the demolition of a building on its own, in most circumstances you will need to apply for the Prior Approval of the Council.  The exceptions to this are:

  • if the demolition is proposed or has been granted as part of a wider planning application for the redevelopment of the site
  • Listed Buildings and non-Listed Buildings in Conservation Area
  • Pubs and other drinking establishments (Use Class A4)
  • if it is deemed that the owner has rendered the building unsafe by their action or inaction

The focus of a prior-approval application is the impact of the proposal on local amenity.  In practice, this means the Council can consider whether the prior-approval of the authority is required in relation to the method of demolition and any proposed restoration of the site.  There is a certain level of base information that needs to be submitted, and the Council has 28 days to issue the decision.

The Council is also required under separate legislation to consider the impact on Protected Species, with bats being the most common consideration in this regard.  Our Environmental Team are well-versed in the legalities of which species can present delays or problems with demolitions and building works, and in providing surveys and solutions.
What if demolition is urgently necessary in the interest of health and safety?
Provisions are made for this in planning law, and buildings can be demolished without approaching the Council.  However, you will need to notify the Council within five working days of carrying out the demolition and will need to demonstrate that the immediate demolition was necessary in the interest of health and safety.
While the above guide is intended as a summary for consideration, I’d always recommend that anyone planning a building demolition on any scale seek advice from the team to discuss the intentions in more detail.

For more information, please reach out to our planning services team.