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Find out if you need to make a planning application

If you have checked the information below and are still uncertain whether you need to make a planning application, you can ask us for an informal answer. Please complete the form in the downloadable documents box and e-mail it (with any supporting documentation) to This completed form and supporting documents, can be used by our Planning Officers to determine whether a proposal constitutes development and, if it does, if it can be carried out under a Permitted Development Order or whether it needs a specific planning application.

If we answer telling you that a planning application is not required this is an important document that you should keep so that any future enquiries (such as at the time of sale) you can show your solicitor that no consent was necessary for the work you carried out.  If we answer telling you that planning approval is required you would then need to make a planning application.  Please note that we are unfortunately unable to confirm over the telephone or via the drop in service whether you definitely require planning permission or not.  A formal, legally binding determination of whether planning permission is required can be sought by means of an application for a Certificate of Lawful Use or Development.


Development can include building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land - for example constructing or externally altering a building. Development also includes material changes to the use of buildings or land - for example using a shop as an estate agents. Section 6 of the Town and Country Planning Act (1999) sets out the full definition of development, including some things that are specifically included and excluded (see bottom of the page). We are happy to confirm on a case-by-case basis whether or not something would constitute development. All 'development' requires planning approval. There are two types of planning approval:

  • development which is permitted by an Order (sometimes called 'Permitted Development') and can therefore be carried out without a specific planning application, as long as it complies with any limitations or conditions set out in the order and

  • approval which results from a specific planning application

Common issues

  • The temporary change to the use of land does normally count as development, including things like site compounds associated with wider building work

  • The demolition of a building is not development unless it is to be only partially demolished or is attached to another building. However, separate Registered Building consent is required for any demolition works in relation to a building which is Registered or are taking place within a Conservation Area

Permitted development

There are some forms of developments that are very common and orders can be produced which give blanket approval for them, this is sometimes called 'Permitted Development'. These orders set out the development that is permitted, including limitations and conditions (for example being outside a Conservation Area, not creating or altering an access or not being near trees).  If a type of development is not included in an order, or the limitations/conditions cannot be complied with, then a specific planning application is required.

Most Permitted Development is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development) Order 2012 (as Amended). The interactive house (below) is available to help in interpreting this as it relates to semi-or detached houses that are NOT within a Conservation Area or a Registered Building. Nothing is permitted by the 2012 order where it:

  • contravenes any condition lawfully imposed on the grant of planning approval for development of land

  • requires or involves the formation, laying out or material widening of a means of access to an existing highway used by vehicular traffic or

  • creates an obstruction to the view of persons using any such highway so as to be likely to cause danger to such persons

  • to view all of the relevant planning legislation, please see the Legislation Page

All of the Permitted Development Orders can be viewed on the Planning & Building Control legislation page.

Common issues

  • The Isle of Man Permitted Development is not the same as in the UK

  • Site compounds are permitted development subject to conditions, including that they relate to and are adjacent works which have a specific planning approval (i.e. not Permitted Development) and do not require a new access

  • Permitted Development only applies to a building which is complete. If you have planning approval to build something you must first build it in accordance with the approved plans and only one it is finished can you benefit from permitted development

  • Similarly although the internal alteration of a building often does not constitute development, the building must initially be built in accordance with the approved plans

Click on the house below to view levels of permitted developments

Planning Interactive House

Definition of development 

Development is defined within the Town and Country Country Planning Act 1999 Section 6 which states; 

(1) Subject to the following provisions of this section, in this Act 'development' means the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land. 

(2) For the purposes of this section-
(a) the use as 2 or more separate dwellinghouses of any building previously used as a single dwellinghouse involves a material change in the use of the building and of each part of it which is so used; 

(b) the deposit of refuse or waste materials on land involves a material change in its use, notwithstanding that the land is comprised in a site already used for that purpose, if-
(i) the superficial area of the deposit is extended, or
(ii) the height of the deposit is extended and exceeds the level of the land adjoining the site; 

(c) subject to subsection (3)(d), the afforestation of land involves a material change in its use; 

(d) the following are engineering operations constituting development-
(i) the material alteration of any existing means of access to land from a road;
(ii) the provision of a new means of access, and
(iii) the execution of any road works preliminary or incidental to the erection of a building; 

(e) the following are building operations constituting development-
(i) the demolition of a building which is attached to another building, where the other building is not also demolished; and
(ii) the demolition of part of a building, where the rest of the building is not also demolished.


Also, where a building is registered or situated within a conservation area, registered building consent and planning permission may also be required prior to any proposed demolition

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