Understanding Planning Permission Vs Building Regulations
An Architect’s Guide


If you are about to embark on a renovation or home build project, you’ll no doubt be aware of planning permission and building regulations. However, these two terms often cause confusion.
While they both regulate construction activities, they serve different purposes and are governed by distinct sets of rules. So in this blog post, we’re going to delve into the differences between these crucial aspects of construction to help you successfully navigate the regulatory landscape.

Understanding Planning Permission

Planning permission is permission granted by local authorities for proposed developments or changes to land or buildings. It involves assessing how a proposed project fits within the local planning policies and regulations, considering factors such as the impact on the environment, infrastructure, and neighboring properties. Planning permission aims to balance the needs of development with the preservation of the natural and built environment, ensuring sustainable growth and orderly development.
Key Points of Planning Permission:

  • Land Use: Planning permission regulates the use of land and buildings, determining whether proposed developments align with zoning regulations and local development plans.
  • Visual Impact: Considerations such as the scale, design, and appearance of developments are assessed to ensure they harmonize with the surrounding landscape and built environment.
  • Environmental Impact: Planning permission evaluates the potential impact of developments on the environment, including factors such as drainage, biodiversity, and pollution.
  • Consultation: The planning process often involves consultation with the public, neighboring property owners, and other stakeholders to gather feedback and address concerns.
  • Decision Making: Local planning authorities make decisions on planning applications based on statutory guidelines, policies, and public interest considerations.

Understanding Building Regulations

Building regulations on the other hand, are a set of standards that ensure the health, safety, welfare, and energy efficiency of buildings. These regulations outline specific requirements regarding structural integrity, fire safety, accessibility, ventilation, insulation, and other essential aspects of construction. Their primary goal is to guarantee that buildings are constructed to a satisfactory standard, providing a habitable and safe environment for the people who will be living in, or using the building.
Key Points of Building Regulations:

  • Safety: Building regulations prioritise the safety of occupants and users of buildings. This includes measures to prevent structural failures, fire hazards, and accidents.
  • Structural Integrity: Requirements for structural stability ensure that buildings can withstand various loads and environmental conditions without compromising safety.
  • Energy Efficiency: With a growing emphasis on sustainability, building regulations incorporate standards for energy-efficient design and construction practices to reduce environmental impact.
  • Accessibility: Ensuring that buildings are accessible to people with disabilities is a fundamental aspect of building regulations, promoting inclusivity and equal access.
  • Compliance and Enforcement: Compliance with building regulations is mandatory, and local authorities enforce them through inspections and approvals at various stages of construction.

So what are the key differences?

While both building regulations and planning permission regulate construction activities, they serve distinct purposes:
Planning permission deals with the broader aspects of land use and development, considering the impact of proposed projects on the environment, community, and aesthetics.
Building regulations focus on the technical aspects of construction, ensuring buildings meet safety, health, and energy efficiency standards.


Understanding the difference between planning permission and building regulations is crucial for anyone about to embark on a home renovation project. While planning permission sets the stage by evaluating the suitability of proposed developments within the local context, building regulations ensure that constructed buildings meet rigorous standards for safety, health, and sustainability.

Here at Taylor and Co Architects, we have more than 30 years experience of dealing with council planning applications and building regulations, working all over the UK. We can guide you through the process of planning permission and building regulations. Get in touch to find out more and to see how we can help you to achieve your dream home.