Planning Permission and Building Control

Planning permission and building control is something that is not always thought about by interior designers. It’s something that we tend to have to deal with somewhere along the line. But generally this is something that architects have to deal with before designers are even thought about.

At the time of writing I am going through some detailed conversations with the local council about some drawings that are needed in order to comply with the planning permission they have given my client. In short, the architect submitted some plans, changed them, at the wish of the council, then permission was agreed (last year) and now I have been brought on board to carry them out.

The permission is given as long as we provide detailed drawings of three things:

  • The exterior doors (this is not clear if this is the new glazed doors to the rear patio courtyard or the front door)
  • The new pavement light slabs that are to replace the existing leaking ones
  • The new ‘conservatory’ lantern light that will replace the existing one

The good news is that the exterior doors and lantern light are being provided by the lovely people at David Salisbury. Which means they can hopefully supply two thirds of what I need.

Pavement Lights

The only other thing being the pavement lights; which need a conversation as I have just found out that I have to replace ‘like for like’ and not go for something super stylish. It’s something that I have to bear! Here are the current pavement lights….

planning permission and building control

Underneath, the pavement lights look a lot worse…

planning permission and building control

The surround to the glass has been leaking and is causing condensation which is leading to the damp patches..

planning permission and building control

So these will need to be replaced and the whole area tidied up.

Today I am meeting the client to go through the design for the lantern light and doors. A few things will come up.

Lantern Light and Rear Exterior Doors

The lantern light design is not quite matching the design that was submitted to the council. They have flagged it so I need to make sure it does fit to the drawings. I hope there will be no upset during the meeting on this subject. The last thing I want to hear is “sorry, this is the only design that we can provide”.

The other mentionable concerns the material of the glazed doors. We are planning to have a timber (wood) set of doors. Bifold – so that they open fully and directly onto the back courtyard. The council have stipulated metal. This is actually quite unusual. Normally timber is preferred. ‘Powder coated metal’ is usual for bifold doors but timber is nicer and more in keeping with the existing and proposed new windows – which are all timber wood.

So as long as the drawings are forthcoming for the council, I can submit them and then get on with other parts of the ‘Sloane Square Job’ as I am now calling it!

Planning decisions will take 8 weeks to come through. During this time, we are not able to do any work on these items, which is fine as the whole house has to be gutted.

Fire Risks – What am I looking at?

The only other thing that I need to look at today is the window that is in Bedroom 4 on the Lower Ground.

With all the internal walls coming down and a new staircase going in (replacing the old one that will be removed completely); there are understandable concerns about fire safety. Regulations in the UK keep changing and more stringent measures are needed to ensure that there are adequate escape routes. Especially from bedrooms.

Bedroom 4 has a window leading to the back. I need to know where it goes, I think it’s a garden. I want to measure it too. You need a certain space (legally) for it to qualify as an escape route. Technically the person in Bedroom 4 will have a better escape route than before as they have access to the new staircase, just outside their door. But the window is the obvious (and only other) route out of that room if fire occurs near the door.

For those wondering if there are people that can advise on this type of thing, I have good news. There are plenty of Fire Risk Officers around who can give some free phone advice and produce a report (for a fee) if it is needed for Building Control.

Which brings us neatly to Planning Permission and Building Control.

Building Control

Building Control is something that can’t be avoided on a project of this size. In fact I’ve come to think of it as a friend rather than a hindrance as it can shed light on things that you may not have thought of.

It’s essential for things like change of use (room changing from a bedroom to a bathroom for example), new stairways, exterior changes and such like.

In this case, they are interested in our new staircase and subsequent fire routes. They’ll also be interested in the new lantern light and bifold doors.

Building Control is your friend. And it’s your clients friend! When you go to sell a property, all your paperwork must be in order. You need official sign off to make everything legal. Your clients will expect this and whether it’s the architect or you – make sure that this happens at the end of the project.

I’ve already used London Building Control before and am doing so again on this occasion.

Its best to email or call first to see who you are dealing with and then send what plans you have through and go from there.

If anything is unclear from the email, call and clarify so that you understand what they need. They won’t need to see the project beforehand but they will want to see it when structures go in. They can coordinate with you or your builder but make sure you know when they are coming. It’s always good to see them onsite so you can answer and questions and vice versa.

So today I am going to inspect the window for that Bedroom 4 and get some measurements. The window looks like this..

planning permission and building control

It should look out over next doors garden so is a good exit for the house should it be needed. Needless to say, this will be replaced with a new window frame and casement when the time comes!

So although planning permission and building control can be a pain to do, you do have something to work to and you’re given some boundaries.

You will have to patiently explain to clients at times, all the steps you are having to take though. Sometimes they can be very frustrated at the time it takes to get permissions and sign offs!

Let’s get measuring!