Your guide to planning

Do I need permission?

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. This is known as permitted development. 

The Planning Portal sets out permitted development limits and building regulations for over fifty common building work projects for the home.

If you need us to confirm that your proposal is a Permitted Development, you will need to submit a Lawful Development Certificate (existing or proposed). Information is available on the Planning Portal - Lawful certificates webpage.

Please note: the fee for a Certificate of Lawful Development - proposed is £103 and a Certificate of Lawful Development - existing is £206.

Building regulations approval is not the same as obtaining planning permission for your work. Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings. this ensures that building work is structurally sound, fire safe and reduces your heating bills.

Building regulations are needed for the construction and extension of buildings and is a legal requirement. Visit the building control webpages to check if you need building regulations.

We run regular 'Getting the Builders In' workshops at which, planning and building control experts will be on hand to explain how building designs can be made to comply with planning and building regulations. The workshops are free to residents of Swindon Borough. If you would like to book a place or would like a 'Getting the Builders In' information pack, email: BControl@swindon.gov.uk.

You can search for the planning history of a property via the public access system on the view or make a comment on a planning application webpage.

If you are planning to make a new access point to your property and it crosses a public footpath, we may need to drop the kerb and the pavement may need strengthening. This is to protect any services buried in the ground such as water pipes.

You will need to make an application via the apply for a vehicle crossing licence webapge.  

In addition to obtaining a vehicle crossing licence, planning permission will be required if the vehicle crossing is off a classified road or trunk road. Planning permission may also be required for a new or replacement driveway.

You will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (porous) surfacing. These are surfaces that allow water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt. It also applies if rain water is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres, planning permission will be needed so that a traditional, impermeable driveway that does not provide natural drainage, can be layed.

Planning permission is often not required to change a garage, which forms part of your house, to a room. However, you are likely to need planning permission if:

  • your house was built between 1960 and 2020
  • your home is a flat or maisonette
  • your home is a Listed Building
  • your home was converted through the ‘permitted development’ rights, for example, from an office or an agricultural building

Before starting works you should:

Planning permission may not be needed for a householder to run a business from their home, providing it does not change the overall character of the property as a home.

However, you should consider the following important questions:

  • Will my business operate independently from the rest of my property?
  • Will there be frequent visitors to my property, including deliveries and/or customers?
  • Am I going to need to employ staff to operate the business?
  • Is my business going to be noisy or cause disturbance to my neighbours?
  • If my business is successful, will I want it to expand and grow?

If you answer ‘yes’ to one or more of these questions, it is possible that your business will require planning permission.

In addition, if you decide to put up a building in your garden for the purposes of carrying out your business, that building is likely to need planning permission.

Examples of businesses likely to need planning permission include:

  • dog grooming
  • dog/cat kennels
  • car repairs
  • car sales
  • hairdressing and beauty treatments
  • storage of materials associated with a business elsewhere
  • bed and breakfast, guest house or letting out a seperate part of your home 

Please note: This list is not exhaustive.

Before starting your business, you should:

Further Information can be found on the Planning Portal.

The casual or temporary parking of a mobile hot food vehicle for a few minutes, in the course of a round for instance, whether it be in a street, a main road lay-by or on other land, is not likely to need planning permission. 

The regular parking of such a vehicle for longer periods is likely to need planning permission. Whether the vehicle is on the public highway or private land does not affect the need for planning permission. However, you will also need a license from the council if parked on a street, in a lay-by or by the land owner if parked on private land.

Before starting the mobile business, you should:

In most cases, planning permission is not required for a fence or wall less than 1 metre high next to a road or 2 metres high in other places. In other cases, planning permission is often not needed if you are replacing an existing wall or fence in the same place and to the same height.

