I was asked by a local builder recently whether I could help out with a planning problem. What the situation was, was that a gentleman in the grounds of his rural house had a stable and he wanted to convert that stable into an annex for his family. As his children were starting to get a little bit older they want to have more space so he wanted to put the kids in another building so he could have a bit of peace and quiet, I can relate to that!
So, he understandably thought that he needed to go for planning permission so he employed quite an expensive architect who said: “yes no problem we'll get you planning permission to turn your stable into an annex.” Then the local authority started to mess him about.
The first thing they wanted was a series of surveys including an owl survey to make sure there weren't any barn owls in the stable. They wanted another survey to make sure there weren't any bats and then another survey regarding newts because he was within 200m of a pond and lastly he needed a structural survey to say whether or not this building was structurally sound and suitable for conversion. So he's already spent several thousand pounds for around four surveys and has also spent quite a lot of money with this architect. As you can imagine he was quite upset after several months of going back and forth when the local authority then refused him permission.
This is when I was asked to come in and have a look at the problem. I noticed straight away that this conversion was a horse stable, a stable is for pets and therefore pets are part of an ancillary residential use whereby you store pets eg if you were to keep greyhounds in your garden, the building in your garden is ancillary to the main use of your house.
So the upshot of it was that he could change the insides of his stable to any residential use that he wanted without the need for planning permission. Now, the trick here is we use Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act which says that any changes that are purely internal on a building, which doesn’t change the use of that building, do not require planning permission. So all the work that he wanted to do to create a bedroom, a lounge, a kitchen and a bathroom he didn't actually require planning permission because the stable was ancillary to the main house so after he’d spent all that money on the architect, he could have saved that money by using me. He is now in the process of suing the architect to get his fees back, I wish him luck.
So no, not everything requires planning permission if you know the ways around it you can circumvent the planning laws.