Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust
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Planning FAQs

Proposed building work and making applications

Do I need consent?

The consent of the Trust is required for any external change to a Suburb property. Please contact the Architectural team for advice on this.


Do I need to make an application?

Most proposals to change the external appearance of a property require a formal application to the Trust. This includes all proposals to the external envelope of the building and alterations to landscaping of a garden. Some repairs to existing building fabric may not require a formal application, but do require the prior consent of the Trust.

Please contact a member of the Architectural team for further advice.


Do I need consent for internal alterations?

If your property is leasehold where the Trust is the freeholder then you should contact the Trust about internal alterations.

In freehold properties works to the interior of a house do not require Trust consent with the exception of loft and garage conversions. Converting a loft or garage will almost always have external manifestations. Additionally many Suburb properties have a restrictive covenant on the use of the garage.

It is worth bearing in mind that some internal alterations may require changes to the exterior, such as new pipework, flues or vents, which would require Trust consent.

If your property is listed, regardless of whether it is freehold or leasehold, you will have to make an application to the London Borough of Barnet for Listed Building Consent to make internal changes.


Do I need to make an application to London Borough of Barnet and to the Trust?

Yes. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to ensure they obtain all the necessary consents for work to their property. The Trust’s consent is needed for all external changes to a property under the Scheme of Management or terms of a lease where the Trust is freeholder. Trust consent is distinct from planning permission and must be applied for separately.

The Suburb is a Conservation Area with an Article 4 Direction which means permitted development rights are not applicable. As such you may require planning permission from the local authority for external alterations. If your property is listed you will also have to apply to London Borough of Barnet for Listed Building Consent.

Information on what requires an application to the Trust and to the London Borough of Barnet can be found in the Design Guidance, p.10. If you have questions about planning permission or listed building consent you must contact the London Borough of Barnet.

If you have a question about Trust consent, please contact a member of our Architectural team.


Can I get advice on a proposal before submitting an application?

Yes, we are happy to give free pre-application advice. Please contact a member of the Architectural team with your enquiry, remembering to include the property address. It may be necessary to arrange a site visit to better understand the suitability of the proposed works. Staff can only advise as to what we think is likely or unlikely to be acceptable – ultimately decisions are made by the Trust Council.


How do I make an application?

An application form can be downloaded from the following link to our website: https://www.hgstrust.org/your-property/application-forms.shtml.

The form explains what to submit as part of your application, including a checklist, and should be read carefully. If the submission is insufficient or missing information we may decide we cannot register the application. Every application should include 1) Your completed application form with description of the proposals, 2) a location plan and 3) Existing and proposed drawings describing the proposed work.

You can submit your application by post or by email to planning@hgstrust.org, making sure the property address is clearly marked. If you are submitting digitally, files should be in pdf format.

For more information on the application process please see: https://www.hgstrust.org/your-property/advice-and-alterations.shtml.


Do you charge a fee for applications?

Yes. The Trust charges fees on application only to cover its costs in handling them. Guidance on current fees charged can be found here.  


What is an ‘in principle’ application?

This involves asking the Trustees whether the principle of a proposal is acceptable. The fee for an ‘in principle’ application is 1/3 of a full application. If the principle is found to be acceptable, the full details of the proposal will have to be submitted and approved, neighbours re-notified and remainder of the fee paid, before consent can be issued.

An ‘in principle’ application should still be made in the same way as a full application, with, location plan and drawings and application form indicating that it is ‘in principle’.


What is a genuine restoration?

Genuine restorations are works to repair original fabric of a property, for example reconditioning an original front door so it remains usable. Where there is a change to the appearance of a property, Trust consent is required and an application may be necessary. Depending on the nature of the work, a fee may or may not be charged for considering the application.

Replacing a non-compliant building element, such as uPVC windows, with something appropriate is not considered to be genuine restoration, but simply rectification of previous unsympathetic and most likely unauthorised work.

If you are unsure whether the work you are planning is a genuine restoration, please contact a member of the Architectural team.


What is important to include on drawings?

Drawings should be clear, accurate and sufficiently detailed to be properly understood. Drawings must be to a minimum scale of 1:50 at size A3 paper and should ideally include relevant written dimensions. Existing drawings must be taken from an accurate survey. Where applicable, both existing and proposed drawings should include:

  • Materials of roof, type of hip tiles used.
  • Materials of external walls and plinth if applicable.
  • Type of windows (timber, steel in timber sub-frame etc.).
  • Description of cills and lintels/arches.
  • Pattern of external doors.
  • State whether dormers, gates, front doors, garage doors are painted or stained.
  • Position and material of all external pipework, existing and proposed.
  • Position and materials of flues, vents etc., existing and proposed.
  • A site plan.
  • Details of existing and proposed boundary treatments.  
  • Neighbouring properties.
  • Changes in ground level.
  • Areas and materials of paths and paved areas, existing and proposed.
  • Positions and species of trees and hedges.
  • All principal dimensions are to be given, including dimensions fixing the positions of dormers in the roof.