However, planning permission may be needed if:

  • the property or the neighbouring property is a Listed Building or in a Conservation Area 
  • you are adding or moving the wall or fence to enclose a previously open area
  • the wall or fence is new or being increased in height and will be more than 1 metre high next to a road or 2 metres elsewhere 

In most cases, planning permission is needed to change open amenity areas into private garden. However, we look to keep amenity spaces open where they form an important part of the original layout of a locality, natural or built environment. In these cases, planning permission would be refused.

Before starting the works, you should:

  • check that you own/control the boundary (check your title deeds or with your solicitor) or get consent from your landlord. (The council will consider selling its open amenity land to neighbours after planning permission is granted).
  • check whether planning permission is likely to be granted before you begin to buy/lease the land or start works, if you are planning to enclose an open amenity area (with a hedge, wall or fence)
  • check if you need to give notice under the Party Wall Act
  • apply for planning permission or a certificate to confirm planning permission is not required. (You do not need to be the land owner to apply).
  • complete any land purchase, lease or conditions before starting works

Further information can be found on the Planning Portal.

We do not hold a full list of current use classes. A planning history search may provide some indication of the most recent and lawful use class. You can search by property address via the public access for planning system

The only way to be certain of a properties current use class, is through the submission of a Lawful Development Certificate. Further information on this type of application and its requirements is available on the checklists for planning applications webpage.

You may need the following consents before you start work:

Before you start

Replacement windows and doors may not always be necessary. Poor changes to windows and doors may reduce the value of a property.

Careful repair, if possible, should be considered before replacement, especially where historic details or quality materials survive. Original windows and doors in period buildings are always more attractive to buyers.

Do I need planning permission to replace windows and doors

Like-for-like replacements

Like-for-like replacements will not normally require planning permission, for example, for windows and doors of exactly the same design, materials, colour and method of opening.

Care should be taken to ensure that any replacements are exact copies. For instance, a change from single glazing to double glazing would normally require the glazing bars of a window to be thicker to hold the sealed glass unit, and this would not be considered to be an exact copy. A change of material from timber to uPVC would not be considered a like-for-like change.

Replacements are not like-for-like

If your home is a single house or bungalow, for example, not a house converted from shops, storage/distribution buildings or agricultural buildings, altering your windows or doors often doesn’t require planning permission provided:

  • the materials used are of a similar appearance to the existing materials
  • the house or bungalow is not covered by an Article 4 Direction which restricts permitted development rights. These are associated with some conservation areas. These include the Railway Conservation Area and Bishopstone.
  • permitted development rights relating to alterations have not been removed by a condition attached to an earlier planning permission. You can check the planning history of your property. The ‘Decision Notice’ will show the conditions attached to any approved development and will say if ‘permitted development’ rights under the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development) Order have been removed.
  • You are not adding new windows or doors

In other cases, planning permission is often required. You can check the need for planning permission by submitted a lawfulness application

Do I need listed building consent to replace my windows and doors?

Listed building consent will almost always be required to alter windows or doors on a listed building, but will not normally be required to repair windows or doors. 

If unsure, you can check the need for listed building consent by submitting a lawfulness application.

For listed buildings, before you start think about:

  • whether repair is possible. This is the preferred option. Historic windows and doors are of considerable aesthetic and historic value. 
  • unnecessary destruction of historic fabric which is not acceptable
  • matching materials, which should always be used for repairs
  • the use of uPVC which is almost always unacceptable
  • double-glazing or factory-made standard windows which are rarely acceptable
  • draught proofing or secondary glazing, which may be better options (these may or may not require listed building consent)
  • whether repair is not viable. In this case dentical replacements will almost always be required.

Before a planning application

Buildings are listed to identify and protect our heritage. To learn more about how buildings are added to the national register and details of the locations of listed buildings in the borough, go to the find out about listed buildings webpage.

There are a number of conservation areas across the borough. To find out if your property is in a conservation area, conservation area maps and appraisal and management plans are available to view on the find out about conservation areas webpage.

Unfortunately, we do not have this information. You may wish to check your deeds or tenancy agreement. If these are not clear or do not cover the land for which you need the information, there are a number of organisations that may help.

