Planning - frequently asked questions
Planning applications decisions
Buildings, drains, walls, road signs, Estate Agent boards etc
Noisy builders and unlicensed properties
Do I need planning permission?
Planning permission is required for most visible external building works and changes of use on private land. Find out more on our Do I need planning permission? page.
Do I need permission to replace windows in my home?
The replacement of windows in a residential property may or may not require planning permission from the council, depending on the planning constraints on the property and the appearance of the proposed windows. Find out more on our replacement of windows page.
Where can I get a planning application form?
You can download one from the planning applications forms page to print out and fill in. You can also make your planning application online.
Can I get help with filling in the planning application form?
The form comes with guidance notes to help you with filling it in. Additionally, you can telephone or book an appointment to meet the duty planner who will also be able to help you.
Is there a charge for making a planning application?
For some applications there are no fees payable, for others, various fees apply according to the type of application. You can download a current schedule of fees from the planning application forms page.
What happens when a planning application is submitted?
The application is checked by our validation team to make sure we have everything we need to process it. The notes that accompany the application form and additional advice priovided in the local planning applications requirements document explain what is needed to make an application valid.
If anything is missing, we will write to the applicant (or the applicant’s agent) explaining what else is needed. When everything is in order, the application will be registered as valid. This marks the starting point of the target period which, by the end of, we will aim to have made a decision on the application.
The application will be allocated to a case officer and we will send out an acknowledgement letter. This letter states the date by which we will aim to have made a decision on the application and the case officer’s contact details (including direct telephone number and email address), the case officer will be the point of contact throughout the application process.
For more information, please see our separate document on the planning application process.
Can I look at the plans for a current planning application?
Copies of the plans for current applications can be viewed online through the planning applications database or, at local libraries throughout the borough. For more information see the viewing plans for current planning applications page.
How does consultation work?
We are required by law to consult those whom we think may be interested in an application, allowing at least 21 days for responses.
Depending on the type of application, we may consult in the following ways:
- Individual letters to neighbours
- A site notice
- Press adverts
- Notices in public reception areas such as libraries.
Specialist officers from within planning (our Conservation and Urban Design team, for example) may be consulted on the application. We may also write to other sections of the council, such as transport or environmental health, to get their views.
If the site of the application is near the boundary with another London borough, we may also consult planning officers from that borough.
How can I object to a planning application?
If you would like to object to a planning application, you can email, fax or write to the Planning Division:
- If you would like to comment on an application, then you can use our planning applications database to do this - enter the application reference number and then click on the ‘submit comments’ button (you are only able to comment on applications currently under consideration).
- You can also write to us here in Planning at the address given above, stating your name and address, the application address and reference number.
Whichever way you choose to contact us, your comments will be passed to the relevant case officer who will take them into account when preparing their report and recommendation.
What do I have to do to meet Equality Act requirements on accessibility?
On 1 October 2004 the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 introduced new duties to make reasonable adjustments to the physical environment of their premises on those who provide services to the public such as retailers, leisure providers, health services, employers and local authorities.
The Equality Act 2010 harmonised existing provisions, including the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 into a single streamlined framework of equalities legislation. The duty to make reasonable adjustments in relation to accessibility is set out in paragraph 2 of both Schedule 2 (in relation to public authorities and service providers); Schedule 8 (in relation to employers) and Schedule 15 (in relation to associations) of the Equality Act.
What is a flood risk assessment?
Flood risk is a material planning consideration; it is the applicant’s responsibility to assess and mitigate that risk. Find out more on our Flood risk assessments page.
What is contaminated land?
Contaminated land is land that contains substances either on the surface or below ground that present a risk of significant harm to human health or to our wider environment, including water resources, the local ecosystem and structures. Find out how this relates to planning on our Contaminated land and planning page.
What are Design and Access Statements?
Since 10 August 2006 there has been a requirement for most types of planning applications to be accompanied by a Design and Access Statement. This requirement comes from the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act.
A Design and Access Statement is a short report which accompanies and supports a planning application. It illustrates the process that has informed the development proposal and explains and justifies the proposal in a structured way.
The level of detail required in a Design and Access Statement will depend on the scale and complexity of the application, and the length of the statement will vary accordingly. Statements must be proportionate to the complexity of the application, but need not be long. The use of sketches, plans and photos can often help explain and justify the proposals.
