Schools – Know Your Planning Rights

Schools – Know Your Planning Rights

Over recent months we have seen an increase in school expansions and refurbishments to cope with the expanding population and building of new houses.

Ordinarily, when you want to carry out work on your school which is classed as Development you need planning permission. But you also have what are referred to as Permitted Development Rights. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, grants schools rights to carry out certain types of work without seeking permission from the Local Planning Authority. Knowing these rights can be very useful as it can avoid lengthy and costly planning processes.

Within Class M of The Town and Country Planning Order 2015, schools have the right to undertake some works without submitting a formal planning application to their local council. These rights can vary if your school is within a conservation area, is a listed property or in the curtilage of a listed building.

New And Extended Buildings

Development that is generally permitted and doesn’t require a formal planning application is:

  • Extensions and new buildings If the gross floor space is less than 25% of the gross floor space of the existing school or 100m² in total.
  • And, should be more than 5m of the boundary.
  • And, as a result of the development, any land used as a playing field at any time in the 5 years before the development commenced is not affected or built upon.
  • And, the height of any new building is less than 5m.
  • And, for altered or extended buildings;
    • If the development is within 10m of the boundary, the height of the building extended or altered should not exceed 5m.
    • In other cases further than 10m from the boundary no higher than the existing building being extended or altered.
  • And, generally, the development is not within the curtilage of a listed building.

There are a number of other conditions which would need complying with, such as materials matching the existing buildings. We’re able to advise in more detail and assess each scheme on its own circumstances.

Hard Surfaces and Fencing For Schools, Colleges and Universities

Within Class N of The Town and Country Planning Order 2015, it also allows for some hard surfacing to fall under your permitted development rights if; the area falls within the existing curtilage of the school or if it is the replacement in whole or in part of such a surface, although there are some strict rules to fall within to ensure you comply, development is therefore not allowed under permitted development rights if;

  • The cumulative area of ground covered by a hard surface within the curtilage of the site (other than hard surfaces already existing on 6th April 2010) would exceed 50 square metres;
  • As a result of the development, any land used as a playing field at any time in the 5 years before the development commenced and remaining in this use could no longer be so used; or
  • The development would be within the curtilage of a listed building.

It is also worth noting that these rights have additional conditions in relation to being porous and nonporous surfaces and if applicable, the existing drainage system on the site which can affect your rights, we would assess this on your behalf and guide you where required.

Any alterations or new fencing and boundaries are time-sensitive due to the bird nesting season limiting the disturbance to habitats. You shouldn’t be pruning or disturb hedges between March to August. This is worth keeping in mind as it could potentially set a project back.

All developments including external alterations should be reviewed on a case by case basis. This guidance is generic and we always recommend speaking to a professional prior to carrying out any work.

If you’re thinking of undertaking any works within a school curtilage please get in contact, we would be happy to review your options.