Jersey: Making Changes To Your Home? Don't Fall Foul Of Planning Permission

Last Updated: 12 January 2018
Article by Jonathan Anderson

Making an application for planning permission can seem like a somewhat opaque and even daunting process. The aim of this article is to provide a brief overview of the current law and to set out some of the basics that need to be considered if you are planning to make material changes to your home, as well as to highlight some useful resources that can be called upon.

The Planning and Building (Jersey) Law 2002 together with the Planning and Building (General Development) (Jersey) Order 2011 and the Building Bye-Laws (Jersey) 2007 provide the legislative framework which regulates development in Jersey, in order to conserve, protect and improve Jersey’s natural beauty, its character, and its physical and natural environments. The planning legislation contains clear provisions as to what you can and cannot do without permission and sets out various classes of development for which planning permission is automatically granted without the need to make an application for permission. The Environment Department website has helpful practice and guidance notes, which are a good first port of call if you are considering making changes and are unsure whether a planning application is required.

The Planning and Building (General Development) (Jersey) Order 2011 is reviewed and revised from time to time and following public consultation last year, the Environment Department decided to de-regulate the planning permission for replacing roof coverings on conservatories on non-listed buildings. This however, was only in relation to planning permission and separate building bye-law consent is still required for the replacement of solid roofs to replace existing conservatory roofs. The requirement to obtain planning permission for retractable awnings to the rear of houses was also de-regulated, provided the awnings are no higher than a permitted extension or conservatory.

It is not uncommon for people to make changes to their property without realising that a planning consent and/or building permit is in fact required. Homeowners may not realise that changes to areas outside their home, such as paving, patios and raised planting areas, may require planning permission where such installations exceed 40cm in height above (or below) the existing ground level. You may need planning permission to erect a shed, greenhouse or garage where that external area is greater than 30 square metres in total or, exceeds 3 metres in total. For kitchen or bathroom installations, a planning application is generally not required, unless the property is listed or the installation creates a separate dwelling unit or flat.

There are some specific exemptions from planning requirements in relation to conservatories, including where its external area is not more than 30 square metres, where it is accessible from the interior of your house and where it is not in front of the main frontage of the property (being the elevation that faces and is not less than 20 metres from a public road). With regard to pitched conservatory roofs, they must not exceed 3.5 metres in height and the bottom of the pitch must not exceed 2.5 metres above ground level. For flat roofs, it must not exceed 2.75 metres, although if it is to be constructed within a metre of your neighbour’s property the height limitation is reduced to 2 metres. Furthermore, you still need building permission if the internal area is more than 20 square metres or if it cannot be entirely closed off from the main house.

Any application for planning permission will need to be commenced in good time. The Department for the Environment states on its website that it aims to determine 85% of applications within eight weeks for minor applications and 13 weeks for major applications. As part of the determination process the Department may carry out a site inspection and for proposals which are considered significant from a design and architectural standpoint, the application may be referred to Jersey’s Independent Architecture Commission for review which could slow the process down.

The above is intended to provide an overview of some requirements of planning law in Jersey, however the law does contain numerous special conditions which would need to be considered in detail for any given case to prevent falling foul of planning requirements. It should also be borne in mind that there are certain customary law obligations that may apply as well as contractual or title restrictions and these should all be considered by homeowners before going to the expense of carrying out the works. For those who do get it wrong, enforcement action could be taken for a period of up to eight years from the date of any breach of planning controls. For all these reasons we recommend referencing the Environment Department website or contacting the Planning and Building Control Officers and/or your legal advisor for specific advice prior to commencing any material works to your home.

First published in Homelife October 2017

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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