William Sutherland



Office Address Cluan
Rydal Road
LA22 9BA

015394 34489

For location plan
see Local Links

Sadly, not the offices of the LDNPA but a 'lakelandcam' (see Links page) shot of the much photographed Yew Tree Farm (NT) on the road to Coniston from Ambleside.
so you want to build in the Park?..

start here...


Planning Applications - this page out of date

The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA) affects many aspects of life in the Park. However it is as the Planning Authority for the Park that most people come into contact with it.
For general information about the LDNPA - try the LDNPA website... with helpful explanations and documents - and online viewing of recent applications.

  • Often referred to as 'the Planning Board' or just 'the Board' by locals from it's old title of 'Lake District Special Planning Board'.
  • Based in Kendal (outside the Park.....)
  • The LDNPA is the first port of call before carrying out any work.
  • Do not assume your project is too small to require Planning consent.
  • Always check - it only takes a 'phone call - 01539 724555 - ask for the Duty Officer (this may take persistence ;-).
  • Confused about Planning Officer and Building Inspector? - see technical issues
  • Got your Planning Permission? Pause for thought here

Superseded - see current site
Sustainability is this year's hot topic and you may be surprised to find that it is also going to be important for your planning application. You may also find it difficult to pin down exactly what is meant by sustainability. Start with the LDNPA core strategy documents - policy CS16 is the one to look out for currently on new houses and non-domestic work - and the Government's fairly new National Planning Policy Framework (already shortened to its initials by most users - 'NPPF').

Other things to watch out for this year are trees on your site (new guidance posted to the LDNPA website), and try not to change the design once you have your approval because even non-material amendments require an application which takes 8 weeks. I understand that a Discharge of Conditions application is allowed 13 weeks, although planners tell me they try to be much quicker than that.

Routine annoyances are the lack of any information on the progress of a planning application until just before the date for a decision, sometimes long silences in response to formal enquiries and a general reluctance to return calls and emails. But, well, I guess they are all very busy...

Bats are now a major issue in implementing planning permissions - if your consent involved having a bat survey done read the 'mitigation' section in the bat survey report as you might need to organise bat measures months in advance of work starting.

New Permitted Development Rights for householders introduced on 1st October 2008 - see Planning Portal guides.
Note the additional restrictions within the National Park ('Designated Land') - notably, side extensions to houses, and windows - including rooflights, to side elevations may now require consent (and 'side' of a house could be open to interpretation in some cases).

The website of the Authority has got prettier but content can still be hard to locate - you can view recent planning applications online complete with drawings and forms... very handy. They still do not post written objections to applications - something to do with data protection act - whatever, it reduces the value of all that effort to put stuff online.

The planning portal set up by the government to allow online applications is quite good but can be tedious for anything other than Householder Applications.

The National Park policies have severely restricted new residential permissions and so very unlikely that barn conversions, flats or any 'open market' housing will be allowed, although it remains to be seen how this will fit with the new NPPF. Some local occupancy housing is currently (June 2014) possible but it is tricky even before you reach design issues - and remember that on larger schemes (more than 3 units) the occupants may have to obtain certification from the LDNPA that they are in housing need and thus qualify to occupy any such property.
Extensions are still OK in principle and appropriate commercial uses are still encouraged.

Planning Applications are becoming increasingly complex - you can expect routine requests for information that was unusual on small extensions a couple of years ago.. bat surveys, owl surveys, tree surveys, flood risk assessments... what used to take me 30 minutes now takes hours ;-)

Some General points to bear in mind:

    I have tried to keep this outline list as simple as possible and it is only meant as a broad guide. There are several detailed online guides around but if in doubt I usually recommend submitting a Formal Enquiry to the LDNPA although a written answer may take some time depending on the nature of the enquiry.

  • If you are thinking of alterations or extensions I suggest you talk to your neighbours and explain what you are thinking of doing. Apart from being polite it can avoid objections if you proceed with a Planning Application - and the latest application forms do ask if you have consulted the community. (There could be other issues apart from Planning - e.g. the Party Wall Act or even land ownership issues lying dormant - not uncommon!)

  • Do not even think of trying to build something without Planning permission. Even if the site is in some out of the way place, I guarantee someone will notify the Authority. We once had a mound of earth in a wooded garden notified to the Planners by walkers passing by!

  • There are some odd things that the average person may not realise require planning permission such as some garden sheds, 'gardening' if it involves earth moving machinery.... always check.

