Planning guidance for businesses

If you work for a business that wishes to make alterations to its property, you may need to apply to the council for planning permission.

We can only advise on properties that are within the New Forest district. Before contacting us, you can confirm that your business's property address falls within the district by using our online postcode lookup below.

If the business property is within the New Forest National Park, you will need to apply to the Park Authority for planning permission.

If the business property is within the New Forest district, you can apply for planning permission via the Planning Portal using the online form below.

We also provide planning guidance for householders and planning guidance for developers.

Requirements for planning permission

Sometimes a low-key use and small changes to business premises do not need planning permission, as they benefit from what is termed 'permitted development'. Find out more about permitted development rights for businesses.

You can check with us if you need planning permission by submitting a pre-application enquiry form. You should also include details of your project and the relevant fee. We will provide an opinion in writing as to whether the work does or does not require permission, though this is not a legally binding decision.

It may be that your business requires a legally binding decision on the need or otherwise of obtaining planning permission before proceeding with a proposal. If this is the case, you can submit a certificate lawful proposed development application form. You should also provide accurate details for your project and the relevant fee. You will receive a formal decision as to whether or not your proposal is permitted development, or if an application for planning permission is required.

If your business is carrying out building works, you will probably also need consent under the Building Regulations. Find out more on our building control pages.

Coronavirus: Planning support for businesses

We are keen to help high street businesses across the district ensure that they are able to safely welcome customers back to their premises, following the updated guidance that all non-essential retail businesses are permitted to open from June 15. This includes a relaxation of planning regulations for public houses and restaurants to temporarily operate as food takeaways and also support for businesses opening on the high street. Find out more about planning support for business during COVID-19.

Pavement licenses for temporary furniture

The government has introduced a new, streamlined process to allow businesses to quickly obtain a licence to place temporary furniture, such as tables and chairs, outside cafes with a decision made within 14 working days. The new licence will support venues to operate safely, boost income and protect local jobs.

You can find out more information about this scheme and make an application using this link

The licences are available for any business premises that sell food or drink for consumption; including pubs, cafes, bars, restaurants, snack bars, coffee shops, and ice cream parlours, supermarkets, or entertainment venues which sell food and drink.

Extension to working hours on construction sites

On 13 May 2020, the government published a written ministerial statement on planning and construction working hours. This statement expects local planning authorities to approve requests to extend construction working hours temporarily to ensure safe working in line with social distancing guidelines until 9pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are very compelling reasons against this. Find out more about the extension of hours for construction sites.

Extension to planning permissions

Planning permission deadlines will be extended by the government under new measures to boost the building of thousands of new homes after three months of restrictions.  Planning approvals with an expiry date between the start of lockdown in March and the end of this year will be extended to 1 April 2021. Find out more about the extension of hours for construction sites.

Supplementary planning documents

We publish several supplementary planning documents (SPDs) which should be taken into account when preparing proposals for some businesses.  The list below may be relevant to your particular proposals, but you will need to consider all planning policy guidance to see if there other policies that may be relevant.

Icon for pdf Shop front design guide [2.69MB]

Icon for pdf Parking standards [710.87KB]   

Icon for pdf Design of waste management facilities in new development [1.38MB]

Permission in principle

The permission in principle (PiP) consent route is an alternative way of obtaining planning permission for housing-led development. PiP separates the consideration of matters of principle for proposed development from the technical detail of the development.

The PiP route has two stages:

  1. The permission in principle stage establishes whether a site is suitable in principle.
  2. The technical details consent stage is when the detailed development proposals are assessed.

Article 5B of the Permission in Principle (Amendment) Order 2017 sets out development that is specifically excluded from a grant of permission in principle. This includes habitats development and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) development. 

As a result of this, we are unable to accept any applications for permission in principle. This is because the area includes and is close to a number of significant environmental designations of international nature conservation importance.

The New Forest European and Solent Coast European sites include European nature conservation designations such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs) and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). These locations are detailed below.

New Forest European Sites

  • The New Forest SAC.
  • The New Forest SPA.
  • The New Forest Ramsar site. 

Southampton Water and Solent Cost European Sites

  • The Solent Maritime SAC.
  • The Solent and Southampton Water SPA.
  • The Southampton and Isle of Wight Lagoons SAC.
  • The Solent and Southampton Water Ramsar site.
  • The River Avon SAC.
  • The River Avon SPA.
  • The Avon Valley Ramsar site.
  • The Dorset Heaths SAC.
  • The Dorset Heathlands SPA.
  • The Dorset Heathlands Ramsar site. 
Making minor changes to a business property without planning permission.

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