The aim of the planning system is to protect amenity and the environment in the interests of the general public. Within the framework of legislation approved by Parliament, councils should try to ensure that development is allowed where required, whilst ensuring that the character and amenity of the area are not adversely affected by new buildings or alterations to the use of existing buildings or land.
The current situation means that major works need planning permission from the council - minor works do not. Councils can use planning controls to protect the character and amenity of their area, whilst individuals have a reasonable amount of freedom to change their property.
Parliament has given the main responsibility for planning to local planning authorities. If you have any queries about a particular case, the first thing to do is ask your local council planning department. Your local library may also be able to provide you with more information regarding planning law.
If you are concerned about any legal issue involving planning, you may need to get professional advice or ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Use the links under "Planning System" on the left to find out more about the planning system.