Major alterations to your home

If you're making changes to your home you must stay in line with building regulations. You may also need planning permission.

Nearly all building work will involve working with our Building Control team, whether planning permission is needed or not.

What's the difference between planning permission and building control?

Building control ensures that any work is done safely in accordance with Building Regulations. This includes new buildings, alterations to existing buildings, ensuring that any demolition is carried out safely, and dealing with any buildings that become unsafe and are therefore a risk to the public.

For further information and contact details, please visit our Building Control section. If you're in any doubt about proposed works, speak to Building Control first. It is a lot cheaper to talk before works begin than have to deal with major problems at a later date.

The council’s planning function relates to applications that affect how a building or area is used or how it looks – for example applications to:

  • build new structures or extensions
  • change the fabric or use of existing buildings
  • change the use of land or a building
  • put up signs and advertising
  • changes to properties in Conservation Areas
  • Listed Building Consent

Planning is a statutory function – a duty given to the council by central government. We have to be very careful how we apply this duty – we could legitimately be criticised (or even sued) for being too strict or too lenient.  The planning system is applied in the public interest, not to protect the rights of one individual over another.

For example, owners need to be careful before converting a ‘bedsit’ house into a single family home, or vice versa. Either could be a change of use and may require planning consent.

If you build or alter something without getting planning permission, this would be an unauthorised development and you may be forced to make expensive alterations, or even restore the building to its original state. It really isn’t worth it - check before you build.

Planning issues are dealt with by the Development Control team. For further information and contact details, please see our Planning section.

If you live in or own a Listed Building, you will almost definitely know already. A building is listed because of special architectural or historic interest. You may well need planning or listed building consent before you carry out improvement or repair work to a listed property either inside or out.

It’s worth remembering that people selling products or services such as replacement windows aren’t always fully aware of the regulations on conservation areas or listed building consent, so it is strongly recommended that you talk to our Conservation & Design team before starting any work or agreeing any contract.

There are over 30 conservation areas in Brighton & Hove where there are restrictions on the alterations you can make to your property. Further information and contact details are available in our Conservation section.

The Party Wall Act

If you want to do any major work to your property on an existing party wall – a wall that is shared between you and your neighbour, including a garden wall – this act states that you need to give your neighbour formal notice before starting work. You also need to inform your neighbour if you intend to build a new wall (on a back extension, for example) that will be up to or on the boundary, or if you are excavating up to the boundary.

You do not need consent for minor work, such as putting up a shelf or hanging pictures, or even hacking into a wall to replace or add to electrical wiring. If you are in any doubt, there is an explanatory booklet produced by the Department of Communities & Local Government available at www.communities.gov.uk/housing/publications.htm.