As I have stressed the need for control in the first few chapters, the question ‘is planning approval necessary?’ may seem strange (as opposed to building control approval which is another matter). The simple fact is though, not all alterations require planning approval as long as certain criteria are met. Although the Town and Country Planning Acts give local authorities

the power to control ‘Development’, their powers are restricted in certain circumstances. If the proposals happen to fall within categories called Permitted Development (PD), then the Planning Department have to accept that the works can be carried out, whether they like it or not (remember, building control approval may still be required). In England and Wales, what constitutes PD is defined in the Town and Country Planning General Development Order. It may seem strange that there should be what is in effect a two-tier

planning system, but it must be remembered that the restriction on the powers of the Planning Department is a common sense decision. If local council powers were total then the council offices would be flooded with all sorts of trivial applications which would quickly clog the system. No one would be able to do anything without needing to consult the local council. The PD system was designed to benefit both the local authorities and the general public. For the designer and the homeowner, the point at which a home exten-

sion ceases to be PD and requires a full planning application is very important.