Planning permission traps Part 1 – trees, wildlife, and conservation areas

While you may own the land, unfortunately you are not free to do whatever you like on it. In fact, there is a very lengthy document that outlines exactly what rules must be adhered to while planning to build on your land. This document is called the National Planning Policy Framework and a downloadable .pdf of the document can be found by clicking here [note: this link will take you to an official webpage]. To download the document right click on it with your mouse and choose Save as… in the list. I will summaries this document for easy consumption at a later date.

If you want to be informed about this and other new content on this website click here and join our email list.

There are several hidden obstacles when it comes to planning permission, and these will be split into two separate articles here on Build Your Own House UK. Part 1 will look at Tree Preservation Orders (TPO), Conservation Areas, and the impact of Wildlife, while Part 2 will look into Visibility Splays, Listed Buildings, Archaeology, and the influence of Local Design and Materials.

Tree Preservation Orders

You can understand if an ancient tree that has seen untold historical activities has some kind of protection placed on it. Of course this tree is more important than a new house. However, what is a little less understandable is that Tree Preservation Orders (aka TPOs) are placed on small and relatively new trees with girths of just 7.5cm. What is written next should be taken notice of, because it could save you immeasurable amounts of heartache in the future. Do not enquire directly if specific trees on your plot of land are covered by TPOs, because chances are that if they are not then the government will place a TPO on them before you can say “thanks for letting me know”.

You are in a bit of a catch 22 situation; you can’t just chop trees down in case they are protected, and if you enquire about specific trees new TPOs may be placed on them straight away. There is a potential lifesaving solution here, and this is what you should do. Ask your local council if you can look at the TPO register for your specific area. This is perfectly above board because TPOs are public records, and this even means you do not have to tell anyone why you want to look at them. If the trees on your plot are not protected, make sure you keep very quiet and go ahead and cut them down. This could save you a lot of problems.

Local Wildlife

We all love wildlife and like to see birds in our back gardens. However, there are some groups of animals that you do not want to see if you are seeking planning permission, and to be honest, these are animals that most people are not normally particularly fond of. The 3 main animals you want to avoid are newts, slow worms, and bats because these are all protected and thus fall under strict protection legislation. If, for example you have bats you may be asked to install special bat-boxes for them, or if you have newts you may have to construct special protection structures. To make matters worse is that there actually does not always need to be direct sightings of these protected animals, and even if there is just a suspicion that they live on your land you will be hit with certain delays, and possibly expensive costs to ensure their habitat and safety is not jeopardised.

Conservation Areas

Conservation areas are sensitive regions of the country that are deemed important, and as such fall under a lot of red tape for those looking to develop properties and land. As a rule conservation area are historic or old regions of the country, or areas of particular national beauty, such as green areas within towns and cities. Should your development plot lie within one of these conservation zones you will almost certainly have a more difficult time of things.

You should be aware that you are buying in a conservation area, whether it be your legal advisors, or the fact the vendor makes it clear, usually because it is a good excuse for them to increase prices because people want to live in such areas. Generally, within conservation areas things are tied up in more red tape than in other areas of the country. Issues such as felling trees or knocking down walls will all be painstaking bureaucratic tasks that will take 10 times more effort than it should. This is the price you will have to pay to live in desirable regions of the country.

This concludes Part 1 of the Planning Permission Traps. You can carry and and read Part 2 here. Part 2 covers Visibility Splays, Listed Buildings, Archaeology, and the influence of Local Design and Materials.

*Great new content is being add to this website all of the time. Click here to get email updates as soon as there is something new on the website.