Retrospective Planning Permission

Retrospective planning permission is the granting of planning approval after works have started or completed.

What does retrospective planning permission mean?

Retrospective planning permission is the granting of planning approval after construction works or changes of use have been undertaken, whether they have commenced or completed.

There are many reasons why there is a need for retrospective planning application, including for work that was considered to be permitted development which later transpires, for whatever reason, not to be the case.

Local Authorities may also invite owners to submit an application in advance of formal enforcement action being taken where it is suggested planning permission is required.


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Failure to obtain or comply with planning consent

Is the need for retrospective planning permission due to a failure to obtain or comply with planning consent?

Not every application relates to a failure to obtain planning consent. In many cases,  permission is needed to rectify a failure to comply with the original planning consent, be it because the design has changed since the original determination date or that the relevant planning conditions haven’t been fully adhered to.

For example, applying for retrospective planning permission may be required where changes have occurred during the construction of a house extension, with different materials, window sizes or positions, different roof design or the house extension is slightly larger than originally granted.


What is a retrospective planning application?

A retrospective planning application is an application to the relevant Local Authority seeking approval for the relevant development or constructions works or to rectify a change of use that has occurred without seeking such consent prior or is contrary to an existing approval.

Retrospective planning permission application forms

There is no specific retrospective planning application form and the normal forms for the relevant type of application should be used. For example, if there is a need to seek approval for a change of use then a full planning application form should be used. If permission is sought for a house extension, then the householder planning application forms should be used.

Typically reference is made to the application being retrospective within the description of development.


How long does it take to get retrospective planning permission?

Generally, we would expect it would take a similar amount of time to get retrospective approval as it would for the same application that was sought prior to any works being carried out, although this does depend upon the nature of the issues. As retrospective planning permission is sought this would usually indicate that the works or change of use has occurred and therefore it can often be trickier to negotiate changes to any scheme which may have an impact on such timeframes.

For minor applications, including householder applications, Local Planning Authorities usually have a target of 8 weeks to grant permission. For major application, these targets are extended to 13 weeks. In any case, an extension of time can be granted, to allow applicants of the LPA to provide more information or consider complex issues.


What happens when retrospective planning permission is refused?

If permission has been refused there are typically three courses of action that are taken.

Firstly the applicant needs to remove or revert back to the original situation, for example by ceasing the unlawful use or physically removing the offending construction works.

Secondly, If the applicant doesn’t remove or revert back to the original situation, the second course of action is that the Local Planning Authority may commence action against the unlawful development or change of use. For more information on planning enforcement notices.

Thirdly, it is usually possible to submit an appeal, to the Planning Inspectorate, to challenge the refusal of the retrospective planning permission. For more information please click here.

If your retrospective planning permission has been refused contact us today.


What is the time limit for retrospective planning permission?

There is no specific time limit for retrospective planning permission, unless Enforcement Action has been taken, however there are several aspects that may influence when approval is sought.

As above, action may be commenced or suggested by the Local Planning Authority where they become aware that works or changes of use have occurred without the necessary approvals.

There are also time limits, colloquially known as the 4-year rule or 10-year rule, meaning that retrospective planning permission may not be required if these time limits have been reached although clarification may be required. Further details on these aspects are below or please see information relating to Lawful Development Certificates here. Advice and confirmation should be sought from the Local Planning Authority accordingly.


Disclaimer: This page provides an introduction only and is not a definitive statement of the law and should therefore not be relied upon. The information above relates to England only. Policies across the rest of the UK may differ. Contact your Local Planning Authority for advice and confirmation before any works are carried out. All images used are for illustrative purposes only. Read the full disclaimer here.

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