Q. I have just completed on a leasehold property situated on a very nice residential development and have plans to completely gut the place and start again, to include the removal of some non-load bearing stud walls. Given I am not removing any structural walls do you think I will still need planning consent?
A. With all building work, the owner of the property (or land) in question is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations (regardless of the need to apply for planning permission and/or building regulations approval or not).Therefore, failure to comply with the relevant rules will result in the owner being liable for any remedial action (which could go as far as demolition and/or restoration). The general advice is to always discuss your proposals with the relevant local planning authority and building control service before starting work. However, in the first instance given you have bought on a Leasehold development I would strongly advise you to reach out to the building manager or managing agents to get their advice. I know for sure as well as the local planning ofice that some leasehold developments require their own structural surveyor to be on board with any such work even if it isn’t a structural wall you are removing. They will likely ask you to provide existing plans of the property and the proposed plans too prior to making a visit to site, assess the lease and prepare a Licence to Alter Report that would be sent to the landlord and copied to yourself. To provide them with the plans you will have to hire your own structural surveyor and walk him through the project so that he can prepare the drawings and provide the Leaseholders surveyor with the information they require. By doing this you will ensure that the work remains compliant with building regulations and you will have the comfort of knowing at the end of the project the leaseholder’s surveyor will provide you with completion certificate showing that all works were approved. You will also need to get a building regulations certificate too, speak to your builder about this as they will confer with your local building control office to ensure you have all bases covered. This may all seem like a lot of time, effort and money especially when you are not removing any structural walls but believe me attempting to carry out this type of work without the correct permissions would be very unwise as when you come to sell the place you will find you may not be able to sell at all.