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What is the difference between Planning and Building Control?

Without Building Control Approval it would be virtually impossible for you to sell your house, since prospective buyers and mortgage lenders would assume it was structurally unsafe. So the purpose of drawing up detailed plans is very specific – to gain planning consent, and to show that your ideas will comply with the Building Regulations. The plans will also form the basis for working drawings for construction purposes, to guide the builders on site.

It’s important to realise that Planning and Building Regulations are two separate departments. What they both have in common, is they are both run by the Local Authority, respectively the Development Control Department and the Building Control at the Council offices.

The primary responsibility of the planning department is essentially to balance one person’s right to build against the rights of other interested parties, such as the neighbours. They’ll also aim to protect the character of an area from being wrecked by hideous, overbearing new buildings, or from potentially disturbing changes of use. This is the reason why you can’t convert your living room into a night club establishment. The Planners will want you to achieve a decent looking home extension that doesn’t unduly detract from other local residents’ enjoyment of their homes. They will also take into account any road safety implications resulting from new driveways.

The objective of Building Control, on the other hand, is to ensure compliance with basic safety standards and prevent the erection of jerry-built death traps. One thing both department have in common is their draconian enforcement powers should anyone choose to carry out an illegal development.


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