Making a planning application

Our pre-application advice service aims to provide consistent and timely advice. This should reduce the risks involved in making a planning application. It can also help to reduce the time taken to progress an application through the formal decision making process.

Information and forms are available on the pre-application advice webpage, along with a list of fees for this service.

The residential extensions and alterations supplementary planning document (2011) which sets out guidance for householder extensions, may also be useful.

For help in submitting an application and for the supply of drawings (if required), see the Partner Agent List on the apply for planning permission webpage.

Validation

We check to see if we have all the information we need and the correct fee has been paid. We will ask for any missing information to be submitted within 14 days. If the information needed to make the application valid is not received within 14 days of a written request for further information, we will dispose of the application.

Publication

We publish all the application information and documents on our website. If you include any sensitive personal data, for example, medical information or health details, details about your children, education details where a name identifies the child, details of any criminal convictions, in your statement or accompanying documents, this information will appear on the website.

By submitting a statement with that sensitive personal data in it, you are giving consent for this information to go into the public domain. However, if you need to supply such information in support of your application, and you wish it to remain confidential, this should be supplied in a separate document clearly marked confidential, which we can withhold from publication.

Consultations

In most cases, we carry out consultations. However, not all applications are the subject of consultation (such as applications to find out if planning permission is needed called a certificate of lawfulness). Other applications are the subject to limited consultation as set out by planning law (such as prior approvals).

Any consultation responses and updates on application progress are put on the public access system.

Site visit

In most cases, the planning officer will carry out a site visit. They will not normally visit neighbours. The applicant does not need to be there for the visit. Appointments are not usually made unless there are problems with access.

Planning officer review

The planning officer will contact the planning agent if more information or changes are needed to the application. We will also contact them with any questions or updates during the process. You can check progress on the application by speaking to your agent or checking progress online.

If the application is: 

  • acceptable as submitted, we will approve without negotiation
  • unacceptable as submitted but only minor amendments are required which do not materially alter the proposal – the planning officer will seek minor changes as long as the changes are received within the statutory period (or an extension of time is agreed) and further consultation is not needed
  • unacceptable as submitted but minor changes are required to respond to issues identified. The planning officer will sometimes seek changes. This will be determined by the planning officer based on whether further consultation is needed and the case officer can consider the response within the statutory period for determination (or within an agreed extension of time).
  • unacceptable as submitted (including key supporting information being missing from the submission), for example, contrary to policy or further consultation is required - we will refuse without negotiation

If a viability assessment is needed: 

  • we will look at the viability appraisal as an open book assessment
  • publish a copy of the Financial Viability Assessment/Appraisal online
  • include a clause in Section 106 Agreements requiring a review of the viability situation within a defined timeframe

If a planning obligation (s106 agreement) is needed we will discuss this with the agent.

The decision

The planning officer will assess the application and write a summary report. The report will include a recommendation whether permission should be granted or refused and why.

Most applications are decided by senior planning officers. All comments, including those from neighbours, have to be considered carefully before a decision is made. Some applications are considered by the Planning Committee, which meets every month.

To find out if your application is going to be considered at Committee, check progress on the public access system. In either case, the planning officers report is published online.

Commenting on a planning application

Give your views

You have 21 days to comment on an application. You should give the reference number of the application you are commenting on and address your comments to the Head of Planning.

View and comment on a planning application

Keep your comments kept brief and concise. You can use sub-headings to illustrate each point. You can include other information such as photographs to illustrate your concerns. You should focus on the planning issues as these influence the decision-making process. We cannot take other non-planning related comments into consideration.

