What permissions do you need?

Photo:A typical North Laine street (Kensington Place)

A typical North Laine street (Kensington Place)

Renovating your North Laine home

By Peter Crowhurst, NLCA Chair in 2014/15


At the February 2015 NLCA meeting residents from Over Street reported that, following excavation of the basement, No 1 Over Street was in danger of collapsing and had caused damage to Nos 2 & 3. A previously unidentified sewer is believed to be the cause. Many local residents have seen the scaffolding and the demolition taking place and may have thought of the residents who, through no fault of their own, had to vacate their properties, not knowing whether they would ever be able to return.

The Council's 'Local List'

At the same Community Meeting, residents were asking why they had received letters saying they were no longer on the Council's Local List (of Heritage Assets). The answer given to those residents is that houses in North Laine are protected by the controls that exist for Conservation Areas and also, since 2005, by the Article 4 Direction. Listed properties in North Laine have additional controls.

Planning permission and/or a Building Regulation application?

So what are the controls that may affect what we do to our properties? The first thing to think about when considering any development or refurbishment (to the interior as well as the exterior) is whether the project will need to have planning permission and/or a separate Building Regulations application.

Building Regulations

Building Regulations are the national standards that apply to most types of building work and exist to ensure that the environment in which we live is a safe and healthy place and that buildings are sustainable, energy efficient and provide easy access for young, old, sick or disabled people. Building Control inspects and approves plans and building work.

Changing the internal layout of a property can transform a house but it may be necessary to contact Building Control as some internal walls are fundamental to the structure of a house and some walls provide fire protection. Local authority building control teams are always available and work with householders, architects, builders and trades people to achieve the national standards. It is the responsibility of the householder to obtain Building Control approval.

To find out whether you need Building Regulations consent contact the Council's Building Regulations Enquiry Line on 01273 292050.

Party Wall Act

If you need to carry out building work to a wall shared with your neighbours, the Party Wall Act comes into play. This is a legal requirement that is totally separate from Planning and Building Control. As well as affecting party walls, it can also apply where you want to excavate foundations within 3m of an adjoining property and can also affect boundary walls. Given the unknown nature of many of the foundations of North Laine houses and of the sewers which may lie below our houses, this is a critical requirement. If the Party Wall Act applies, this means having to appoint a Party Wall Surveyor.

Further information on this can be found at www.planningportal.gov.uk

Planning Controls

The main controls governing what we can do in North Laine are those provided by Planning Controls. North Laine has been a Conservation Area since 1976. This status was given to North Laine to protect our vanishing historic environment. In the 1960s and 70s the Council was encouraging the destruction of North Laine through wholesale demolitions and a policy of benign neglect , ie not doing anything to maintain its own properties

Conservation Area status

It was realised in the mid 1970s that what remained of North Laine constituted an important Victorian townscape worth preserving and so Conservation Area status was conferred on it. This status has prevented developers from knocking down and making large scale changes to properties. Without Conservation Area status North Laine would not be the place it is today. It is a place of character and that character is provided in part by the area's historic environment.

Permissions needed since 1976

From 1976 permission was needed before carrying out any demolition works and before any roof extensions or dormers were built. It was also required for the erection of a satellite dish on a front wall or roof. In addition it is needed for replacing front doors and any significant alteration to the principal elevation.

Article 4 Direction

In 2005 additional protections were given to the key architectural features of North Laine properties by the Article 4 Direction. Planning  Permission  was now (and still is) required for the enlargement, improvement or other alteration of front facades and roofs of dwelling houses, including the erection of  a porch outside any external door and the erection, removal  or alteration of a chimney. These controls do not apply to the rear of our houses. Planning Permission is also required for the demolition of the whole or any part of a boundary wall or railings, and changes to gates, fences and walls where they front the road.

Listed Building consent

Many houses in North Laine are listed Grade II and have additional controls. Any proposed works, including internal alterations - sometimes even decoration - will need Listed Building  consent. However like-for-like repairs do not usually require consent.

Contact the Council's Planning Team

If you are in any doubt as to whether you need Planning Consent it is best to ask someone from the Council's Planning Team. They can be contacted by telephone on (01273) 292222 from 10:00am to 12:00 noo, Monday to Thursdays except Bank Holidays, or by email: conservation@brighton-hove.gov.uk

For information on Building Control you can contact:

Building Control
Brighton & Hove City Council
Room 201, Kings House
Grand Avenue Hove BN3 2SR

or email: building.control@brighton-hove.gov.uk

The Council also has an excellent booklet entitled 'Renovating Home' which deals fully with all of the above and can be obtained at http://guidetorenovatingyourhome.co.uk/brightonandhove


[Previously published in the North Laine Runner, No 233, March/April 2015]


This page was added on 26/04/2015.

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