What's the difference between building regulations and planning permission?
It is generally realised that a form of permission is required for building work or alterations of properties. However, it may not always be clear how the planning and building regulations approval regimes differ.
You may also have responsibilities under the construction health and safety regulations.
Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health of people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power are conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings.
Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities, and countryside develop. This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access, and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.
For many types of building work, separate permission under both regimes (separate processes) will be required. For other building work, such as internal alterations, building regulations approval will probably be needed, but planning permission may not be. If you are in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority or a building control body.
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Detailed regulations cover specific topics including structural integrity, fire protection, accessibility, energy performance, acoustic performance, protection against falls, and electrical and gas safety.
They also lay standards for drains, ventilation, protection against the ingress of water, and protection against contamination including methane and radon gas.
The building regulations are defined by the English and Welsh Governments.
The Building Regulations approved documents
Requires buildings to be designed, constructed, or altered so as to be structurally safe and robust, and so as not to impair the structural stability of other buildings. It stipulates design standards for use on all buildings and gives simple design rules for most masonry and timber elements for traditional domestic buildings. It includes diagrams of structures such as roof frames and brick walls and tables of material strengths.
B: Fire safety
Covers all precautionary measures necessary to provide safety from fires for building occupants, persons in the vicinity of buildings, and firefighters. Requirements and guidance cover means of escape in case of fire, fire detection, and warning systems, the fire resistance of structural elements, fire separation, protection, compartmentation, and isolation to prevent fire spread, control of flammable materials, and access and facilities for firefighting.
C: Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture
Includes the weather-tightness and water-tightness of buildings, subsoil drainage, site preparation, and measures to deal with contaminated land, radon, methane, and all other site-related hazardous and dangerous substances.
D: Toxic substances
This controls hazards from the toxic chemicals used in cavity-fill insulation systems.
E: Resistance to the passage of sound
Deals with requirements for sound insulation between buildings, including both new dwellings and the conversion of buildings to form dwellings. These cover sound reduction between rooms for residential purposes and designated rooms in dwellings, and acoustic conditions for common areas in flats and schools.
Includes standards for ventilation and air quality for all buildings. It also covers requirements for the prevention of condensation.
See Approved Document F for more information.
G: Sanitation, hot water safety, and water efficiency
Lays down standards for the provision of sanitary and washing facilities, bathrooms, and hot water provision. It also covers safety requirements with respect to unvented hot water systems.
H: Drainage and waste disposal
Provides guidance on adequate drainage, and also deals with pollution prevention and sewage infrastructure and maintenance. Technical design standards cover sanitary pipework, foul drainage, rainwater drainage and disposal, wastewater treatment, and discharges and cesspools.
J: Heat-producing appliances and Fuel storage system
Covers the construction, installation, and use of boilers, chimneys, flues, hearths, and fuel storage installations. Also, requirements to control fire sources and prevent burning, pollution, carbon monoxide poisoning, etc.
K: Protection from falling, collision, and impact
Set standards for the safety of stairways, ramps, and ladders, together with requirements for balustrading, windows, and vehicle barriers to prevent falling. Also included are requirements for guarding against and warning of, hazards from the use and position of doors and windows.
L: Conservation of fuel and power
Controls the insulation values of building elements, the allowable area of windows, doors, and other openings, the air permeability of the structure, the heating efficiency of boilers, hot water storage, and lighting. It also controls mechanical ventilation and air conditioning systems, space heating controls, airtightness testing of larger buildings, solar emission, the certification, testing, and commissioning of heating and ventilation systems, and requirements for energy meters. It also sets requirements for Carbon Index ratings.
M: Access to and use of buildings
Requires the inclusive provision of ease of access to, and circulation within, all buildings, together with requirements for facilities for disabled people.
N: Glazing - Safety in relation to impact, opening, and cleaning
(Withdrawn on 6 April 2013 other than in Wales where it still applies).
Lays down the requirements for the use of safety glazing to avoid impact hazards and for the suitable awareness and definition of glazed areas. Also included are safety requirements relating to the use and cleaning of windows.
Overheating mitigation requirements for new residential buildings.
P: Electrical safety
Covers the design, installation, inspection, and testing of electrical installations in order to prevent injuries from electrical shocks and burns, and to prevent injuries arising from fires due to electrical components overheating or arcing.
Q: Security - Dwellings
From 1 October 2015 for use in England, it provides that reasonable provision must be made to resist unauthorised access to any dwelling; and any part of a building from which access can be gained to a flat within the building.
R: High-speed electronic communications networks
Approved Document R takes effect on 1 January 2017 for use in England. It introduces a new requirement for in-building physical infrastructure which enables connections to broadband networks.
S: Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles
From 15 June 2022, Part S of the building regulations requires that certain buildings with associated parking must have access to electric vehicle charge points.
7: Materials and workmanship
The requirement for carrying out building work using the proper materials and in a workmanlike manner.
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