The planning issues that are taken into account

We have a legal duty to consider the provisions of the Local Plan and any other "material considerations". The most common "material considerations" include (the list is not exhaustive):

  • local, strategic, regional and national planning policies
  • Government circulars, orders and statutory instruments
  • previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)
  • design, visual appearance, and materials
  • layout and density of buildings
  • loss of daylight or sunlight
  • overshadowing/loss of outlook (but not loss of view)
  • overlooking/loss of privacy
  • noise and disturbance from use
  • smells
  • light pollution
  • highway safety issues
  • traffic generation
  • vehicular access
  • adequacy of parking
  • loss of important trees
  • landscaping
  • nature conservation
  • intrusion into the open countryside/green belt
  • risk of flooding
  • effect of Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas
  • archaeology
  • hazardous materials and ground contamination
  • disabled persons access

What we cannot take into account

Many concerns cannot be addressed through the planning process, these include:

  • loss of view
  • loss of property value
  • breach of restrictive covenant
  • loss of trade to a competitor
  • the level of profit a developer might make
  • personal circumstances of the applicant (in most cases)
  • moral objections, for example, to use such as amusement arcades and betting offices
  • matters controlled under Building Regulations or other non-planning laws, for example, structural stability, drainage, fire precautions
  • private issues between neighbours, for example, land/boundary disputes, damage to property, private rights of way, covenants
  • problems arising from the construction period of any works, for example, noise, dust, construction vehicles, hours of work
  • the development is already completed

Considering your views

The council is legally obliged to take into account the written representations received from neighbours and other interested parties when deciding all planning applications. It encourages local residents to have their say in planning matters and is responsible for making the final decision on the application and for deciding how much "weight" representations have.

After comments have been made

Due to the large number of responses we receive, it is not possible to respond personally to each letter. We make representations publicly available and other members of the public may see your views. Excluding name and address, personal details are removed from comments.

All representations are published on the website within a week of receipt.

An application can only be refused for "planning reasons" and not because of the number of objections.

After the planning decision

Planning conditions are applied to almost every planning permission. 

Planning conditions limit and control the way in which the planning permission is carried out. These are included to make sure the development is acceptable and started within a set time. 

Conditions may run for ever, they may require certain things to happen during construction or before first use. The decision notice identifies which conditions require further details to be submitted and when these have to be complied with.

When more information is required it is important to meet this requirement. This process is known as "discharging" conditions. 

Planning conditions show up in any solicitor searches, and can affect property sales if they are not discharged properly.

How to discharge a planning condition

To discharge your conditions, you will need to make an application to us. You can discharge one condition at a time or all the conditions at once.  

A fee is payable for each submission.

Once we have the fee, form and information needed, we have 8 weeks to decide. However, this can increase to 16 weeks if we have to ask others for their technical views. If the information is not agreed you will need to resubmit with a new application and fee.

You can ask us if a condition has been discharged.

Changing the planning conditions

There is no right of appeal against conditions for neighbours or other third parties. 

If applicants do not agree with the conditions set by the council, they can apply to get the condition changed or removed by: 

Informatives and enforcement

As well as conditions that have to be complied with, there may be informatives. These are guidance for applicants to other consents needed, people that they will need to talk to, or other matters of use.

If you think that a development is not being built as it should be, then the first thing to do is check if any of the conditions on the permission have been breached. You can do this by searching our planning database and reporting any suspected breach to our enforcement team.

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. This is known as permitted development. You can find details of permitted development rights on the Planning Portal - Common Projects website.

If you believe a breach of planning has occurred, you can report it to our Planning Enforcement Team by using the online form on the report an alleged breach of planning webpage. You will be asked to create a My Account before you can complete the form.

The webpage also provides information on how we respond to breaches of planning control, and provides details of works we can and cannot investigate.

If you require copies of decision notices, vendor consents, appeal decisions, section 52/106 agreements or tree preservation orders (TPO’S), you can request these on the find planning document copies and charges webpage.

Help us to improve this website

Use this form to provide feedback on this webpage. Don't use it to contact us about a service or make a complaint. We will not reply, even if you include personal details such as your name and address. If you want us to reply, you should contact us in a different way.

What is your feedback for this webpage?

Give feedback about this page