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How to Apply for a Basement Conversion

If you’re thinking about having a basement conversion, you’ll want to read this detailed guide about planning permission. Having done many a conversion ourselves, we’ve decided to answer your most frequent questions. First of all, it’s important to understand that not all basement conversions require planning permission. We discuss the different types of conversions and when an application might be necessary. We also look at the step by step process to see what the planning process involves, while explaining more about the basement impact statement and what that entails. If you want to know more about conversions, or think a conversion could be a spatial solution for your property get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to advise.

Do I need planning permission for a basement conversion?

This depends on the type of basement conversion you are planning on, and whereabouts you live. If you have a current cellar or basement and you want to alter the space, providing you are not extending then you shouldn’t need planning permission. If you wanted to extend it or alter the physical appearance of your house, perhaps to add more natural light into the space, then you would need planning permission. Likewise, if you didn’t have an existing basement or the space wasn’t large enough, and your desired plans involved excavation and construction, you would indeed need planning permission.

How to apply for planning permission?

Before you start any work, you must contact your local authority and apply for the required permissions. You will need to pay a fee for a planning application. The current cost, in England, to submit an application is £172. You can go through the planning permission by yourself, and consult the local authorities or a builder if need be, but normally when you employ a basement specialist, they will undertake the full process. They will work with you on the designs and apply for permission on your behalf. This saves you a lot of time and hassle, but you also get the benefit of their insider knowledge.

What are basement impact statements/assessment?

Following a basement impact assessment, you need to put together a general statement as part of your application for planning permission. This is called a basement impact statement and will include information about the impact of the work on groundwater, surface water and structural stability. Requirements for the statement do differ on a local authority basis so be sure to check what is required when completing your application. Normally, authorities are particularly interested in the how the proposed conversion will affect land stability, and whether this could have an impact on other properties surrounding; they are interested in whether your proposal will impact the flow of groundwater; and they are also concerned about the drainage of surface water to avoid flooding. They may also want to know about construction sequence and methods. When you start your planning application, consult the local authorities from the off. Your builders should be able to handle planning permission on your behalf, or assist you with the application. If they’re local and experienced in basement conversions they should have sound knowledge of the regulations.

The Planning Process

  1. Start off by talking to a specialist to see how viable your conversion ideas are. You can talk to your local authorities and ask for some pre-application advice, but your basement specialists would be the best people to talk to. They will have done plenty of projects before, they will have expert knowledge of the permissions needed, and they can talk you through some design ideas. Your local authority might advise that your desired basement plans won’t receive permission, but a specialist can use their knowledge to adapt the designs to create something permissible that still fits in with what you want. Normally when applying for planning permission, it is the role of the construction representative or the house owner. You decide who you would like to go through the planning process, but the construction companies are used to sorting everything and them dealing with it saves you time and hassle.
  2. Pay the fee for the application. Before you can apply and sort out the paperwork, you will need to pay the fee required.
  3. Put together what the local authorities want to see. You will need to compile detailed reports about the building structure, the plans and the impact of the work. Specialist knowledge is required so you may want to seek an expert for advice, if you’ve chosen to undertake the application process by yourself.
  4. Once everything is seemingly done at your end, submit the application and await confirmation from the authorities. They should acknowledge your application, so you know they have received all the relevant paperwork and costs.
  5. Councils can take up to eight weeks to respond so sit back and be patient while you wait for their approval. Anyone affected by the proposed works will be informed and they can take issue with the application during this time. This can hold up your application but generally most decisions are made within the eight-week period.
  6. If you get the approval you want, check the council’s comments and conditions. If all is as hoped, then you can start work on your basement conversion.