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Planning for Business

Businesses need to expand and change to adapt to market conditions and trends. Recent changes in planning legislation have made it easier to do this.  

Signs or adverts

You need consent for almost all hoardings, illuminated signs outside the deemed consent allowances, fascia signs and projecting signs on shop fronts or business premises which are higher than 4.6m above ground level and most advertisements on gable ends. You also need permission for signs advertising goods not sold at the premises where the sign is placed.

The Council take into account how the local residents and highway safety are affected. For example, if an advertisement would visually dominate a group of 'listed' buildings or a residential area it is more likely to be refused.

But where there are large buildings and main highways, for example in industrial or commercial areas, the local planning authority may grant consent for a large hoarding which might not look out of place.

Considerations do not usually include content, subject matter, or decency. These factors are controlled by a voluntary code of conduct supervised by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Public safety means the safety of road traffic, other modes of transport or pedestrians. The local planning authority assesses likely effects on driver behaviour and possible confusion with traffic signs or signals. The local planning authority knows that advertisements are intended to attract people's attention, so signs would not automatically be regarded as a distraction to road users. However, what really matters is whether a sign is so distracting or confusing that it creates a danger.

Do I need planning permission to change the use of a property?

Planning permission may be required to change the use of a property, even if no building works are involved. Many minor changes of use, or changes which do not affect the overall use of the property, do not require planning permission. Planning permission is not normally required when both the present and proposed uses fall within the same class as defined in the Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987. It is also in some cases possible to change uses from one class to another without making an application. 

Planning consent to change a building's use

You may need planning permission to:

  • change the way business premises are used - for example, from a warehouse to an office
  • turn all or part of a residential property into a workplace or vice versa

Changing the use of business premises

The uses of many business premises are grouped together into 'use classes'. For example, shops are classified as 'A1'. The idea is that you do not need planning permission to change from one A1 use to another A1 use.

However, you may require planning permission to switch uses between classes, unless a special right (called a 'permitted development right') to do so has been granted. Find guidance on use classes is available on the Planning Portal website.

Working from home

If you intend to work from home you will require planning permission to do so if the overall character of your house changes from the primary and predominant use as a dwelling house. Instances where this would occur include a use that attracts a marked rise in traffic or people calling, a use that involves activities unusual in a residential area or a use that could disturb your neighbours.

However, many businesses can exist invisibly within houses or in outbuildings in the garden without any formal change of use occurring in planning terms. The key test is whether the overall character of the home will change as a result of a business being conducted from the property. In short, is it still mainly a residential property?

If the answer to any of the following questions is yes, then permission will probably be needed.

Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private home?

  • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or visitors?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Whatever business you carry out from your home - perhaps using part of it as a bed-sit or for bed-and-breakfast accommodation, using a room as an office, child minding, using rooms for dressmaking or music teaching, using buildings in the garden for repairing cars or storing goods connected with a business – the key test is: is it still mainly a home or has it become a business premises?

Commercial Development

Even more so than houses, commercial properties vary in scale to a much larger degree. A small high street butcher, is in planning terms the same "Use Class" as a hypermarket.

Under new legislation that came into effect in 2010, extending or altering an industrial building or warehouse is considered to be permitted development, subject to the following:

No development to come within 5m of any boundary 

  • Development must be within the curtilage of an existing unit 
  • No extension or alteration to make building higher than 5m, if within 10m of the boundary. In all other cases any extension or alteration must not be higher than the building being extended or altered 
  • The extension or alteration must not exceed the gross floor space of original building by more than 25% or 1,000 square metres, whichever is lesser
  • Development would reduce space available for parking or turning
  • No development within a listed building
  • Any industrial building extended or altered must relate to the current use of the building, staff uses or for research and development of products or processes
  • Any warehouse extended or altered must relate to the current use of the building or the provision of staff facilities
  • No extended or altered building to provide staff facilities: Between 7pm and 6.30am, for employees other than those present at the premises of the undertaking for the purposes of their employment.

Dudley Business First 

Dudley Business First is Dudley Council’s inward investment and business support service.

The dedicated team offer tailored services to help your business including business funding support and land and property searches.

Contact Details

  • Name Planning Help Desk
  • Address Planning and Environmental Health, Directorate of the Urban Environment, 4 Ednam Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 1HL
  • Telephone 01384 814136