Monthly Archives: April 2017

Biomass planning requirements

When it comes to renewable energy, biomass is one of the most efficient and energy saving options you can choose. You can choose a system that will both heat your home and provide hot water, all while producing very little carbon into the atmosphere. If you choose to install a system as part of your extension work, you should be aware that there may be some Planning Permission requirements.

What is biomass?

A biomass boiler provides heat to your home via a burner that runs on wood pellets. In some cases this burner can also be used to burn household waste and even food waste. The energy produced is fed into the home where it is used to heat radiators, underfloor heating and hot water. It is incredibly efficient as the carbon produced is less than that absorbed by the tree during its lifetime. In this way it is considered carbon neutral.

Will I need planning?

If the biomass system work is entirely internal and uses existing flues or chimneys, you will most likely not need Planning Permission. If your flues and chimneys meet permitted development rules then you should also be OK. However there are exceptions as follows:

  • If your chimney or flue extends more than one metre above the highest part of the roof
  • If your building is listed or in a conservation area – internal changes may also need to be approved
  • Flues in conservation areas must be fitted away from public view

An outdoor shed or building

You may decide to house your biomass boiler away from your main extension and this building could require planning permission. This is especially the case if the extension has already used up your permitted development rights in terms of space. If the shed is small and you have plenty of space in your garden, you are likely to be OK. But your builder should certainly bear in mind the requirements before work progresses.

Permission for solar panels

Enhancing your home with a new extension is a great idea, but you might want to take the opportunity to make it even better by adding solar panels to the roof. After all, you will now have a large space that needs to be heated and more roof space to accommodate the panels. Doing it all at the same time can be a great idea and even save you money in the long run.

For the most part solar panels do not need Planning Permission, but you may find that your home is subject to some of the restrictions that currently exist regarding the installation of solar panels on the roof. These restrictions are as follows:

  • The solar panels should be positioned so that they do not have a visual impact on the area or the external appearance of the building. Ideally this means putting them on the back of the house
  • The panels should be removed when no longer required
  • The panels cannot protrude further than 200mm from the roof slope and cannot be installed any higher than the highest part of the roof (but not on the chimney!)
  • Panels cannot be installed on a listed building or within the grounds of a listed building
  • Solar panels cannot be installed on a designated monument site
  • Panels installed in conservation areas cannot be fitted to the front of the house or building
  • Permission must be sought from the leaseholder for installations on flats and the management company must be informed

While you will not need Planning Permission if you fit into the above criteria, you will still need Building Regulations approval. The electrical work, the load capacity of the roof and the registration of the builder will all need to be checked. The installer needs to be registered under the Competent Person Scheme or your panels will not be eligible for the feed-in-tariff.

Planning Permission Series

With housing being in short supply across many parts of the UK, it is very common for houses to be split into flats or for us to live in maisonettes or purpose built flats. You may feel that living in a flat means that you are very limited on work that you can do on the property. But it doesn’t have to be the case – it is still possible to carry out extensions on a ground floor flat or maisonette as long as you follow the rules set out by your Council.

Will I need planning permission?

In almost all cases the answer to this is yes because extension work carried out on a flat does not come under Permitted Development. Permitted development essentially states that work carried out on a house that extends it by a set amount does not require Planning Permission. But when it comes to flats the rules are different and planning is almost always needed.

This is especially the case if your flat is part of a listed building or is in a conservation area. In fact if you start work on a building that has special historical character without permission you could be committing a criminal offence. So checking with your planning office is essential before you do anything.

Why do I need Planning Permission?

The main reasons for flat extensions needing planning permission is the fact that your neighbours will inevitably be affected, due to their proximity to your property. Not only will the your property and the extension impact on their property, but the work being carried out will affect their day to day living. Noise, mess, parking issues and people in and out of the building throughout the day will be bothersome to them – so they need the chance to understand what is happening.

The building structure and look will also be affected – possibly impacting on their own property value. This is a very valid concern for your neighbours and one that may require you to compensate.

Building Regulations

Any extension built on a flat will also need Building Regulations approval. This regulatory service ensures that the work carried out meets government requirements on buildings of this type. The Buildings Inspector will attend the site at regular intervals throughout the project to check on work and ensure that all work is carried out to the right specifications.

The following categories will be taken into account when it comes to your extension planning application and regulations.

Doors and windows

Your doors and windows may need to look the same as others in the building and will need to meet the energy conservation levels required by your Council. Planning permission for doors and windows will be required if the building has special characteristics.

Think about when planning an extension

People choose to extend their homes for a variety of reasons – to add value, to make it more balanced or to simply give them more space for a growing family. Whatever your reason may be, you still need to make sure that you are properly prepared for the extension and that you have thought through the main considerations before you start. The following list of 5 things to think about before you get started on an extension will ensure that the project gets going without a hitch.

Planning permission

Before you even start you should consider whether your extension will require planning permission. The rules for planning in your area are detailed at the UK Planning Portal website and there, you can find out if your extension will come under permitted development or if you will need to go through the planning process. This could add as much as 3 months to the time it takes to complete your project, but it does ensure that your extension is legal and that your neighbours are aware of what is happening.

Building regulations

This is quite distinct from planning permission and most extensions will require building regulations approval, even if they do not need planning permission. Essentially, buildings regulations ensures that your extension is safe and that it meets the current legislation for the type of work you are having done. It is a simple process and probably won’t slow down the build too much. It usually involves one or two visits from an inspector to ensure the work is being carried out to their rules and regulations.

Insurance

Before you do any work at all you should check with your buildings insurer to find out what their rules are when it comes to building work. Most builders will have the necessary site insurance, but don’t take their word for it. Ask to see their certificates and and get your own insurance if you are not sure. If you are leaving your home during the work you need a special type of insurance to cover this.

Permitted development

Under the current planning rules, extensions of under a certain size do not need permission before the work is undertaken – but there are some caveats that you should be aware of. If your home is in a conservation area or is listed (either grade one or two) you should check with your local planning department to see what is allowed for your home. There are also recommendations about the sizes of certain rooms and if you decide to go smaller to accommodate the permitted development rules you may fall foul of the planning rules.