More information on the new requirements can be found below or in the new Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) document, Design and Access Statements: How to Write, Read and Use Them.
When is a Design and Access Statement required?
It is a requirement that all planning applications are accompanied by a Design and Access Statement except for the following types of application:
- Change of use
- Engineering or mining operations
- Householder development (except in conservation areas where a statement is still required).
What should a Design and Access Statement contain?
The Design and Access Statement should be a single document reflecting an integrated approach. It should be concise but cover all the necessary issues. The level of detail included in the statement will depend on the scale and complexity of the proposal.
The Design and Access Statement should address the following issues:
How much development is proposed. For residential development, this means the number of proposed units and for all other development, this means the proposed floor space for each proposed use.
The way in which buildings, routes and open spaces (both private and public) are provided, placed and orientated in relation to each other and buildings and spaces surrounding the development.
The height, width and length of a building or buildings in relation to its surroundings.
The treatment of private and public spaces to enhance or protect the amenities of the site and the area in which it is situated through hard and soft landscaping measures. Statements should also explain how landscaping will be maintained.
The aspect of a place or building that determines the visual impression it makes, including the external built form of the development, its architecture, materials, decoration, lighting, colour and texture.
Explanation of the proposed use or mix of uses for buildings, their distribution across the site, the appropriateness of the access to and between them and relationship to surrounding uses.
The access component of the statement relates to 'access to the development' and not to the internal aspects of individual buildings. This section should explain how the proposal has been designed to allow individuals access to buildings, spaces and public transport network. It should explain how policy has been met and how any consultation has influenced the proposals.
Statements may include other information as well. For example, statements can explain the energy performance of buildings or whether they meet design standards such as Lifetime Homes or Building for Life Standards, or they may explain how the public has influenced the plan.
Are Design and Access Statements required for other types of application?
Yes – Design and Access Statements are required for applications for Listed Building Consent. However, they are not required for applications relating to advertisement control, tree preservation orders or storage of hazardous substances.
What should be in a Design and Access Statement accompanying an application for Listed Building Consent?
Design and Access Statements accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent will be similar to Design and Access Statements for planning applications, although there will be some differences because of the differing nature of the application. Where there is a planning application submitted in parallel with an application for Listed Building Consent, a single, combined statement should address the requirements of both. The combined statement should address the elements required in relation to a planning application in the normal way and the additional requirements in relation to Listed Building Consent.
Information on use, amount and landscaping is not required for Listed Building Consent Design and Access Statements that do not also accompany a planning permission. Otherwise scale, layout and appearance are broadly the same. Statements accompanying applications for Listed Building Consent should explain how the design has taken account of:
- The historic and special architectural importance of the building.
- The particular physical features of the building that justify its designation as a listed building.
- The building's setting.
Where can I find out more about the planning application process?
Our guide to the planning application process shows what happens to an average application after it is submitted, including validation, consultation, how to comment on an application, and the decision making process. The document contains descriptions and information about the planning application process and a diagram that illustrates the process for a typical planning application.
What are permitted development rights and how do Article 3 restrictions affect them?
Permitted development rights, as their name implies, grant a right to carry out certain types of development without the need to obtain a separate planning permission. Article 3 restrictions can limit these rights. Find out more on our permitted development rights and restrictions page
How is a recommendation on a planning application reached?
The case officer will take into account the following when making a judgment on an application:
- Their observations from visiting the site.
- Relevant planning policies contained in the Unitary Development Plan (UDP).
- Design and layout.
- External appearance and materials.
- Access for disabled people.
- Impact on the amenities of neighbours (e.g. loss of daylight, sunlight and privacy).
- Noise nuisance.
- Traffic and parking issues.
- Loss or increase of a particular type of use of land.
- Comments received through the consultation process which relate to any of these issues.
The issues on this list are known as 'material planning considerations'.
The case officer will then write a report which recommends that planning permission either be granted or refused.
How is a decision on a planning application made?
Decisions about applications are made either:
Under delegated powers, senior planning officers have the authority to make decisions to grant or refuse planning permission. These decisions mostly relate to smaller scale proposals (such as alterations, small extensions to property, conversions, straightforward changes of use, etc.). One of the benefits of this system is that applications do not have to wait their turn to be heard at the Planning Applications Committee, which means they can be processed more efficiently. Planning permission for an application can be both granted and refused in this way.
