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  • Writer's pictureGlenn Thompson

What's the Difference Between Planning and Building Control?

Updated: Jan 21

I'm often asked what's the difference is between a Planning Application and a Building Control application? Here is a guide, hopefully it will explain clearly the difference between them both.


Generally a form of permission is required for building work or alterations to our homes.


Planning Portal NI | Applying for Planning Permission | GT Building Design

THE PLANNING APPLICATION

Once you have agreed the design proposals with me and have the option that you love ❤️ then the next stage is for me is to prepare and lodge a Planning Application on your behalf.


There are two routes for obtaining formal approval from the Planning Service here in Northern Ireland and I will help you with this, act on your behalf as your agent.


1. Full Planning Permission. (Householders development)

2. Certificate of Lawful Development. (Permitted development rights)


A Certificate of Lawful Development is mainly used where a small extension falls within permitted development rights. This type of application requires the same amount of time and drawings to prepare but it has it's limitations on what you can and cannot do, it’s restrictive. Some houses don’t however have permitted development rights, if they are listed buildings or in a conservation area for instance.


I would advise my clients to obtain either full permission or a certificate to keep you right with your neighbour's and a Solicitor will ask for formal evidence in writing should you or your family ever decide to sell your property.


Through the Planning Portal NI the Planning Service will require the following information to be uploaded onto their website and application fee paid.


  • Site Location Plan.

  • Existing and proposed plans / elevations including materials to be used.

  • Existing and proposed block plans. (Basically a site layout showing proximity to neighbour's)

  • Householders Design Statement.

  • Demolition Justification Statement. (Should an existing building require demolition)


As an example here are a couple of Planning Application drawings prepared by me on a previous project:


Planning Portal NI | Applying for Planning Permission | GT Building Design
Householders Design Statement by GT Building design
Planning Portal NI | Applying for Planning Permission | GT Building Design
Typical Planning Application Drawing showing Existing & Proposed Plans and Elevations by GT Building Design

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.


In simple terms the Planning Service will want to see the scale of the proposed extension, it's size, the position of windows / external doors, the height of the proposed building and proximity to neighbour's.


THE BUILDING CONTROL APPLICATION

After obtaining Planning Permission then the next stage is to apply for Building Control Approval through your local Council. If you are carrying out building work, it is very important that this work complies with the regulations and as a chartered professional I'm here to advise and help you with this.


Building Regulations are necessary to ensure that an acceptable standard of construction is achieved to protect the health and safety of people in and around buildings and also to regulate access to buildings and apply energy conservation regulations.


There are generally three types of Building Control applications for homeowners:

  1. Full Plans Application (Requiring full drawings, details and a specification)

  2. Building Notice (For small domestic work, generally applied for by completing a form. In certain situations structural calculations and drawings may be required)

  3. Regularisation Application (For unauthorised work completed without the submission of a Full Plans or Building Notice Application)


Contact me for advice, discuss your project and I can advise which is suitable for you.


Building Regulations apply to most ‘building work’. This requires you to make an application before proceeding with the work. Applications are required for new build, property extensions and also work of a minor nature.


Some work is exempt from making a Building Control application but will still need to comply with the Building Regulations.


The best way to check that you are doing the right thing is to contact myself or Building Control Services before starting your project. Getting professional advice from the beginning will help you avoid problems later.


Examples of work that require an application are as follows:

  • New Dwellings and Extensions

  • Roof space conversions

  • Attached Garages and Detached garages (over 30m² floor area)

  • Structural Alterations including removal of walls

  • Central heating alterations and installations (including a new boiler)

  • Window and external door installations

  • Thermal Alterations including cavity wall insulation

  • Drainage alterations

  • Mains powered smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detection / alarms

  • Changing a building’s use

  • Apartment conversion

Note: This list is not exhaustive, other works also require an application to be made.


When applying for Building Control Approval (Full Plans Application) considerable detailed drawings are required to confirm to the Council that your building works comply with current building regulations. Information such as structure, drainage, ventilation provisions, insulation properties, means of escape, dimensions, staircase compliance, smoke / heat and carbon monoxide detection etc. are all required. A full written specification will also be prepared by me and submitted together with the detailed plans, elevations and constructions details.

As an example here are a few Building Control Application drawings prepared by me on a previous project:

Building Control NI | Building Control Applications | GT Building Design
Proposed Plans for Building Control by GT Building Design
Building Control NI | Building Control Applications | GT Building Design
Proposed Elevations for Building Control by GT Building Design
Building Control NI | Building Control Applications | GT Building Design
Proposed Details for Building Control by GT Building Design

Together with the proposed plans, elevations, specification it's important that these are accurate and in full compliance with current Building Regulations.


Your builder will also provide you with a quotation from these and follow them on site when work commences to ensure that your extension is constructed to the highest quality and thermally efficient.

I trust this has explained the difference between a Planning Application and a Building Control Application. If you would like advice or wish to discuss your project please feel free to contact me or request a quotation.





  1. Request a quotation.

  2. No obligation introductory call to discuss your project. 

  3. Measured survey of your home. 

  4. Preparation of Design Proposals for approval by you.

  5. Planning Application. 

  6. Preparation of detailed construction drawings. 

  7. Building Control Application. 

  8. Selecting the right builder for your project.

  9. Support on Site.


Many thanks for reading my blog, appreciated! Glenn 😊


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