Do I need planning permission?

Doug Hughes of Hughes Architects

Do I need planning permission? It’s far better to seek professional advice than make a costly mistake.

Hughes Architects principal architect and managing director, Doug Hughes, highlights how home and business owners are often unsure if they need planning permission.

“As a building design practice and planning consultancy we’re often asked by homeowners and businesses as to whether they need planning permission for work on their property.

“In most cases, it’s simply an enquiry before they ask us about a project they’re considering. In others, it’s merely calling us for advice.

It’s better to be safe than sorry

“But one thing it does highlight is how the planning system can appear quite complex to those who have not dipped their toes into it.

“And it’s a fair point. Perhaps the most important thing to consider is if you go ahead with a project that does require planning approval and you haven’t obtained it you could end up in a costly situation – don’t think you can just go for retrospective planning.

“Planning officers could demand you return the property back to as it was or alter it. Either way it could be costly.

“The Welsh Government advice on planning is very much to the point: ‘If you build something which needs planning permission without obtaining permission first, you may be forced to put things right later, which could prove troublesome and costly. You might even have to remove an unauthorised building.’

“So, how do you know if you need planning permission? If you’re unsure you should contact the planning department at your local council and discuss it with one of their officers. They will be able to provide advice.

“However, they will then need to consider your more detailed plans before committing either way. But in the main, it should be pretty straightforward.

Permitted development rights

“In some cases, you can undertake work to a property under ‘permitted development rights.’ Now, this isn’t quite straight-forward, and you should still gain advice form a professional architect or planning officer before undertaking work you might think fits into this.

“Permitted development rights can vary between authorities, national parks and areas of a community or if your home is listed or in a conservation area.

“The best advice for anyone considering external or internal alterations to a property is to consult a professional. In most cases you will need architects plans for structural work or advice on internal remodelling.

“We can discuss your needs and offer such advice as part of our services. We can also deal with the planning and working with your builder and contractors.

“In simple terms, it’s far better to undertake work properly in the first place than make a costly error.”

Hughes Architects has offices in Newtown and Welshpool, Powys and Aberystwyth in Ceredigion. Telephone 01970 626019 or email

Doug Hughes of Hughes Architects