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Planning applications - frequently asked questions (FAQ)

  • 1. I need to know about restrictions on permitted development rights

    ​Articles 3 and 4 restrictions on permitted development

    Certain developments and changes of use can be carried out without planning permission, under the provisions of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended).

    However, in addition to granting rights to carry out certain developments without the need to apply for formal planning permission, Article 3 of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) places restrictions on those permitted development rights. Key restrictions include:

    • Any permitted development right must be exercised in accordance with any exception, limitation or condition specified in relation to that class of development
    • The GPDO does not permit development contrary to any condition imposed on any planning permission
    • If the existing development/use is unlawful, it does not benefit from permitted development rights, i.e. the permitted development rights in Schedule 2 do not apply if:
      • in the case of permission granted in connection with an existing building, the building operations involved in the construction of that building are unlawful
      • in the case of permission granted in connection with an existing use, that use is unlawful
    • Permitted development rights do not authorise development that requires or involves the formation, laying out or material widening of a means of access to an existing highway that is a trunk road or classified road, or creates an obstruction to the view of persons using any highway used by vehicular traffic, so as to be likely to cause danger
    • Demolition is not permitted except as set out in Part 31 of the GPDO
    • Advice is also provided about development within the meaning of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Such development is not permitted by the GPDO unless confirmed by a screening opinion or a screening direction

    Article 4 Removal of Permitted Development Rights

    Permitted development rights on properties may be removed under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended). Permitted development rights for individual properties or larger developments may be removed at the time the original application is granted permission. If unsure about your property, please check with us whether its permitted development rights have been removed.

    In addition, permitted development rights may be removed in Conservation Areas under Article 4(2).

    Article 4(2) Directions

    Conservation Areas are “areas of special architectural or historic interest, the character or appearance of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance”. The designation of such areas however does not automatically mean that the Council has additional powers to achieve these ends. Normally a householder can make modest changes to their property without having first to apply for planning permission. This is known as ‘permitted development’ and is defined in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended). It includes the replacement of windows, doors, roof coverings, the construction of small extensions, porches, hard standings etc.

    The character and appearance of many Conservation Areas has sadly already been partly eroded by unsympathetic changes and the loss of traditional building features. Such alterations include the replacement of traditional doors and windows, removal of chimney stacks, painting of previously unpainted brickwork, removal of boundary walls etc. Although relatively minor changes, cumulatively these alterations significantly detract from the character and appearance of a Conservation Area. Under normal planning powers it is impossible for this to be adequately controlled.

    Article 4(2) Directions - Local Planning Authorities however have powers to remove certain ‘permitted development’ rights by making Article 4(2) Directions. Once a Direction has been served, planning permission is required for those classes of development listed. Such Directions only affect dwelling houses in single occupation (i.e. not subdivided into flats or with individual rooms let to tenants), and only those elevations that front onto a highway or open space (including side elevations of corner properties). Flats, shops, offices and other commercial buildings, and houses in multiple occupation, do not have the benefit of permitted development rights and so are already required to apply for planning permission for changes such as those listed below.

    With an Article 4(2) Direction in place, planning permission will be required for:

    • The enlargement, improvement or other alteration of a dwellinghouse i.e. changes to windows, doors, roof coverings, chimneys, rainwater goods etc
    • Alterations to roofs that materially affect the shape of a dwellinghouse
    • The erection of a front porch
    • The provision of a hard standing
    • The installation, alteration or replacement of a satellite antenna
    • The erection, alteration or removal of a chimney on a dwellinghouse or on a building within the curtilage
    • The erection, alteration or demolition of a front gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure within the front garden, or a side boundary facing the road
    • The painting of a dwellinghouse (apart from like-for-like repainting)

    The Article 4(2) Direction Schedule for your Conservation Area sets out the classes of development for which planning permission is now required.

    As a general guide, planning permission will not normally be granted to replace traditional features with modern replicas, or to use substitute materials such as aluminium or plastic windows, or concrete roof tiles. Applications for alterations that would not preserve or enhance the character or appearance of the Conservation Area will normally be recommended for refusal.

    You do not need planning permission for repairs provided they are carried out in a traditional manner repeating the details of the original elements involved and using the same materials. You can also replace minor worn out elements without permission provided the replacements are like-for-like.

    Planning Fees – There are no fees payable to the Council for any planning application required solely as a result of an Article 4(2) Direction.

    Further information and contacts Further information and advice can be obtained from the Council’s Conservation Officer and from the Development Management Section of the Council’s Sustainable Communities unit. A Duty Planning Officer is available between 10am and 4pm Monday to Friday. To contact the Duty Planning Officer please phone (020) 8496 3000 or call into our reception at Sycamore House, Waltham Forest Council, Forest Road, London E17 4SU. Reception opening times are Monday to Thursday 9am to 5.15pm, and Friday 9am to 5pm. The offices are closed on Bank and Public Holidays.

    Fax 020 8596 6902

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  • 2. I need to know if I need planning permission

    ​How do I obtain advice before I make an application?

