When planning permission is needed

This page explains why Planning Permission is necessary.

Why do we have Planning Permission?

As the population of Wirral continues to grow, new developments are needed, including modern facilities for shopping, leisure and businesses. We have to balance the amount of new buildings to protect our existing towns, villages and countryside. This protection includes keeping historic buildings and streets unchanged, preventing increased problems of noise, pollution and traffic congestion, and minimising the loss of scenic landscapes.

New buildings, major alterations/enlargements of existing buildings, and changes in the use of buildings and land are all considered to be developments and therefore need Planning Permission.

When is Planning Permission needed?

As soon as you are thinking of modifying your property, you should always ask Wirral Council if Planning Permission is needed.

Will I need Planning Permission for a new building or an extension?

New legislation came into use on 1st October 2008

As a general guideline, if there is not already a building on a piece of land, then Planning Permission will be required to erect any new building on the site. If there is already a building and you wish either to extend it or erect another building on the same site then, in certain circumstances, Planning Permission may not be required. For example, you may be able to put up a garden shed, greenhouse or a garage without Planning Permission.

You may also be able to extend your house, but the law relating to house extensions is fairly complex and there are limits on extensions allowed as "permitted development".

When you ask Wirral Council whether your proposed extension requires Planning Permission, we will need to know:

  • the address
  • the 'type' of house it is: flat, terraced, semi-detached or detached. (Note: extending a flat always requires Planning Permission)
  • the size of your garden
  • the position in relation to the existing house and boundaries of any adjoining properties

This is not a full statement of the laws governing permitted development so you should always check with Wirral Council before beginning work.

Will I need Planning Permission for a change of use?

If you want to change the use of a building, then Planning Permission may be needed before the new use is brought into operation. A change of use includes things like:

  • Splitting a house in to flats
  • Converting an old barn in to a house
  • Running a small business from your house

Will I need Planning Permission for general maintenance work?

Normally external maintenance work, such as re-painting, re-pointing brickwork, re-roofing, does not require Planning Permission. Also, Planning Permission is not usually required for the demolition of a house or for any internal alterations.

However, there are exceptions to the rule. Listed buildings and properties within a Conservation Area are the most important exceptions. There are also some areas in the Borough where your normal 'rights' of 'permitted development' do not apply, as a consequence of what is called an "Article 4 Direction".

Will I need Planning Permission for multiple occupancy conversions?

You need Planning Permission and Building Regulation approval to convert a property for multiple occupation (i.e. to turn it into flats or bedsits).

For free advice and guidance on the suitability of such a use, please contact us.

For free Building Regulation advice on conversions and alterations, please contact us.

Will I need Planning Permission to demolish a building?

There are planning controls over the demolition of buildings. You will need permission to demolish houses, bungalows, flats etc and buildings such as warehouses, factories, offices, churches, theatres and shops that adjoining houses, flats etc.

For the purpose of the planning controls, each house in a pair of semi-detached houses and every house in a row of terraced houses is to be regarded as a separate building, whether or not in residential use.

Certain demolitions are exempt from these planning controls:

  • Demolition of a building of less than 50 cubic metres (when measured externally)
  • Demolition of the whole or part of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure (unless in a conservation area)
  • Listed buildings, buildings in conservation areas and scheduled monuments are subject to control under other legislation.
  • Demolition of a building that is not a dwellinghouse, or adjoining a dwellinghouse. (The definition of a dwellinghouse should be taken to include buildings in use as a dwelling and those, if not currently in use, last used for such purposes. It includes detached, semi-detached or terraced houses, residential homes or hostels, and buildings containing one or more flats.)

In special circumstances, buildings can be demolished with out the permission of the planning authority. These circumstances should ALWAYS be double checked before demolition, but include things like urgent necessary demolition in the interests of health or safety, required demolition a result of an order requiring the removal of the building made under Section 102 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; or demolition required by virtue of a planning agreement or obligation made under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

How do I get advice on Planning Permission?

The laws relating to Planning Permission are complicated and Wirral Council's planning staff will do their best to help you. Please take advantage of this service - it could save you time and money.

You can discuss your proposals with the Planning Officer for your area before submitting an application. It is preferable for you to write, describing your proposals, and enclosing a sketch plan. You can also make an appointment to see a Planning Officer.

You should also check whether any other form of permission is likely to be required; for example, Building Regulations approval.

Advice leaflets have been prepared for the following matters:

We also have leaflets explaining the policies in some special areas of the Borough. Please ask to see if your area is covered by such a policy.

How many applications are approved?

Over 80% of applications are approved.