Planning guidance for businesses


Business Support Services

We offer paid for and free Planning and Building Control services that can help in:

  • starting up your business
  • growing your business
  • having the right premises for your business. 

Our planners and building control officers offer expertise and professional advice in all aspects of the built environment in Cornwall.

Whether you are looking to build, convert or extend, we can help you get it right first time, saving you money and time. These services include:

  • helping you to understand and apply the relevant legislation
  • our knowledge of the nature and challenges in Cornwall
  • convenient points of contact
  • proven and up to date expertise in Planning and Building Control
  • free signposting service
  • chargeable support and advice packages on a cost only basis (we do not make a profit from these services). 

Premises advice

We can guide you through the planning and building regulations requirements.  This will help your business grow and improve your premises.

Most works to the outside of a place of business need planning consent. You can check using this link: Do I need planning consent and building regulations? If you do need permission, you can seek pre-application advice

Farmers can carry out certain works without the need for planning permission. More information can be found in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015.

Building Control Consultancy

Esconsult offers a range of professional consultancy services including:

  • a complete range of structural and new home warranties for both residential and commercial projects
  • training events for local planning and building control agents.

Pre-application advice

Planning officers provide pre-application advice which shows how we will determine any future planning application.  Any required changes will give your scheme the best chance of being granted a planning permission. The benefits of pre-application advice are:

  • Getting advice before you make an application can save you time and money.
  • You will normally get a quicker decision once you submit your application.
  • There are likely to be fewer conditions attached to any permission.

Seeking our advice, and following it, does not guarantee that planning permission will be granted. Sometimes other factors, particularly concerning the impact on neighbouring properties, can result in additional issues. It will mean that you have the best possible opportunity to negotiate a positive outcome.

Our pledge to you

We have made a commitment to help businesses succeed.  We will provide specialist and tailored advice for your business needs.

Working with the Better Business for All Partnership (BBFA), we will:

  • help you get it right first time
  • work with you to help your business comply with regulations
  • help reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.

When we work with your business this means that we will:

  • gain an understanding of your business and agree a solution that:
    • is best for you and
    • also protects what is special about Cornwall
  • help you achieve Planning and Building Control compliance in the most cost-effective way
  • agree timescales, expectations and preferred methods of communication at the outset with you
  • explain our reasoning.

Our fees and charges guide gives you the opportunity to purchase the services you need with complete clarity.

Applying for planning permission

Other guidance for businesses

You may need more space to work from home.  If you are considering:

  • an annexe, the Council’s Annexe Guidance Note contains information on residential annexes.
  • a home office, you may not need planning permission to use:
    • a room in your house or
    • an outbuilding in your garden as a home office. 

This is as long as the primary purpose of the dwelling and its garden area remains residential.  For example, you may not need planning permission if you:

  • work on a computer or
  • use hairdressing equipment in a dining room or a garden shed and
  • clients attend one at a time and by appointment only.

Please have a look at Do I need planning consent or building regulations? for more information and a link to the Government’s Planning Portal.  You can also check if a planning condition has removed your Permitted Development Rights.

You can access the latest technical guidance such as Annexe guidance using this link: Planning Technical Updates

Planning conditions can limit night time deliveries of goods.  The Government stated on 15 July that LPAs should take a positive approach.  This will make sure planning controls are not a barrier to deliveries.

A Ministerial Statement on 10 December 2021 extended this flexibility to 30 September 2022.  You can find out more using this link: Delivery Supply Chain: Planning Controls.

The Government have allowed longer working hours on construction sites.  The Government's Ministerial Statement on 10 December extends this flexibility to 30 September 2022.  You can find out more using this link: Delivery Supply Chain: Planning Controls

Applicants need to provide details of:

  • the relevant planning permission
  • existing agreed construction working hours
  • the condition or approved document which details the working hours (this could be a construction management plan)
  • proposed revised construction working hours
  • the date the revised construction working hours would start
  • the date when the application is sent
  • the date on which the revised working hours will stop.

To help us make a quick decision, applicants should also provide:

  • a short justification why extended hours would enable safe working practices on site
  • details of their mitigation plan.

Applications can only be made online.  Please send your request to extend site working hours to planning@cornwall.gov.uk.  Please mark as 'Extension of working hours request at (site location)' in subject line.

Planning for agricultural needs is important. You can download planning application forms for this type of development from: planning application forms.

Other guidance includes:

Are you a member of the National Farmer's Union?

You can find further information about planning and farming on the NFU website. The NFU Guide to the Planning System is available for members to download. It explains the basics of the English town planning system.

You can access the latest technical guidance such as Class Q prior notifications using this link: Planning Technical Updates

As well as the changes to the Use Class Order for flexible town centres uses, the Government have introduced Regulations that permit:

  • further temporary changes of use
  • demolition of vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes
  • building of new storeys on houses and flats,
  • building of new storeys on buildings to provide new self-contained homes. 

The regulations are complicated and detailed:

They set out how the prior approval application process will work.

Minimum space standards will apply from 6 April 2021.  These will apply to all homes delivered through Permitted Development Rights.  This means that these new homes will have to meet the Nationally Described Space Standard.  This is to ensure they provide proper living space.

Prior approval of permitted development rights to extend buildings upwards came into force on 30 December 2020. The Building Safety Programme letter contains more guidance.

New rules allowing commercial premises to be converted into home came into force on 31 March 2021.

You can find more information using this link: Permitted Development Rights

Planning Enforcement Plan

We have published a new Planning Enforcement Plan (March 2022).  It provides guidance for businesses, planning professionals and the public. 

Need help?

Most issues can be resolved online, it's the quickest and most convenient way to get help.

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