Do you need planning permission?

Did you know that not all building projects require planning permission? Find out what planning permission is and read examples of when this is needed.


  • What is planning permission?
  • What is permitted development?
  • Guides to help you decide if you need planning permission
  • Examples of common building projects

Did you know that not all building projects require planning permission?

What is planning permission?


It focuses on the impact your building project has to other people and other areas outside of the site.


For example, its visual impact, impact upon neighbouring properties and access. 

Planning permission decides whether a certain building project takes place, controlling the right to build on land and protecting other people.

Your responsibilities

How is planning permission decided?


All our decisions are made based on the Local Plan. This is the strategy for the future development of the local area. 


The following are just a few of the areas that we look at when considering an application:

  • Design, appearance and materials 
  • Impact on trees, landscaping and wildlife 
  • Highway safety 
  • The planning history of the site 
  • All forms of pollution such as noise, fumes and contamination 
  • Heritage conservation 
  • Creating opportunities for new employment or affordable housing

The decision-making process

Find out what happens after you have submitted an application

Do you have Permitted Development rights?


There are various types of development that are already granted planning permission so they don't require permission from us. 


These building projects are known as "Permitted Development (PD)".

Sometimes the right to do these permitted developments will be limited by national criteria or because when previous permission was granted specific restrictions were put in place.

For example, you can add a conservatory on to the back of a house as long as it is a certain size (provided we have not removed that right when the house was given permission).

The decision-making process.

You will probably need Building Control approval


Building Control approval is different from planning permission.


It focuses on the technical side such as making sure building regulations are upheld and public safety is maintained.

For example, does the building have the correct foundations?

Most planning applications require Building Control approval.

Building Control have legal powers to prosecute those who don't comply with building regulations through the Planning Enforcement Team.

The decision-making process

So - do you need planning permission?


Useful guides will help you decide if you need it.


Quick examples





An extension to your property does not always need planning permission.


Use our guide to work out if this is needed.

View extension guide

Change of use


Change of use is where a category of a building or land changes.


For example, a shop wishes to become a restaurant or someone wishes to start equestrian use on agricultural land.

In most cases, planning permission is required but there are exceptions.

The decision-making process

Pedestrian/vehicle access


You will need authorisation from Essex County Council for any works affecting a road. However you might not need planning permission.


For example, you don't need planning permission to put in a dropped kerb but if you are creating or altering access onto a Classified Road (Classes A, B and C), planning permission will be required.

The decision-making process

Advertisement signs


If you meet specific criteria you will not need consent from us.


The decision-making process

Markets or car boot sales


You will need planning permission if it is held within the curtilage of a building (i.e. a school or pub car park).


You will need planning permission if it lasts more than 14 times in total in any calendar year.

You don't need planning permission if it lasts less than 14 days in total in any calendar year and occurs in an open field.

For all events, you must send us formal notification 28 days before the car boot sale or series of car boot sales are held.

Failure to do so can result in a prosecution and a possible fine of £1,000.

We need to know the following information.

  • Full name and address of the person holding the event
  • Full name and address of the owner/occupier of the site (if different to the person holding the event)
  • The day or days on which it will be held including the opening and closing times
  • The site on which the event will be held (by reference to a plan)

Send us a notification

You don't need to do this if:

  • We have approved specific planning permission
  • Where the proceeds of the event are to be applied principally for charitable, social, sporting or political purposes

What to do now?




Other factors might affect your building project:

  • Constraints such as a "Listed Building", conservation areas or protected trees 
  • Do you have a "Party Wall"? 
  • Building regulations or any commercial licensing requirements 

Other things to consider


If you are unsure if you need planning permission or you want to check if your building project would be a permitted development.

Submit a Certificate of Lawfulness
If you know you need planning permission, but would like specific advice.

Submit a pre-application
If you know you need planning permission, but don't want specific advice.

Apply for planning permission
If you want to apply for Building Control approval.

Apply to building control

Things to Know before you Apply