Planning law is complex and extensive, and although not experts, we have acquired a great deal of knowledge about the system.

As a local Planning authority, Camden only has the powers conferred on it by statute, and these powers are restricted.

In addition to statutory requirements, Camden is required to take into consideration, when considering planning applications, the policies laid down in its own approved Plan. Most of Hampstead and the surrounding areas are designated Conservation Areas, therefore, account must be taken of the published Conservation Area Statements and Management Strategies. These are valuable guides to the sorts of development which will or will not be allowed.
Camden Council uses the following eight sub areas to define the conservation area of Hampstead:

1. Heath Street/High Street
2. Christ Church/Well Walk
3. Willoughby Road/Downshire Hill
4. Church Row/Hampstead Grove
5. Frognal
6. Branch Hill/Oak Hill
7. Whitestone Pond
8. Outlying Areas (North End, Vale of Health, The Elms)

As a rule of thumb, it can be said that planning permission must be sought for all kinds of building development, changes of use and basements in a Conservation Area and for most work elsewhere. The principal exception is for interior alterations, unless the building is listed. Hampstead and the surrounding areas have more listed buildings than most and, if you live in one of these, you must seek permission for virtually all work.

What happens to a Planning Application?

Camden receives the second highest number of planning applications in London and an exceptionally high number of these come from the Hampstead area. Up to 90% of applications are dealt with by officers without being subject to scrutiny by councillors in the Development Committee. Cases which contravene planning policies and are harmful to our environment are all too often passed by officers by what are called ‘delegated’ powers. This precludes us from any chance of influencing the outcome.

All applications should be notified in the local press, posted outside the premises and on-line.

If the decision is to refuse consent, only the applicant has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate and, if funds allow, from there to the High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, and in our view wrongly, there is no appeal allowed against a grant of planning permission, except by a very expensive route to the High Court and even if this can be afforded, there are severe restrictions on the allowable grounds of appeal.

If an application has been made that adversely affects you, an objection needs to be made promptly to Camden. The period of public consultation is only 21 days from the publication of the application.

Please always contact Camden and also contact us if you know of a development taking place without planning permission.