Buying a House With No Planning Permission

Is it a problem to buy a rural bungalow that has no planning permission? Would there be any problems with living in that house?

I understand that banks wont lend against the house, but this would be a cash purchase.

Probably depends on how flagrant the abuse of process is?
In most cases you can get retrospective permission, as far as I understand. But if there’s a specific reason for not building in the location of the house, you might be obliged to knock it down.

Jesus I wouldn’t touch it!

I wouldn’t. Im sure there are plenty of rural bungalows for sale with planning.

The property was built in the 1980s. Surely the council would not order the demolition of something after so many years?

If you really want it then you should insist that permission is in place before you purchase. Our family home had a few minor changes over the years and when my mother sold it to a brother I put together a set of drawings and applied for retention as they needed it for the bank. I know the bank isn’t involved in this case but it’s something to have if ever selling on and you shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the planning process. Also you need to establish that the septic tank, ground water arrangements etc. are all kosher

No, they can’t make you knock it at this stage. But you could never make any changes (no extensions etc.) without opening up the possibility of having the book thrown at you. I wouldn’t even consider it unless I was getting a very substantial discount, the house was going to meet my current needs and all potential future needs as is, and I was happy to never be able to sell it on.

This is the correct answer. Unauthorised development that is regularised by statute of limitiation is still considered ‘unlawful but immune’ in legal parlance. You couldn’t as much as widen a driveway pillar in good conscience and would have to sell on to another cash-rich risk taker if you ever moved. Don’t touch it as it stands- if you’re a cash buyer it should be possible to figure out a way of funding the consultants costs involving a retention application between the seller and yourself, unless of course it has already been refused retention.

There’s plenty of High Court case law and articles related to unauthorised devlopment online if you care to google for them- You could also seek the opinion of counsel who specialise in Planning Law via contact details on the law library website- it’s not really the local solicitor’s office field of expertise imo.

Thanks for that info tommyt.

I doubt the seller would fund a retention application. Instead, I would be looking for a steep discount of around 40%.

I spoke to our local planning officer about the same thing. Basically if its been there for 7 years then you can’t be asked to remove and you will just need to apply for retention. Apparently they have only once asked for something to be taken down in the last 15 years and that was for very specific reasons. This particular council covers a huge area.

You might have better luck getting the retention application paid (2k) than a 40% discount!

Ya, correct, unlawful but immune from prosecution. Unlike in the UK, unauthorised development does not eventually become lawful, it just sits in limbo, unless you can get retention planning permission.

Would be very wary of such a purchase, even with a steep discount.

If there were no fundamental problems with the property in terms of planning, the vendor would mostly likely have applied and been granted retention planning permission. There may be a history of refusals of planning permission on the site (check planning register in local authority for this) or the owner may have been advised informally that it would never be granted. Fundamental problems for rural houses are most often entrances off the road that are unsafe and ground conditions unsuitable for septic tanks. I would not be happy to live with either, especially if your water source is a borehole…you could literally end up drinking water flavoured with your neighbour’s excrement, depending on how and where your borehole was sunk or having a serious car accident exiting the house. Even if there were no fundamental problems with the property, it’s considered de novo, so you would have to qualify under their local need criteria - assuming it’s a one-off house on unzoned lands.

Without planning permission, you will not benefit from the usual householder exemptions… such as small rear extensions/conservatories, small porches etc. If habitation of the house is causing pollution, you can be prosecuted under environmental legislation by the local authority.

If you’re still interested, best to make a “free” pre-planning appointment with the local authority to discuss options in the first instance rather than engage lawyers.

Thanks for that info TheRed.

Would anyone try to stop me from living in the house, if I bought it?

From experience, people who dont apply for planning usually take many other short cuts
The cute hoor mentality

Id image you would need to get a very detailed structural survey
Also a survey of the septic tank, well etc

Depending on where it is built and its built over 7 years I believe you can go for Retention.
One thing I would wonder is has it got an independent Electric Supply. Because you need a planning address to get connected. But you did say it was built in the 80s,a couple of 50 notes would sort that out back then.