Commercial Extensions, Alterations and Minor Works


Below is a brief, informal guide to various common types of commercial extensions, alterations and minor works. We hope our guide will be helpful in giving you some insights into what types of development options are available, and what kind of planning issues that you can expect with each one. After reading and considering your options, why not give us a call? We would be delighted to discuss your proposal for free, possible problems and ways to make the most of your property (click HERE for more information on this).


Commercial Extensions and Alterations




Commercial extensions can be a great way to gain more floor space, and in many circumstances are a viable option in planning terms. An alternative means of gaining more floor space can be to add new floors. This can work well in particular with post-war office buildings, or buildings within industrial areas. Other commercial alterations are worth considering also, such as replacement shopfronts, front awnings, seating areas and Automatic Telling Machines (ATM's), depending on how you wish to develop your business.


Whilst such proposals seem simple and small compared with large new-build schemes, in planning terms they can be surprisingly contentious and complex. As part of our service, we will consider in detail each potential planning issue, and design and manage your proposal in such a way as to maximise the chances of the application being granted within a swift time-frame, so you can spend more time on developing your property, and not worrying about the idiosyncracies of the planning system.


Rear Extensions


Many business premises have potential for rear extensions, in particular where they are in commercial parades. Typically in such arrangements there may be residential units on upper floors, but at ground floor issues of unneighbourly development are normally less. As such parades are normally obscured from public view at the back, and have poor aesthetics, design quality requirements for such extensions are normally less. Given this, larger extensions than would be possible in residential areas are often possible. Important exceptions to this are where the business premises is within a Conservation Area, or close to trees of amenity value.


New Shopfronts, Awnings, Seating Areas and ATM's


There's a number of factors to consider when proposing alterations to the front elevation at street level. Design quality needs to be high, and can be very exacting, in particular if the property is a listed building, and/or within a Conservation Area. Pedestrian safety should be considered also, especially where a proposal would occupy part of the pavement. In the case of ATM's, the likelihood of crime should be considered also. Seating areas that are close to residential buildings need to be carefully designed so as to prevent overlooking, and with suitable noise mitigations being put in place.


Additional Floors


Additional floors as a development option will not be suitable for all business premises. By definition, the addition of new floors to a building will have a significant impact on the character and appearance of the area. However, it can be possible with post-war office buildings, where a continuation of form upwards can be in keeping, or with buildings within industrial areas, where scale, bulk and design quality are of less concern, or where the character and appearance of the area is mixed. It is also wise to consider impacts on neighbours, such as from overlooking and loss of light. Notwithstanding this, the planning benefits of additional floor space can help justify such schemes. As part of our service, we would put together a fully policy referenced planning statement arguing the economic benefits of such developments.


Minor Works



The "minor works" referred to below are equally appropriate to either residential and commercial contexts. It should be noted that whilst some of these types of development can be achieved under permitted development, it is normally possible to achieve more than is set within permitted development limitations by applying for planning permission. This is where we can help you achieve more than is normally considered to be the limit, and within a quick timeframe, by applying our experience and knowledge.


Hard Surfacing, Driveways, Vehicle Parking and Vehicle Crossovers


Increasing vehicular accessibility, whether it be for additional parking, a lack of on-street parking in the area or because you have mobility problems, can be a great asset for any property. Unsurprisingly, such proposals will be considered primarily on their transport impacts, in terms of highway safety, congestion and parking availability. Other issues that can come up are impacts on trees of amenity value (in particular street trees) and floodrisk impacts.


Fences, Walls, Gates and other Boundary Treatments/Means of Enclosure


Do you need to improve security at your property? Or maybe you are seeking prestigious automatic vehicular gates with an ornate front wall and railings? Getting the right boundary treatment can be a good way to improve privacy and security, whilst making an impressive statement to visitors. Such developments can have a significant impact on the character and appearance of the area however, so getting planning permission can be challenging. Here at Vitality Planning and Design, we are familiar with what are the maximum heights that are allowed for these, and can help you get boundary treatments that will be the envy of your neighbours.


New CCTV systems 


Another important security consideration is the deterrant and surveillance benefits of a complete CCTV system. Modern CCTV systems are less bulky and visually obtrusive than they used to be, but the cameras often still need to be in relatively visually prominent locations in order to maximise their deterrant and surveillance benefits. Here an issue of cumulative impact needs to be considered, as well as how publicly visible they are, and what impact they may have on heritage assets.


Other Minor Works


We are also able to offer planning consultancy for:


- Re-cladding of buildings (such as with render, timber, metal, etc) - This can help give a tired looking building a fresh new look, but can be controversial if insensitive materials and design is chosen. Consideration of good quality, suitable materials, amount of coverage and the contrasts between the materials is essential here.
 - Insertion/removal of windows and/or doors – Whilst modest in scale, such developments can have negative impact on neighbours through loss of privacy. It should be noted that such works normally require permission if it is to a block of flats, including replacement windows/doors.
- the installation of satellite dishes and other types of Telecommunications Equipment – This can range from a simple addition of a satellite dish to telecommunications masts with associated radio equipment housing cabinets. Rarely are such developments attractive, but they can be carefully designed and located so as to reduce their visual impact. That they are essential infrastructure also is an important planning consideration when putting forward the case for their acceptability.

Please contact us if these types of developments are of interest to you.

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