What is the difference between planning permission and building regulations?

It is a question that I get asked frequently by Clients about to embark on a building project and whilst to the layman they may look as though they are similar pieces of legislation, they are very different.

Planning permission in essence is all about what am I legally allowed to build.  

The question to consider is how will whatever I am planning to build affect my neighbours and the community around me!

To give an example of this, let’s imagine that I fancy putting a helipad on the top of my house …

Typical questions to consider might include

• What it looks like, in so far as is it in keeping with the other helicopter landing pads on the street

• Will it have and impact on parking

• Will it result in any localised disturbance to the area.

To assist the planning process you will need the services of an architect who will prepare drawings showing the existing and proposed plans and elevations for the works. These are submitted to the local planning authority and then uploaded and made available for consultation online. In addition notices are put up on lampposts in the vicinity of the works notifying your neighbours as to what your proposal is. 

Then when all the comments are gathered in, the proposal will go before a planning committee where any objections are heard and a decision made to whether you can build a helicopter landing pad on your roof.

As soon as your helipad has been approved then you move onto building regulations. This work involves a lot more technical details and is where I enter the process as it will normally require structural engineering calculations and details.   

Building regulations is about how the helipad is constructed and typical questions might include, 

• Will the roof of my house be strong enough to support it? 

• Can I build it out of matchsticks or will I need something stronger?

The main purpose of building regulations is is to make sure that whatever is built is built safely and to the appropriate standard.

So who fancies building a helicopter landing pad on their roof? I’ve had a word with my wife and whilst I’m not good with subtext, I think she was saying no. But having checked on the Internet I’m pretty sure that this has never been done so who fancies giving me the opportunity to show whether the process I’ve described above is accurate. I await your calls ….


Bills sketch