What do I need to submit for an application for replacement windows?

For an application to replace windows you need to submit:

  1. external view photographs of the current windows so that we can see what details need to be replicated;
  2. fully detailed drawings from your chosen window contractor including sections;
  3. a completed application form describing which windows are to be replaced.

We may require a sample window if the window manufacturer is not known to the Trust.


If I am replacing windows or doors like for like, do I still have to make an application?

Yes, you must still make a formal application to change windows. This is because what might be considered ‘like for like’ can differ significantly from person to person. It is important therefore that the Trust staff have clear drawings or a sample of the proposed replacement windows or doors in order to judge their suitability. Applications for replacement windows or doors can be dealt with by Trust staff under delegated powers and therefore can often be processed faster than applications which need consideration by the Trustees.


What do I need to submit for a shed application?

For an application to replace or erect a new shed you need to submit:

  1. a location plan showing where in the garden the shed would be located;
  2. a completed application form which can be found on the website;
  3. a catalogue image or drawing of the proposed shed along with dimensions. Photographs of the garden are also helpful.

What steps can I take to make my home more energy efficient?

The Trust is currently in the process of producing supplementary guidance on energy efficiency measures for Suburb homes. Until this is published please contact the Architectural team for specific advice.


How long will it take for my application to be considered?

Applications are first considered at the Property and Plans Committee (PPC) which makes recommendations to the Trust Council. The final decision on an application is made at Trust Council. Both PPC and Trust Council meet nine times a year or approximately every six weeks and applications are required to be submitted several weeks in advance so that they can be processed, a fee issued, neighbours notified and given time to comment. The schedule of meetings and deadlines can be found here.  

Applications for some things can be dealt with under delegated powers by Trust staff as soon as all the necessary information is provided. Items which fall under delegated powers, include replacement windows and doors, replacement sheds of the same size and location, altering pipework and other minor changes to properties. If you are unsure whether your proposals fall under delegated powers, please contact the Architectural team for advice.

For more information on the application process in general please see: https://www.hgstrust.org/your-property/advice-and-alterations.shtml.


Who makes a decision about my application?

The majority of applications are determined by the Trust Council which is formed of eight Trustees. Information on the Trust’s governance can be found here: https://www.hgstrust.org/the-trust/the-trust.shtml.

Some decisions are made by Trust staff where they have delegated powers. The areas that delegated powers cover include replacement windows and doors, replacement sheds of the same size and location, altering pipework and other minor changes to properties. If you are unsure whether your proposals fall under delegated powers, please contact the Architectural team for advice.


How will my application be determined?

All applications are considered on their merits and in relation to our Design Guidance published jointly with the London Borough of Barnet in 2010. The Trust has also published several supplementary guidance notes on basements, demolition and rebuilding, hardstanding, garage conversions, electric vehicle charging points and security.


Will the Design Guidance change or be updated?

Current Design Guidance was published in 2010. It was produced in collaboration with the London Borough of Barnet after careful consideration and consultation. There are no plans to update or change Design Guidance as the current version is felt to be both comprehensive and effective. The Trust produces supplementary guidance notes on specific issues which are not covered in the Design Guidance, such as on Electric Vehicle charging points. 


Will I be consulted if my neighbour is making an application?

We inform immediate neighbours when we receive an application which might affect them. We usually allow three weeks for neighbours to make comments. These comments are made available to the Trustees anonymously when they consider an application.

For proposals which will have a wider impact on Suburb residents, we will carry out a more extensive consultation. The Trust’s consultation policy can be found here: https://www.hgstrust.org/documents/consultation-policy.pdf


How will I find the decision about an application?

Following Trust Council we will write to the applicant with our decision.

Planning decisions are also published on our website: https://www.hgstrust.org/your-property/planning-decisions.shtml.


What does it mean if my application is refused?

An application will be refused if it is clearly contrary to our Design Guidance.

You may ask for a review of your application if you believe there is new information for the Trustees to consider which amounts to a material change to the original application.  If there is no new information to consider, applications previously refused will not be reviewed.


What does it mean if my application is referred back?

Applications are often referred back when amendments to the proposal are required in order for it to be acceptable to the Trust. Depending on the amendments required, it may be necessary for a revised application to go to the next meeting, but in many cases applications which are revised in line with the Trustees’ comments can be approved by Trust staff.


What does it mean if my application is acceptable subject to detail?