How do I hear about planning application decisions?
Formal decision letters are sent out to the applicant and all objectors as soon as possible.
You can check on the planning applications database to find out whether a decision on a particular application has been made. For this, you will require the correct address and preferably the correct application reference number.
How long does the decision making process on planning applications take?
We aim to deal with applications within the following timescales:
- 60% of major applications within 13 weeks
- 65% of minor applications within 8 weeks
- 80% of other applications within 8 weeks
In all categories of application, more complicated or controversial proposals are likely to take longer. In addition, applications which are submitted with incomplete or inadequate information also take longer.
Ways to help speed up the processing of an application include consulting planning officers for advice before submitting a proposal, and making sure all the required information is included at the time of submitting your proposal.
If you are unhappy about the way an application has been handled, you can contact our Corporate Complaints team. Please note though that even upheld complaints about the handling of an application would not allow us to overturn a decision and that an appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is the only way to do this.
What can I do if I am unhappy about the decision on my planning application?
You have a right of appeal against the decision to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Planning Inspectorate is an independent body and will usually deal with such an appeal.
How can I get copies of past planning decisions?
You can find the majority of planning application decision notices through our online planning applications database, which has records of all applications from 1986 onwards including copies of the great majority decision notices issued. For further information on obtaining decision notices please see our copies of decision notices page.
Can I look at the planning history file for an existing building?
Planning have files on past planning applications submitted in the borough. Some files date back to the 1940’s however most of our files date from the 1960’s onward. To find out how to access this information and what is available online please see our historic planning application information page.
Can I find out whether planning permission has been granted for something which is currently being built?
If you have the address of where the works are being carried out, you can find out whether there are any planning permissions which relate to that address by using our planning applications database.
How do I find out who owns a particular property, fence or wall?
The documents detailing the land ownership for a property (the title deeds) will sometimes indicate the ownership of fences and walls, though not always. Lambeth Council does not keep records of land ownership as this function is performed by a national body, the Land Registry, who keep land ownership records for England and Wales.
How do I find out who owns a particular access way and who is responsible for maintaining it?
The planning service does not look after this information. You need to contact Lambeth’s environment call centre on 020 7926 1000 who will be able to direct you to the right department.
How do I find out where drains run under a property?
The planning department do not look after this information. You need to contact Lambeth’s Building Control team and the Minet library.
Who is responsible for getting road signs replaced or speed bumps put in place?
The planning department is not responsible for works to road signs or roads themselves. Our Transport and Highways team will be able to help.
Who can help me with queries about doing work to a party wall?
Lambeth’s Building Control team can offer some advice about party walls, however this is ultimately a civil matter between property owners. You can download information and guidance about party wall issues from the Communities and Local Government website. Our Housing team have some online advice about serving party wall notices where a property is owned by the Council.
What can I do if there are builders working until late at night or making noise?
If the building works are being carried out outside normal working hours (i.e. 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday and 8am – 1pm on Saturdays) or causing noise disturbance then our Noise Control team will be able to help you.
Where do I complain if there is a property operating outside its licensed hours?
You need to contact Lambeth’s environment call centre on 020 7926 1000 who will be able to direct you to the right department depending on what sort of property it is.
What are the criteria for listing a building?
Buildings for listing are considered on the following points:
- Architectural interest: Buildings of importance because of their design, decoration and craftsmanship, as well as important examples of particular building types and techniques.
- Historical interest: Illustrations of important aspects of the nation's social, economic, cultural or military history.
- Historic association: Close historical association with nationally important people or events.
- Group value: Especially where buildings comprise an important architectural or historic group or a fine example of planning, e.g. squares, terraces or model villages.
For further information, see the Listed Building section of our website.
What are the effects of listing a building?
You will need the council's consent to demolish a listed building or for any alteration or extension which would affect its character as a building of architectural or historic interest. It is a criminal offence to carry out works to a listed building without prior listed building consent - even if you did not know that the building was listed.
For further information, see the Listed Building section of our website.
How do I report an Estate Agent board that breaches regulations?
Regulations regarding the display of adverts on properties, for the period when it is for sale or to let, are listed on our Estate Agent boards page.
If you suspect that an estate agent board is being displayed in contravention of the regulations you can report it to the Planning Enforcement Team. Ideally this should be done online, or alternatively by paper form, by phone on 020 7926 1185 or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.