Retrospective Planning Permission: Its Importance and Requisites

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Buildings are often built and renovations are sometimes made without having acquired planning permission from the required authorities. Instances such as this take place frequently and for several reasons. Some people end up starting construction earlier than anticipated due to the materials arriving too early or the contract with the laborers having already been signed. An individual having construction done for the first time may not be aware that they needed planning permission until the building was already made.

To ensure that there are no legal complications as well as confirm that the building stands in compliance with local regulations, one should submit a Retrospective Planning Permission in London to the appropriate authorities. Acquiring planning permission is crucial when someone intends to erect a completely new building or make renovations to one already existing. 

One should make it a point to get planning permission or even an RPP, especially when they are unsure if one is required. Once approved, a document will be provided by the authorities that green lights the project and give the owner much-needed mental peace. In any other case, not having planning permission could lead to criminal charges, invalidate insurance policies or get forced to tear the project down. 

Find out the crucial aspects of Retrospective Planning Permission by reading this guide.

What is retrospective Planning Permission?

Standard planning permission is official consent granted by the local council to approve any major changes to a building or property, especially if the property is not permitted within their development rights. 

A Retrospective Planning Permission is requested after the changes have already been made to the property as authorized under section 73A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In most cases, an RPP application is made when a complaint has been submitted to the local authorities or when an enforcement officer calls for one. 

On the other hand, the person in charge of the construction may just have noticed that they missed such a vital step and thus submits an RPP to avoid legal action, prevent insurance invalidation or sell the property.

Take note that a Retrospective Planning Permission would be treated the same as standard planning permission even if the work has already been committed.

Retrospective Planning Permission Vs Building Regulations Control 

Planning permission assessment involves affirming whether or not a new building is impending on the quality of life of the neighboring inhabitants in the area. Instances like obstructing the neighbor’s view or preventing the passage of sunlight are all grounds for legal action. If a building belonging to a cottage area is being renovated with a new modern design, it may significantly change the appearance of the locality thus making Planning Permission a necessary pre-requisite.

Building Control Regulations on the other hand are more concerned with the level of safety and efficiency established in a building structure. This is inclusive of factors like efficiency, resistance, sound insulation and fuel conservation. To attain BCR, the building owner must demonstrate that their construction is not a massive drain in terms of heating and energy.

What is the Need to Apply for Planning Permission

Anyone who plans on executing a new building project or decides on changing the overall purpose or functionality of an existing construction may need to apply for planning permission. In another case, a range of home renovation projects already covered within their development rights don’t need to acquire planning permission. 

This applies to instances when the interiors of a home, garage or attic are being changed. These can be converted into a guest room or a lounge area or simply a matter of adding new windows or doors. It is best to keep in mind that changes to a listed property may invoke certain specific conditions thus it is important to check the rules with the Local Planning Authority before proceeding. 

What Happens After Applying?

Once the Retrospective Planning Permission has been submitted, it is now up to the Local Planning Authority to consider whether grant the planning permission.

They will consider the following factors;

  • The purpose for which the development will be used.
  • The effect the project would have on its surrounding area.
  • The number, size, layout as well as external appearance of the building.
  • The number of infrastructures available, for example, roads and water supply.
  • Landscaping requirements.
  • The property’s potential to withstand noise and traffic pollution.
  • Any violations to the conservation of listed building projects.  
  • The duration required to complete the project.

On average the local planning authorities would let their decision be known within 8 weeks. Although, larger and more complex projects can take as long as 13 weeks to assess.    

Are RPPs always Accepted or Mostly Rejected?

All Retrospective Planning Permission applications are treated with the same diligence as a standard Planning Application. There is no guarantee that a planning application would get approval and it all depends on the types of changes that have been made and how those changes affect the property’s surroundings.

Fortunately, nearly 4 out of every 5 planning permission gets approved so it should offer some solace and encourage builders to look at the outcome with a positive attitude while being prepared for the worst-case scenario.     

What to do after an RPP application is Refused?

In case a planning application is refused, the Local Authority would then issue an enforcement notice making the following demands;

  • Stop all work immediately.
  • Reverse Changes that have already been applied.
  • Reconstruct any Demolished Buildings.

Non-compliance with such changes within the prescribed time limit could result in the initiation of criminal charges. It could also result in invalidating any current insurance policies and make it even more difficult to acquire insurance in the future.

However, in case a project is already covered within permitted development rights, they can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate or even place an appeal with the Planning Authority.

Is it Possible to Appeal?

Yes, it is possible to appeal to the Local Planning Authority in the following cases;

  • Planning Authority Refuses the Application
  • Doesn’t approve project renovations reserved under an “outline permission”
  • Disapproves something which has already been approved by the Local Planning Authority under a previously applied planning permission.
  • Grants permission but includes objectionable clauses.
  • Fails to deliver a verdict within the government-prescribed deadline of 13 weeks.
  • Serves an enforcement notice that the property owner disagrees with.

Take note that an appeal can take several months to complete.

Time Limit for Retrospective Planning Permission?

When it has been several years since the completion of a project and no enforcement orders were received during that time, in which case one could apply for a Lawful Development Certificate;

Four Year Rule

A project manager or owner of a class 3 house, flat or construction that has been used for the past 4 years can resort to the Four-Year rule when applying for a lawful Development Certificate after having demonstrated that people living in the locality were aware of the project and has made no objections known during that time.

10 Year Rule 

The 10-year rule is applicable in the case of class 4 projects for instance Multiple Occupation buildings. It takes effect when there has been a change of use which is considered a breach of the intended plan.

In certain exemplary situations, the project head can apply after the four or ten-year periods. It is best to consult directly with the Local Council for further details.


Acquiring planning permission is a complex process. One that involves submitting detailed documentation like Preparation Of Building Regs Drawings in London. If a person has not applied for planning permission before project completion, they can apply for a Retrospective Planning Permission with the Local Planning Commission.

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