Planning FAQs

These are the most commonly asked questions about our planning services.

General questions

How can I check if I need planning permission?

Planning permission is required for most developments that involve the construction, demolition, or other alteration to the appearance of the use of a building. Permission is usually not required for internal works, or for external works which do not cause any noticeable impact on the appearance of a building (for example, repair works that use similar materials). You can use our free 'Find out if you need planning permission' service for more details on when you need planning permission.

Are planning and building control the same thing?

No. Planning is used to control development and mainly concerns the development, use, appearance and impact of buildings and the use of land. Building control is used to ensure that building work complies with building regulations, to protect people's safety, health and welfare. Not all developments require both, and you need to submit separate applications. 

Where can I get help understanding planning terms?

Read our glossary of planning terms

Where can I see planning applications in Southwark?

You can view all applications on the Planning Register and Southwark Maps

Do I need to submit a planning application if I'm not making any physical changes to a building?

Maybe. You might need planning permission for changes of use of a building or site even if no physical works are taking place. 

What are 'use classes'?

Buildings can be used for different purposes, for example, residential or business use. These purposes are grouped into 'use classes'. You usually need planning permission to change how you use a property. See the Planning Portal guidance on use classes.

What is permitted development?

Some works do not require planning permission. These 'permitted development' works are described in the General Permitted Development Order and the government's permitted development rights guidance for householders. See the Planning Portal guidance on permitted development.

Page last updated: 15 December 2022

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