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Lisa C
Lisa C, Property Solicitor
Category: Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 89
Experience:  UK qualified solicitor with 10+ years experience in property law
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I've just knocked down the garage and sun room on my

Customer Question

I've just knocked down the garage and sun room on my house without planning permission or conservation area consent ( i do live in a conservation area)
I proceeded without such consent as it was to my knowledge that any building under 115 cubic metres does not require CAC or planning permission to be demolished.
Is this correct?
If not what consequences am I likely to face here?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Property Law
Expert:  Lisa C replied 2 years ago.
Hello, Thank you for your question. My reply below assumes the property is located in England. Please note that the situation may be different if the property is in Wales or Scotland.
There are three separate issues to be considered here. You have correctly identified two of them - namely the fact that your property lies within a Conservation Area and the requirement for Planning Consent. In addition you should also consider the need to comply with the relevant Building Regulations.
Dealing first with the issue of Conservation Area consent, it is not clear from your query whether the property demolished comprised a stand alone building or formed part of a larger property. If the latter, this may be works of "alteration" rather than "demolition", for which Conservation Area Consent is usually not required. This response assumes, however, that the property demolished was a detached building within the grounds of your property.
You are probably aware that the demolition of a property within a designated Conservation Area consent without the proper approval of the Local Authority is a criminal offence. There are, however, a number of statutory exemptions to this requirement. As a result, the demolition of a property with an area below the threshold that you have identified, namely 115 cubic meters (measured externally), would not require Conservation Area Consent.
Turning to the issue of planning permission, demolition works are not generally regarded as 'development' and, as such, planning permission is also often not required. This is as a result of the General Permitted Development Rights which enable property owners to carry out minor works to their properties. These permitted works include the addition of small scale extensions or conservatories to a property or the demolition of a property which is under a defined threshold. This threshold is smaller, being just 50 cubic metres. Notwithstanding these provisions, it is possible for the Local Authority to make a direction revoking or limiting these general rights in certain geographical locations within their jurisdiction. It is also usual for these general rights to be automatically revoked in respect of Conservation Areas. If the area in which your property is located does not have the benefit of these rights (because they have been revoked), planning consent would therefore be required notwithstanding the size of the building demolished. Your solicitor can quickly advise whether your property has the benefit of the general rights, if you believe that these would cover the work that has been undertaken. If they have been revoked, or do not cover the extent of the demolition works, an application for retrospective planning consent may be advisable.
In any event, even where no formal planning consent is required, a Local Authority may require that it first approves HOW the demolition works are to be carried out and how the site will be restored following completion of those works. This is because of the specific hazards involved in carrying out demolition work. Although there are once again exemptions (including properties below the smaller 50 cubic metre threshold) this process is nevertheless once again usually required in respect of properties within a Conservation Area. The "Prior Approval Application" requires, amongst other things, payment of a fee to the Council and confirmation that the relevant Demolition Notices have been correctly displayed. Once such an application has been made, the Local Authority confirm whether or not they require the applicant to obtain their prior approval to the method of demolition and site restoration before work is commenced.
The final issue is quite separate to the requirement for planning consent and relates to the need for such works to comply with relevant Building Regulations. A separate Building Regulation Application is needed for demolition works, save in limited circumstances. This application requires six weeks' prior notice to be given to the Local Authority's Building Control department before any work is commenced. Building Control may then specify conditions to which must be met during the works, including measures to safeguard adjoining properties and the public. If the work undertaken does not comply with the relevant Building Regulations, the property owner may be served with a notice requiring this to be rectified to the satisfaction of the Local Authority.
Once again, a retrospective application may be made for a 'Regularisation Certificate' which confirms that the work has been approved by the Local Authority Building Control department. A Regularisation Application once again requires payment of the relevant fee, and must be accompanied by various technical information in support. Building Control will then investigate the matter and may require technical investigations to be undertaken. Once they are satisfied that the work was carried out in compliance with Building Regulations, a Regularisation Certificate will be issued, but remedial work may be required before this can happen.
Clearly the relevant applications have not been made prior to the commencement of works. Unless the situation is rectified, the Local Authority Planning and/or Building Control department(s) may decide to take enforcement action. In addition, further problems are very likely to be encountered if and when the property is sold. One alternative to an application for retrospective consent is the possibility of indemnity insurance. This will, however, almost definitely NOT be available if you first contact the Local Authority and highlight the position to them. I would strongly recommend that specific advice is taken from a local planning solicitor in the first instance on the issues highlighted above. They will also be able to investigate the availability and cost of insurance on your behalf and advise on the most prudent course of action in your specific circumstances.