    See developers pre application advice

    Select the document that relates to your needs:

    What planning approvals do I need for my proposals?
    Before you start work, make sure that you have all the planning approvals you may need. These are explained in this guide.

    What non-planning approvals do I need for my proposals? (pdf) or (word)
    Before you start work, make sure that you have all the other permissions you may need. These are explained in this guide.
    What is the difference between Development Management and Building Control? (pdf) or (word)
    This guide explains the difference between the development control function of planning and the controls found in the building regulations.

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  • 3. I need information on flood risk

    Development and Flood Risk

    Expectations for climate change indicate that sea and river levels are likely to continue to increase. Flooding from rivers and coastal waters is a natural process that plays an important role in shaping the natural environment and the built environment needs to respond to the new risks of flooding which are likely to increase during the lifetime of planned developments.

    Developers are therefore required to give due consideration in preparing their proposals not only to the risk of flooding on their development, but also to the risk the development may pose to others in the surrounding area who may be put at risk of flooding as a direct or indirect result of that development proceeding.

    National Guidance

    Government Guidance is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The aims of policy are to ensure that flood risk is taken into account at all stages of the planning process, in order to avoid inappropriate development within areas at risk of flooding, to steer development away from areas of highest risk and where possible to reduce flood risk overall. The Environment Agency is given the principle role in delivering these objectives and is seen as a key partner in any development where flood risk issues are raised.

    A risk - based sequential test is applied at all stages in order to steer new development to areas of lowest risk. The Environment Agency Flood Zone Maps identify the probability of flooding in all areas with Zone 1 being at the least risk (low probability), rising to Zone 3a (High Probability) and Zone 3b (the Functional Floodplain). Allied to this, the guidance identifies the Flood Risk Vulnerability Classification of a range of uses. Where the sequential test indicates a sensitive use cannot be located in an area of lower flood risk, an Exception Test will be applied whereby the developer must establish that the development provides wider sustainability benefits to the community and that the development will be safe.

    A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) informs the decision-making process and is required to be submitted on all significant developments in areas where a flood risk exists. Detailed guidance on when a FRA is required is available from the Environment Agency (see `Useful Links' section below). The minimum requirements for a FRA is that it:

    • Should be proportionate to the risk and to the scale of development
    • Considers risk of flooding arising from the development as well as the risk of flooding to the development
    • Takes account of the impacts of climate change
    • Is undertaken by a competent person
    • Considers adverse and beneficial effect of flood risk management, including infrastructure improvements to flood defences
    • Considers measures to provide safe access for future occupiers
    • Considers how the ability of water to soak into the ground may change as a result of development
    • Considers the effects of historic flooding events on people, property, and the natural and historic environment, and
    • is supported by appropriate data and information

    Policies and plans in Waltham Forest

    Under the provisions of the NPPF, the Council has undertaken a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) as part of its Local Development Framework. This includes a number of maps that may assist in preparing a site specific flood risk assessment. These maps can be viewed below:

    The Waltham Forest Core Strategy and Development Management Policies are the current statutory development plan for the Borough. Policies CS4 (Minimising and Adapting to Climate Change) and DM 34 (Water) set out current policy and are generally reflective of the advice in NPPF.

    Any planning application for development within a Flood Zone not supported by a FRA is likely to be invalid and delayed, and any application with an inadequate or incomplete assessment is likely to be refused permission.

    Beyond its planning policies, the Council is also required to produce a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy that can be viewed here.

    Further information

    Below are links to relevant pages providing important advice on flood risk and related issues. Select from the following:

    Communities and Local Government

    Planning Policy Statements and other relevant Government guidance can be viewed and downloaded from this site:

    Some specific links for flood risk advice and information on the CLG website include Planning Policy Statement 25: Development and Flood Risk - Practice Guide

    Environment Agency

    General advice and information can be obtained from the Environment Agency's website:

    The Agency encourages developers to make early contact to seek pre- application guidance on their proposals and a pre-planning enquiry form (V1) is available on the above website.

    New standing advice on consultations has been produced, identifying whether consultation with the Agency will be required and whether a FRA will be required. This can be viewed at

    To find out if your development site lies within a Flood Zone, you can view the Flood Map at

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  • 4. Do I need planning permission to work from home or to run a business from home?

    ​The Planning Portal gives general advice on this issue. Planning permission is likely to be required if your work involves noise activity or similar impacts which you would not normally expect at a residential property. For example:

    • Regular visitors in connection with the business
    • Noise from machinery
    • Non-resident employees working at the property
    • Significant storage of goods in connection with the business
    In some cases it can be difficult to assess whether planning permission is required, if you are in any doubt you should contact Development Manager for advice by emailing or by contacting the Duty Planning Officer by ringing 0208 496 3000 or calling at the Sycamore House reception.
    Our reception is at Sycamore House and is open between 9am and 5.15pm Monday to Thursday or 9am and 5pm Fridays. The offices are closed on Bank and Public Holidays.

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  • 5. How can I contact a Planning Officer for general planning advice?

    For all Planning matters and for General Planning Advice please refer to the Planning Portal at
    If you feel the need to contact us about an application which you have submitted, please send us an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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