How To Get Planning Permission For A Steel Building

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Do I need planning permission for a steel industrial buildings?

Generally, you'll likely need to get planning permission if you:

- Build something new
- Change the use of your building
- Make a major change to it, such as adding an extension

So if you're thinking about any kind of industrial or commercial building, our opinion is that, as a starting point, it's best to presume that you do need planning permission. Otherwise, you run the risk of putting up/extending/changing the use of a building that you may have to alter later or maybe even tear down – with all the additional stress, time and cost that involves.

How do I apply for planning permission for a steel building?

You have to apply to the relevant local authority using the correct form. (There is a charge for seeking planning permission.) You can apply directly online on the Planning Portal.

For assistance in applying for planning permission, you can engage our planning consultants at Saxby Hatfield where we specialise in obtaining planning permission for all types of steel buildings. We can help in a number of ways, whether you are simply looking for some elevation drawings to go with your planning application or looking for our full planning application service which includes, drawings, design and access statement and liaising and meeting with planning officers.

I've heard that steel buildings are classed as 'permitted developments' and don't need planning permission?

It is the case that 'permitted development' may be allowed on industrial buildings and warehouse extensions up to a certain size – usually up to 200 sq m, but other height and boundary conditions can apply.

Furthermore, most steel agricultural buildings do go through on permitted development (see Q9 for more about this).

However, even if your extension falls under this category, you should still seek prior notification to make sure your interpretation is correct and that there are no issues later on. In fact, we would always recommend this as good practice.

Tip - If you want to work with us at Saxby Hatfield, we suggest you get in touch at an early stage in your project so we can help you formulate the design, as that needs to be considered before you can seek planning permission. We can then instigate and oversee the whole planning permission process on your behalf at reasonable price.

What happens if I don't obtain planning permission for a steel building when I should have done?

If you erect, extend or change the use of a building without getting planning permission first – and you're then told you should have had it, there are several possibilities, including:

- The local authority may suggest changes that would make it a permitted development
- In the worst-case scenario, you may be served an enforcement notice, ordering you to undo all the changes you've done. (You can appeal against this.)

Just to reiterate that we always recommend you seek planning permission for your steel building. It's far better to have peace of mind than to run the risk of a lot of time and potential stress, not to mention the expense of possibly having to take the building down.

What are some of the key points to consider with planning permission for a steel building?

There's quite a lot to consider – it isn't just a case of submitting drawings.

For example, you have to cover what you're going to do with storm water, how the foul drainage will work, plus other issues. You should make sure you've got the right scale of plans too.

You'll also require a design and access statement. This is quite an in-depth document. Some of the areas it covers include showing why you've come up with the design, and that it's proportional and appropriate to the need. It also has to include colours and materials, and more.

Our planning consultants have been designing steel buildings for many years and know the questions to ask you to ensure your application is as thorough as possible. We will always look to offer the best and most cost-effective solution for you.

How do you know you've got planning permission for a steel building?

Once planning permission's been granted, you'll receive a letter confirming it. There could be some conditions. Some of the common ones we see:

- Local authority wanting to approve colours or materials
- Requesting that you carry out certain surveys or assessments
- Advising that building regulations will be required
- Or that you need to carry out some planting

Usually, there'll be a timescale within which you must start any of this. If there are some conditions that you can't meet or want to do differently (for example colours or materials), you can apply to have certain conditions removed – although there's no guarantee that will happen.

I've heard that smaller steel buildings can be classed as temporary structures?

We've heard people say that too – but it isn't usually the case! People do say to us that they've been told they don't need planning permission for a smaller building, such as a field shelters or domestic workshops, because it can be classed as a temporary structure but, in our experience, the local authorities don't tend to see it that way. You usually still need planning permission.

Are there any 'temporary structures'? Yes – there's one temporary structure rule that applies on a farm. However, the structure has to be towable and shouldn't be kept in one place for longer than two weeks. This doesn't suit the type of steel buildings we supply, which are designed to last and require permanent footings.

I run a farm. Are the rules different for steel agricultural buildings?

A whole raft of different criteria apply here and most agricultural buildings will go through on permitted development. However, you still can't erect, extend or change the structure or use of a building without telling the local authority. The process you go through is like a 'slimline' version of planning permission. They'll come back to you within 28 days to tell you if your building is a permitted development. There are limits on size and some criteria that would mean 'permitted development' didn't apply, including livestock buildings in certain circumstances. Our advice would always be to check first.

How can Saxby Hatfield help us to seek planning permission?

We'll have an initial consultation with you to get all the information and develop the design plans at the location of your site. We'll fill in the application form for you and complete the design and access statement in consultation with you. Our steel building planning consultants understand what planners are looking for and how to present that clearly. We'll then submit it to the relevant local authority. When it goes into their system, you'll be able to check its progress online. It can take up to 13 weeks. We will liaise with the council on your behalf as your agents and can guide you through the process.

Not sure where to start, feel daunted by it or simply haven't got the time? Just get in touch and leave it in the capable hands of our steel building planning experts.

Please note: this information relates to planning permission in England. For information about Wales or Scotland, please get in touch with our experts or visit This information is for guidance only and you should seek more in-depth advice before proceeding.

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