This means that the principle and general scope of what is being proposed is acceptable to the Trust, but that further detail is required before we can determine the ultimate acceptability of the application. Usually we will need to approve specific details, such as construction drawings or sample materials, either before issuing consent or as a condition of consent.


Why is something not a valid precedent?

There are numerous examples of work which was undertaken on Suburb properties which would not be approved today. These might include unsympathetic loft conversions with large dormers, ‘box’ extensions sometimes the width of the house, large plate glass windows, large garages and driveways or entirely paved front gardens. Many such things were carried out before the Trust in its current form was established in 1974 - indeed such changes to properties, and their accumulative negative impact on the character of the Suburb were reasons why the Trust was re-established. Other reasons for the existence of such features might be that they were executed without Trust consent (and are possibly subject to enforcement proceedings) or, in some cases, were approved before current Design Guidance came into place. It is this current Design Guidance which informs the Trust’s decision-making today. Consequently examples of work on neighbouring properties which does not conform to present Design Guidance will not usually be considered as a valid precedent to follow.


During building work

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I have received Provisional Consent for my application, what does this mean? /Why is my consent provisional?

The Trust issues consent in two stages: when an application is found to be acceptable, Provisional Consent is issued. This comes with a set of conditions. It is important to read the conditions of the Provisional Consent. The work should be carried out in accordance with the conditions. Some conditions must be discharged before a particular part of the work is started. For example, a brick sample must be approved before starting bricklaying.

When the work is finished, you must inform the Trust and arrange an inspection. The work must be completed satisfactorily in order to receive Final Consent.

Consent is not considered to be given until a Final Consent has been issued and you may have difficulties selling your property without Final Consent. More information can be found here: https://www.hgstrust.org/your-property/advice-and-alterations.shtml.


How is a condition discharged?

In order to discharge certain conditions additional information such as detailed drawings or to source sample materials may need to be provided for a member of Trust staff to approve. For other conditions the work should simply be executed as specified by the condition.

If you have a question about a particular condition, please contact a member of the Architectural team.


Should I employ an architect to monitor the building work?

Ultimately it is the decision of the homeowner whether or not to employ an architect to oversee a building project.

For most projects, it is advisable to employ an architect or qualified person to administer the contract with the builder or principal contractor. This way the project can be monitored by an experienced professional, independently of the contractor, ensuring that the work meets the conditions for Final Consent.

It is not the responsibility of the Trust to monitor or check building work.


Can the Trust recommend a contractor or tradesperson?

No. The Trust is not able to make recommendations and does not accept liability for bad workmanship.  The responsibility for choosing contractors and ensuring the work is carried out in accordance with the conditions of a Provisional Consent lies with the homeowner.


Does the Trust have lists of contractors and suppliers?

Yes, we have various lists of contractors recommended to us by Suburb residents and whose work we have approved in the past.

We keep the following lists which are updated periodically: architects and designers, brickwork and repointing contractors, general building contractors, carpenters and joiners, rendering and roughcast specialists, landscape designers, roofing and guttering contractors, structural engineers and surveyors, tree surgeons and both steel and timber window manufacturers.

As we do not control internal alterations of Suburb properties we do not have lists of contractors for internal work, such decorators, electricians or plumbers.

Persons on the list must still apply for consent from the Trust in the usual way and being on the list is not a guarantee from the Trust that their work will be acceptable.

Our lists are not on our website because they are specifically for Suburb residents. If you would like to enquire about a particular list, please email planning@hgstrust.org.


Do I have to use a contractor from the Trust’s list?

No. Our lists are simply there to be helpful. You do not have to use someone on the list.

For windows, if you choose a supplier whose work we are not familiar with, we will need to see a sample window, before approving. 


Does the Trust have technical guidance on construction?

Technical guidance notes on pointing, wall insulation, rooflights and roughcast are available on our website.

In relation to pointing, it is important to note that this is not an absolute guide and that some initiative is required from the bricklayer to try and match the original pointing of the building.

The Architectural team is able to offer further technical advice in a limited capacity.


Can I get advice on my project while building work is taking place?

Yes. We actively encourage agents, contractors, site managers or owners to engage with Trust staff during a building project.  We are happy to offer advice on best practice for working with old buildings and on discharging conditions.

You can contact a member of the Architectural team directly for advice which might be offered remotely or by arranging a site visit. A member of staff conducts site visits each week.


Does the Trust have a list of brick, tile or paving suppliers?

No. It is the responsibility of those carrying out the work to source a suitable material. The materials used across the Suburb vary widely and the Trust cannot therefore prescribe a given material as it might be appropriate for one house, but not another. However we can help your contractor source materials where necessary.   


I have sourced samples, how do I receive Trust approval for them?

