Building Without Planning Permission

If you build without planning permission, you may not be breaking any rules. However, if there is a planning breach, you may have to submit a retrospective application or even appeal against an enforcement notice.

To avoid these complications, it is best to ascertain whether or not you can build without planning permission before any work begins. A solicitor will be able to advise you of this, safeguarding you from future problems.

Building without planning permission – do I need permission?

Some developments do not require planning permission. To find out if this applies to you, it is prudent to obtain verification from a legal professional.

Even if you are advised that you do not need permission, it may be useful to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate, as this proves that your building is legal.

Building without planning permission – failure to comply

If you do require planning permission but you proceed without it, you will have committed a planning breach.

In the event of a planning breach, you will need to submit a retrospective application to the local council. If this is successful, you will not need to take any further action.

But if the application fails, or relates to a development that was previously refused, the local council may issue an enforcement notice stipulating that the breach is remedied. This can be very expensive and frustrating for those concerned, and can involve dismantling the entire structure.

Building without planning permission – expert legal advice

To avoid the pitfalls of building without planning permission, contact us and speak to a solicitor about your development. This will give you the opportunity to verify whether or not you need planning permission.

Alternatively if you have built without planning permission and are looking to make a retrospective application or appeal against an enforcement notice, we can support you through the process, fighting to obtain a positive verdict.

Retrospective Planning Permission

If you have failed to obtain consent, or have committed a planning breach, you will need to submit an application for retrospective planning permission.

When do you need retrospective planning permission?

Not all building projects require planning permission. However, if you build something that would ordinarily require consent, but you did not apply for permission before work began, you will need to make a retrospective application.

The same will apply if you were granted consent, but you have not stuck to the terms and conditions set out by planning officers. This is called a planning breach. We can help advise you if this is the situation you are in and the local planning authority are investigating what you have done.

There will often be issues relating to how different the actual end result is from the permitted scheme, as well as deciding what to do about it. Some local planning authorities will bring enforcement action (whether by an enforcement notice or a breach of condition notice) and others will be more open to discussions.

One common solution is to apply for retrospective planning permission to legitimise the “as built” development. We can help you prepare such an application. You can also appeal against an enforcement notice on the basis that planning permission ought to be granted for what you have actually constructed.

There are many reasons that your build might require retrospective planning permission. You may not have realised that you needed planning permission at the time, or the logistics of the build might have meant building later would be impossible (scheduling conflicts for the builders, or building equipment arriving earlier than planned), or the build might have been a more substantial undertaking than you realised at first.

If you are not sure if you need retrospective planning permission, check our permitted development section for more details or ask us a free question using the form on the right.

Your local planning authority will be most concerned with whether the planning breach will negatively affect the public or the way the land around your build is already being used.

How to get retrospective planning permission

An application for retrospective planning permission will need to be submitted to your local authority. A variety of factors will then be taken into consideration, including whether or not you have contravened any regulations, the impact upon surrounding neighbours and the aesthetic design.

Subsequently you will either be granted retrospective planning permission, or your application will be refused. In the event that you are denied retrospective planning permission, you may be issued with an enforcement notice demanding that you reverse the changes that have been made.

Retrospective planning permission and Enforcement Notices

A planning breach is not a criminal offence on its own, but unless you successfully appeal against an enforcement notice you have received, it is illegal to fail to comply with such a notice. It is important to either apply for retrospective planning permission or appeal against any received enforcement notice sooner rather than later.

You can only obtain planning permission in one way after you have built without planning permission. You can either make a retrospective planning application under section 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, or appeal against an enforcement notice as a ground (a) appeal.

If you have already received an enforcement notice it can seriously affect your planning permission situation.

Legal help for retrospective planning permission

Being issued with an enforcement notice will be extremely troubling, costing you a significant amount in terms of time and money. To avoid such complications, it is wise to seek expert legal advice before applying for retrospective planning permission. This will ensure that you submit a sound application that has the best possible chance of success.

For help with retrospective planning permission, get in touch with us at Kingsley Smith Solicitors. We specialise in planning law and can help you secure planning consent. Call us on 01634 811 118, complete our online enquiry form or email our planning law UK expert Nicholas Kingsley-Smith.


The materials appearing on this website do not constitute legal advice and are provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such materials. We shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the information provided on this website, nor shall we be responsible for the content of any web images or information linked to this website. Viewing this website, or contacting us does not constitute a solicitor client relationship between you and this firm.