Planning enquiries explained by Coventry Solicitor

When carrying out Conveyancing for house-buyers, Coventry Conveyancing Solicitors will always check the planning situation for any property. Most buyers would assume that this was unnecessary for older houses, especially if they were built before 1947 when modern town planning legislation came into existence. Even if the house was built more recently, buyers could reasonably expect that the builder had obtained planning permission to build the house in the first place, as otherwise the Council would have taken enforcement action.

It's true that it would be very unlikely to find a property in Coventry that did not have planning permission for its original construction if built after 1947. However, it is now commonplace for owners to extend their houses, sometimes quite substantially, and property lawyer s in Coventry will need to check if any such extension has been added. Although some extensions can be added to houses without requiring planning permission, the rules are quite complicated. Also if a house has already been extended, then further extensions may exceed the permitted allowance and need permission.

What about indemnity insurance?

If there is any doubt as to whether permission should have been obtained, the buyer’s Conveyancing Solicitor may ask for the seller to pay for an indemnity insurance policy, which would indemnify the buyers (and their mortgage lenders) against any loss if Coventry City Council's planning department at Civic Centre 4, Much Park Street, Coventry, CV1 2PY, took enforcement action.

Don't extensions need planning permission?

One problem area for homebuyers is that while owners can usually carry out extensions and other minor works without specific planning permission, local authorities such as Coventry City Council can include planning conditions on new houses which will exclude this right of permitted development. Councils can also make declarations that this right will be excluded in certain areas, especially if the house is in one of Coventry’s conservation areas. If this is the case, home owners will require planning consent for works which would affect the look of the exterior of the house, including installing replacement windows or putting up a satellite dish.

Conveyancing Solicitors will find out from the local search with Coventry City Council if these rights of permitted development are excluded, and will check whether the seller has carried out any alterations which would have required consent. They will also advise buyers of the implications in case buyers intend to do anything after completion for which consent should be obtained.

Are these all necessary?

Buyers may sometimes think that Solicitors are perhaps trying to justify their existence (and the amount they charge) by making too many unnecessary searches and enquiries, but they do have experience of the problems which can arise when things go wrong. Planning is a complicated area of law, and local authorities have wide powers of enforcement. It is rare that this will become a problem for buyers, but that is to some extent because their Conveyancing Solicitor will have made sure that everything is in order before completing the purchase.

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Because buyers' Conveyancing Solicitors will ask for copies of any planning consents granted within the last ten years or so, and it can take some time for a copy to be obtained, if you are selling a recently-built house in Coventry, or have carried out any work to your house, it will pay to check that everything is in order before you have found a buyer. If you have obtained planning permission then let your Solicitor have a copy. The Solicitor who acted when you bought the property may have copies of previous planning consents on file, and it will save time if these can be obtained.

If you are unsure whether consent should have been obtained for some works, you should be wary of approaching the Council, which could cause problems should it later turn out that an indemnity policy is required. You should instead discuss things with your Conveyancing Solicitor in Coventry who will be able to advise on the best course of action.

For more information, speak to a member of our team on 0330 660 0286, or get a Coventry Conveyancing Quote online.