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QUESTION: Do I need planning permission to install a mezzanine?

The installation of a mezzanine does not require planning permission unless there is a ‘planning condition’ that prevents this. Under section 49 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, the government is likely to propose a maximum level of increase in certain types of floor space where planning permission will not be required.

However, planning consent will be needed if a mezzanine is proposed that exceeds the permitted level. If works to install a mezzanine have begun before the law changes, possibly in late summer, then no planning permission will be required.

Many consents have a condition that limits the amount of floor space in a development, or defines the use of floor space – for example, retailing. Whether such a condition applies to a proposed mezzanine if the limit would be exceeded was dealt with in the High Court case of Northampton Borough Council v the Secretary of State and Land Securities (7 February 2005).

The precedent in the past was an inspector’s decision in September 2003, relating to an ASDA store in Tamworth in the West Midlands. The Inspector considered that a limit on the amount of floor space that could be applied for under an outline planning permission did not apply to subsequent increases, such as the addition of a mezzanine.

However, this was never a formal legal precedent. In Northampton there was a condition that the ‘total non-food retail floor space’ should not exceed a defined level. The court decided that this condition prevented any mezzanine that would exceed the total floor space limit.

After the Northampton case, the message for anyone looking to start installing any mezzanine now is to avoid section 49 is to make absolutely sure that their proposal is not prevented by a condition.

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