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Planning for Start-Up or Existing Businesses

Businesses may need to expand and change to adapt to market requirements and trends, such that alterations to, or changes of use of premises may be required. If planning any changes you are always advised to check before committing to start a business, take out a lease or purchase premises.

Shop front alterations

New or changes to shop front design will require planning permission. This should take into consideration the appropriateness of design and access arrangements for all future users of the premises.

If the property to be altered is a ‘Heritage Asset’ (or is adjacent to a statutory listed building, locally listed building , a building on the Council’s Historic Environment Record or a Conservation Area) then careful consideration will need to be given to the design of the proposed alterations. Free pre-application advice is available from the Councils Development Control section.

Roller Shutters and Shop Front Security

Planning permission is required for the erection of security shutters on the outside of a shop front, whether they are new or are a replacement.

Shop fronts are critical in establishing the character and appearance of shopping frontages. Dudley Council attaches considerable importance to suitably designed shop fronts, not only to preserve the character of buildings but also to retain the overall attractiveness of streets and to maintain their commercial viability. Inappropriate developments can have a severe detrimental effect not only on the building but also the street scene and the street’s trading potential.

In recent years the need for shop front security has become increasingly important. To combat the threat of theft and vandalism, replacement shop fronts often incorporate security measures. Unfortunately, the use of certain security measures, particularly solid roller shutters, can have a detrimental impact on the appearance of buildings and the street scene generally.

As an attractive street frontage benefits trade and the local economy, it is essential that shop owners use appropriate security measures which have the minimum effect on the street scene.

External shutters which are solid or have small perforations generally allow no or limited views through to the shop front when closed. This situation is considered to create an uninviting ‘dead’ frontage rather than one that is active. When shutters are drawn down there is no interaction with the street. The roller shutter storage box is also often an unattractive and intrusive feature which makes the display of attractive signage more difficult.

The existence of similar development elsewhere is not a good reason to allow further development that causes harm. In addition to the negative visual impact of the shutter, the monotonous and unattractive frontage created by closed shutters contributes to reinforcing a fear of crime and in turn may attract graffiti, criminal activity and provide a screen behind which intruders can operate unseen.

When a shop front is being altered or replaced, a wide range of security measures can be incorporated as an alternative to roller shutters:

  • raising the sill heights of display windows to protect against ram-raiding

  • reducing the size of glass panes in display windows

  • installing laminated safety glass, providing stronger windows

  • installing lighting, camera surveillance and alarms

  • locating unobtrusive bollards or pillars on private forecourts to deter ram raiding

  • fitting an internal grille behind shop windows

The above measures are considered to be effective and a number of which do not usually require planning permission unless it affects a Listed Building.

Relevant guidance for security in shop front design is contained in the Design for Community Safety SPG

Longstanding design principles are contained in the Shop Front Design and Security – Planning Guidance Note No. 27

Signs or adverts

Some forms of adverts, for example illuminated signs, upon a new business may need advertisement consent from the Local Planning Authority. This can include consent for replacement or new signage. Signage is an effective way of advertising the presence of a new business as well as the goods sold/services offered. However there is a balance to be struck between promoting a new business and the appropriateness of signage on amenity and highway safety.

Guidance on what signage can be installed without the need for advertisement consent (Deemed Consent).

If advertisement consent (Express Consent) is required for signage the general principals of acceptable signage are:

  • Signage should be appropriately located above the shop window (fascia) of the host building.

  • Signage above or between first floor windows is rarely acceptable.

  • Projecting signs should be located within the fascia of the building.

  • Illumination should be appropriate in terms of brightness and design, large internally illuminated box signs are not usually considered appropriate.

  • If the building is considered as a “Heritage Asset” (is or is adjacent to a statutory listed building, locally listed building , a building on the Council’s Historic Environment Record or a Conservation Area) then careful consideration will need to be given to the design of the proposed signage. Free pre-application advice is available from the Councils Development Control section.

  • Signage should not ‘block out’ shop front windows with overly large characters or printed displays.

Applications for Express Consent can only be considered on the basis of ‘amenity’ and ‘public safety’. 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.

‘Amenity’ is usually understood to mean the effect upon visual amenity in the immediate neighbourhood of the advertisement.

Public safety means the safety of road traffic, other modes of transport or pedestrians. The Local Planning Authority knows that advertisements are intended to attract people's attention. What matters is whether your advertisement will be so distracting or so confusing that it creates a hazard for, or endangers, people who are taking reasonable care for their own and others’ safety.

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. 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

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. 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, such as from a newsagent to a hairdresser or butcher.

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. 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?

  • Will you employ staff that will be based at your address?

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?

Industrial or Warehouse Development

Under legislation that came into effect in 2010, through the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended) certain limited extensions or alterations to an industrial building or warehouse are considered to be permitted development, if they comply with specific conditions.

Further detail on this is available on the Planning Portal website.

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

Planning Service Assistance

The Planning Help Desk can:

  • provide free pre-application advice.

  • advise on the provision of copies of planning histories/plans and conditions.

  • contact the Duty Officer to answer planning related queries face to face or over the phone