Altering your home?

What sort of permissions do I need to make changes to my home? Where can I find more information?

p.109 Hardstanding Driveway

There are several types of consent you may require before you can change your home. You may need one consent or several before you can start building works.

Planning Permission

Certain developments or alterations can be undertaken without the need for planning permission and this is often referred to as 'permitted development'. The Planning Portal (external website) gives advice on whether or not planning permission is needed.  For further clarification about 'permitted development' legislation, please contact the Planning Department.

Consent under the Building Regulations

Consent under the Building Regulations is required if you are carrying out any structural changes inside or outside your home.

Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Scheme

If you live in Welwyn Garden City your home may be within the Welwyn Garden City Estate Management Scheme. Most developments and alterations to the outside of your home will require consent under the scheme, including the formation of hardstandings and the removal of trees and hedges (see below).

Party Wall Act

If you are doing works close to your neighbour's boundary or property you may have to give them notice under the Party Wall Act. The council does not deal with the Party Wall Act but further information can be found on the Communities and Local Government website. If you do not know where your boundary is you can check with the Land Registry or your solicitor.

Landlords Consent (Restrictive Covenants) 

If you live in a rented home or your property is leasehold then you may require the written consent of your landlord before starting any works.

Trees and Hedges

Trees play an important part of forming the character of both the urban and rural areas of the Garden City.

Trees are protected in a conservation area, within the Welwyn Garden Estate Management Scheme or if the tree is covered by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO). Similarly, hedges within the Estate Management Scheme are protected. Again, consent is needed before you carry out works to the hedge or tree.

Tree Preservation Orders

Tree Preservation Orders prohibit the cutting down, uprooting, topping, lopping, wilful damage or wilful destruction of trees without the Local Authorities consent.

TPOs can be placed on any tree that has amenity value. Trees that are exempt from TPOs are those that are dead, dying, diseased or dangerous and fruit trees grown for the commercial production of fruit.

It is an offence to carry out works to the TPO tree without consent form the Local Authority. The maximum penalty for carrying out works to TPO trees without consent is £20,000.

If you wish to carry out works to a preserved tree you must apply to the Council using the following application form:

Works to Trees Subject to a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) and/or Notification of Proposed Works to Trees in Conservation Areas (CA)

Trees in Conservation Areas

There are also special provision for the protection of trees within Conservation Areas that are not otherwise protected by a TPO. Six weeks prior written notice is required for works to trees in a Conservation Area. The details required with an application are the same as those outlined for trees affected by a TPO.

As part of the application process a site visit will be carried out and the Council will issue a letter setting out its decision.

Removal of Trees & Hedges within the EMS

If your property is located within the Estate Management Scheme area, consent is rarely given for the complete removal of hedgerows or trees without sound justification and a replacement element of soft landscaping will nearly always be requires.

If you wish to remove a tree or hedgerow you must apply to the Council using the following application form: pdf icon Estate Management Application Form [63KB]

New Entrances

If residents wish to drive across the footway to gain access to park on their property, they are required under the Highways Act 1980 to have a vehicle crossover constructed. A vehicle crossover is where the footway is reinforced to take the weight of the vehicle and the kerb is dropped to form a ramp.

In order to ensure that vehicle crossings are properly constructed, all domestic vehicle crossings should receive approval from Hertfordshire Highways prior to the work being carried out.

Planning permission is not usually required for such work but will be if:

· the property involved has the frontage directly on to a classified road.

· the property involved is a listed building.

· the property involved is other than a house for a single family, e.g. Flat, Maisonette, Commercial or Industrial Premises.

Estate management consent will be required if your property is located within the EMS area (this will also include the formation of a hardstanding). Also, Conservation Area consent will be required if the works for a vehicle crossover include the demolition of a front wall which is more than 1 metre in height.

If you are creating a new entrance onto a road or want to 'drop the kerb' then you may need permission from Hertfordshire County Council. This may also require planning permission.

Working from your Home

Often running a business from your home does not need planning permission. The Planning Portal has more information detailing where planning permission would be needed. If you require advice from the Council as to whether operating your business from home needs planning permission, an 'Application for a Lawful Use Certificate' (found under 'Planning Application Forms') can be submitted.

Please note that there is no requirement for you to submit an application for a Lawful Use Certificate. Such applications are, however, advisable if there is any uncertainty on whether your business needs planning permission or you require confirmation for mortgage or legal purposes.

Where can I find more information?

The Planning Portal is the government's national planning information website. It contains information on what needs planning permission, the planning process and national planning policy.

The Planning Inspectorate is the independent body which considers appeals against the refusal of planning permission.

Welwyn Hatfield Information

Most of the information you need can be found on our website or by talking to the Duty Planning Officer.

A Duty Planning Officer is available Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4.30pm at the council offices in Campus East. There is no need to make an appointment. Please telephone 01707 357573 for more information.

The Duty Planning Officer can give you guidance on the planning process, whether permitted development rights apply to your home, whether your house is in a Conservation Area or is a Listed Building.

They will however not be able to confirm whether or not your proposal requires planning permission and will not be able to give you an opinion as to whether a scheme is likely/unlikely to be approved.  Please see related pages for advice on permitted development rights and the council's Pre-application Advice service.

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