  • There is no such thing as 'just a garage' or 'only a conservatory'. These are dealt with in the same way as any extension to a property. Adverts by conservatory suppliers that suggest planning permission 'may not be required' are relying on the possibility that the volume of the extension (i.e. the conservatory) may be within permitted limits for domestic properties. The old guides of 50m3 or 10% of the volume of the property (more outside the Park) no longer apply from 1.10.2008 - try this link to Planning Portal and the technical guidance (June 2014 update guide pdf)
    BUT there can be fine points of interpretation..
    Note also that recently announced by government temporary increases in size of permitted development extensions do not apply within the National Park.
    Even if you think your extension will be within these limits you should at least have a word with the duty officer at the National Park Authority.

  • Commercial uses such as shops, guest houses, farms have no or limited (and sometimes unusual) 'PD' (permitted development) rights - i.e. any alterations require planning permission, including new rooflights. Note that Flats do not have any 'PD' rights either - and neither do most outbuildings.
  • Remember that if you live in a barn conversion it is very likely that any permitted development rights were removed in the granting of the original permission for conversion, unless very long ago. Thus any new alterations such as adding a window will often require permission.
  • Planning revolves around the 'use' of land/property. Thus a house has 'domestic' or 'residential' use and a business has, in general terms a 'commercial' use (there are detailed categories in Planning legislation). Changes in use usually require planning permission although there can be exceptions.
  • Altering an access or making a new one - for vehicles or pedestrians - from a field or garden for example on to a lane, track or road can be tricky - Check with LDNPA first and then Cumbria County Highways Dept (since the sale of much of CCC services to 'Capita' Highways seems to have been moved 'sideways' - the old telephone numbers still work - for the moment).
  • Check if your property is within a 'Conservation Area' or a 'Schedule 4' area, as tighter restrictions may apply on use or external appearance.
  • If your property is 'listed' - normally Grade II unless really special - alterations will require a Listed Building Application to the National Park Authority on special forms.
    Often this is IN ADDITION TO a Planning Application. The two are separate applications although there is now a combined form available.
    Note there are special considerations for a Grade II* (referred to as a 'Grade 2 star' listed building.
    Be VERY careful doing any work to a listed building - there is no time limit on unauthorised work and the penalties can be heavy.
    It is always worth a call to the Conservation Officer (now called Historic Building Adviser I think?)

Once you have your planning permission... what next?
Ok... you've done all the hard work - got your permission (been 'granted consent' in the jargon) - now what? Sit down ...and take time to READ the Notice of Consent (this applies to Architects as well as clients!)
In recent years the 'fine print' or 'Conditions' listed on the Notice have become very important. If you do not understand what they mean ask the Planning Authority or your Architect for an explanation in plain English. Some are routine - such as the length of time the consent is valid - others will be specific to the application. A particular wording to watch out for is anything that is described as requiring agreement in writing with, or notification to, the Planning Authority before work starts on site (or the 'consent is implemented').

Also read your bat survey - these are now normally just referred to via the Conditions on the planning consent but the date limits on when works can be carried out can be quite complex. Even if you have no bats, for now, you may be surprised to find that there are requirements to be met when carrying out the work.
I usually ask the ecological consultant to spell these out in 'plain English' for clients and often have them meet up or at least talk to the building contractor so that everyone knows where they stand.

For 'Compliance' read 'Enforcement'....
The National Park Authority have tightened up on enforcement. In the distant past there was little checking of whether a scheme had been built to the Approved drawings unless it was drawn to their attention. Now they are actively checking wherever possible. There are 'Compliance' Teams who are very polite but persistent.

The LDNPA is now sending out 'Start' notification forms with every planning consent - the idea is that you tell them when you are commencing construction to enable them to monitor compliance and so avoid potentially expensive unauthorised amendments to the design. This comes at a time of low tolerance of minor amendments - for anything apart from moving the odd window or door they normally request a complete reapplication - and so I suspect that people will take some persuading to notify - but it is a worthwhile initiative and makes sense in the current planning climate.

The answer if you want to make changes is to discuss it with the original case officer, if still available, and agree a course of action. The LNDPA have tried various systems over the years to deal with amendments but the government seems to have got involved and there is now an application form and potentially a long wait although planning officers do their best to keep on top of these as work is frequently held up on site pending a decision.

Where next?
Normally a Building Regulations application - see Technical Issues

Useful Links...

UK Government Planning Portal quite a good resource set up by the Government to enable online planning applications.

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