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Planning Authorities; Friend or Foe for traditional building retrofit?

Posted by Rick Lomax on Monday, 14 October 2013.

Planning Authorities; Friend or Foe for traditional building retrofit?

So last week I went to speak to the LDNPA planning department directly to figure out how they can support the project and from my conversations with several members of staff from the planning team I learnt a lot about the process, the boundaries and the likely areas that would need planning or building control consent.

There has been a significant shift in the last 5 years to try and ensure an ease of implementation of energy saving and renewable changes from a practical and legislation point of view; “At the heart of the National Planning Policy Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development, which should be seen as a golden thread running through both plan-making and decision-taking.” (National Planning Policy Framework, 2012). I think people have realised energy efficiency is a method to ensure the financial viability not just an environmental action of many listed and traditional buildings, if they are not cost effective to run then there is the possibility that it becomes vacant, unused and unprotected in the longer term.

Permitted development rights exist to carry out a range of renewable energy installations in Lake District properties. These include roof and ground mounted solar panels (see the National Park’s website for more details)and always contact them before carrying out any work.

Generally speaking internal alterations do not require planning permission but may require Building Regulations approval. You should check with the Building Control Department at the District Council for your part of the county.

Any alteration to a listed building, external or internal, may require listed building consent and again you should check with the National Park Authority before carrying out any work and visit their website for further advice on listed buildings.

Being in a conservation area generally doesn’t affect what you can and can’t do without planning permission but it does mean that if you need to make a planning application then it will be even more important to use design and materials which preserve the character of the area. There are 23 conservation areas in the National Park and you should check with the National Park Authority if you think your house may be within one (see here)

There is an area in the centre of Keswick in which an ‘Article 4 Direction’ applies – in this area most alterations and extensions including the replacement of windows and doors requires planning permission. Householder’s in Keswick should always check first before carrying out any alterations.

The National Park Authority offer a free Duty Planning Officer service  between 9.30 and 12.30 every weekday where you can call into their office in Kendal without an appointment to ask any planning permission or related  questions. There is also a drop in service every week in Keswick and every fortnight in Glenridding and in Gosforth. Again, check their website for further details - http://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/.

From what I have learnt the web can provide a good basic level of information and also the open door policy at the LDNPA makes it really easy to discuss potential changes before you actually put in your application. By chatting to them beforehand you can ensure you are only applying for those actions that need permission and it means you can start work on those areas that do not.

PS I am yet to submit an actual application, but I believe the process is very straight forward and my biggest piece of advice is talk to them directly before you make any concrete plans (no pun intended).

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