In most cases you should contact the Trust office to arrange a site visit. Often a site visit is necessary to see a sample in context.


How do I arrange a site visit?

Please contact the Trust office via telephone or email during working hours and any member of staff can arrange a site visit. Site visits are conducted weekly.


Gardens, Landscaping and pavements

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Do I need consent for gardening?

No, general gardening work does not require Trust consent.


Do I need consent for landscaping?

Yes. Significant changes to the appearance of a garden require Trust consent. This includes any increase in the amount of paved area in a garden, the construction of retaining structures or steps and changes to the ground levels or general layout. Boundary hedges and trees must not be removed without Trust consent as they are important to the character of the Suburb.


Does the Trust approve fences?

Boundaries should, in the vast majority of cases, be hedges. These hedges can be reinforced with a green chain link fence for security if desired. Close boarded timber fences are not characteristic of the Suburb and are not generally acceptable. In some instances fencing might be permitted for small sections of a boundary, for example if there is a small space between houses and there is no room for a hedge to establish.


Does the Trust approve artificial grass?

The laying of artificial grass, such as AstroTurf, requires the removal of lawn and laying an inorganic material over the soil. It is detrimental to wildlife and can exacerbate drainage issues. For these reasons the Trust does not approve the replacement of lawns with artificial grass.


Does the Trust approve decking?

Decking is not characteristic of the Suburb and will not generally be approved.


What paving materials do you approve?

Natural stone paving, such as York Stone or Indian Sandstone, is typical of much of the Suburb. A riven finish especially at the front of properties is usually preferable. It is important to consider how paving materials fit with the character of the house, street and overall area. Brick paving may be appropriate in some circumstances.

Synthetic materials and ceramics, such as porcelain, are not generally appropriate. Similarly materials with a polished finish (like granite) is not generally acceptable for external paving.


There is an issue with the pavement or road outside my house. Who should I speak to?

The majority of the roads and pavements in the Suburb are owned and maintained by London Borough of Barnet. Questions about public pavements and roads, including lowering curbs, should be directed to the London Borough of Barnet's Highways Department. Some smaller roads on the Suburb are owned and maintained by the Trust.


Unconsented work

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How do you deal with unconsented work?

If we become aware of work carried out to a property that does not meet Design Guidance and does not have the Trust’s consent, in the first instance we usually get in touch with the homeowner and/or agent on site to make them aware that the work is not acceptable.

The preferred recourse of the Trust is to agree a scheme of remedial works with the owner or leaseholder. This might involve reinstating something which was removed or modifying unconsented work so that it is acceptable. Often a mutually satisfactory outcome can be achieved and the dispute resolved without requiring further action.


What is an infringement?

An infringement is a formal notice issued to a homeowner to inform them that their property is in breach of the Scheme of Management or the terms of their lease. As such the unauthorised work creates a dispute with the Trust and requires the owner or leaseholder to rectify it.

If we contact a homeowner regarding unconsented work and they are unresponsive or unwilling to agree a remedial scheme, the Trust is often forced to issue an infringement. If an infringement is not rectified after a certain period of time, the Trust may decide to take legal action.

Common examples of infringements are the installation of uPVC windows or the replacement of planting in a front garden by areas of paving.

Only when the unauthorised works have been corrected can the infringement be lifted.


Will I be able to sell my property if there is an open infringement logged?

You must inform any prospective purchaser, or conveyancer, of an open infringement on your property so that the purchaser is made aware of the necessity to correct the unauthorised works. A prospective buyer may ask that work is carried out to rectify an open infringement before completion of the sale.

If a property changes hands and the unconsented work is not corrected, the Trust will hold the new owner responsible for carrying out remedial work. If a prospective purchaser would like to carry out work, the Trust may require that the infringement is corrected as part of this work.


Is there an existing infringement on my property?

If you are unsure whether there is an existing infringement on your property, then please contact a member of the Architectural Team.


How do I rectify an infringement?

If a scheme of remedial work has been agreed with the Trust then you should carry out the work as agreed and according to the specified time schedule.

If a remedial scheme has not been agreed then you should contact a member of the Architectural team to discuss rectifying the infringement.


Why have you not done anything about seemingly unauthorised or inappropriate alterations to a property?

There are numerous possibilities as to why work which does not conform to Design Guidance is visible on the Suburb. It might be that:

  1. the Trust is simply unaware of the problem and is grateful for information.
  2. the Trust is aware of the work and is seeking to resolve the issue.
  3. the work was carried out before Trust controls or current Design Guidance were in place, and the Trust is not in a position to ask for it to be rectified.

If you have any questions which are not covered in this document, please contact the Trust and we will do our best to answer it. 

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