Business Planning Guidance

A guide to planning requirements for businesses, common application types and how to get further information and advice.

As a business, you may require specific permission when it comes to planning which differs from residential properties. Whilst certain forms of development are 'permitted' for different types of business, planning permission is often required to extend or erect buildings or to change the use of buildings or land.  Similarly consent is sometimes required for the installation of plant or machinery, advertisements and ventilation/extraction units.

What is Development?

The Town and Country Planning Act 1990 defines "development" as:-

"the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of a material change in the use of buildings or other land".

The basis of the system is that all development requires planning permission, unless it is specifically exempt through one of the relevant provisions of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO).

Is Planning Permission Required?

Parliament decided that the planning system should not be bogged down in considering minor developments which have very little environmental impact.  Accordingly, it has granted "permitted development rights" to a wide range of development.

The legislation is separated into different categories of business use, setting out the permitted development rights for each category, such as Changes of Use, Agricultural Buildings & Operations, Industrial & Warehouse, Schools, Colleges, Universities & Hospitals, CCTV, Office Buildings, Shops or Catering, Financial or Professional Services Establishments.

The legislation covering permitted development rights for businesses is extremely detailed and complex and subject to changes, therefore it is not possible to give general advice here, on all the different categories.  You are advised to contact us with details of your proposed development for pre-application advice and information.

Minor works, for which planning permission is generally not required, include:

  • internal building works
  • small alterations to the outside
  • telephone/internet connections
  • power/water service connections
  • alarm boxes

Minor operations such as:

  • Walls and fences below a certain height
  • Means of access, where it is not onto a trunk or classified road
  • Painting of a building, providing it is not for the purpose of advertising

These operations are generally permitted development, subject to the restrictions for each class and have a general consent across different categories of development type.  These permitted development rights do not extend to listed buildings or buildings or land where these rights have been removed.

Pre-Application Advice

We advise that you get pre-application advice from a Planning Officer to establish whether or not planning permission is required. Please note Pre-application fees apply for this service.

The decision can depend not only on the type, size or use of the development, but also its siting, previous planning history and whether it is affected by statutory designations such as a Conservation Area or the South Downs National Park.

We can advise whether a planning application is required and if so, whether it complies with planning policy and the likely recommendation for an application.  If we advise you that a proposal is likely to be refused we can offer advice on amendments to improve the proposal to achieve a satisfactory development.

Please download and complete the enquiry forms below, for further advice on the requirement for a planning application.

How to Apply

As the Local Planning Authority for the Lewes District you must apply to us for planning permission.  For development within the South Downs National Park the majority of planning application decisions will be delegated to us for determination. 

Find out more on the Planning Application Process.

Other Permissions and Licences

Additional permission/licences may be required for businesses, which are not covered or regulated by the planning system.  You may have to register for a separate licence or apply for permission from another department or organisation.

Many of these are maintained by our Environmental Health department who grant and issue licences within the district.

In addition there may be other requirements, such as private covenants, legal requirements, party wall agreements, highways requirements etc. 

Find out further information on other permissions you may require.

Common Business Applications

Planning Portal have put together a list of common applications required by business, with helpful information to guide you through the process.