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Planning Permission For Businesses

The council takes a very positive approach to helping business through the planning process, especially new enterprises or where existing ones want to move or expand in the borough. We have a free Planning for Business service if you want to bring new enterprises or jobs to the borough. Remember if you are carrying out building works you will probably also need consent under the Building Regulations.

In Planning for Business, we will prioritise applications that generate jobs and provide clients with a bespoke building control service able to advise at all stages in design, construction and building assessment to limit risks and help control costs. We will work to find solutions to any enforcement issues that involve operational businesses and offer support and business advice. If all else fails, we will work to identify suitable re-location options. A free advice session is available before an application is made for any businesses needing planning permission either to expand or to set up new enterprises in the borough. For more information, contact us.

Advice is available on the following alterations to premises:

This section is a guide to the planning system for businesses. It provides help on when planning permission is required and how to make a planning application. However, it is not an authoritative interpretation of the law. If after reading this section you are still unclear how to proceed, you can contact us.

Planning permission is not always required. Changes to the inside of buildings, and small alterations to the outside of the building such as the installation of telephone connections and alarm boxes, generally do not require planning permission. Other small changes, for example putting up boundary walls and fences below a certain height, can be permitted development for which a specific application is not required. These rules may not apply if the building involved is a listed building or in a conservation area.

Change of use

Further details are on the Change of Use page.

Extending premises

Minor extensions, including the erection of additional buildings within the curtilage, may not need a planning application because the development is already permitted by national legislation. The guidance below indicates when, in general, an application for permission will or will not be required. Further information is available at the Planning Portal.

Factory or warehouse extensions

Planning permission will not normally be required if your extension is:

  • Less than 1000 square metres of floor space
  • Less than 25 per cent of the volume of the original building
  • Below the height of the original building

The extension must be related to the current use of the building or the provision of staff facilities. Planning permission will be required if the extension:

  • Materially affects the external appearance of the building
  • Comes within five metres of the boundary of the site
  • Reduces the amount of space available for parking or turning of vehicles
  • Volume is calculated from external measurements. 'Original' means as first built, or as the building stood on 1 July 1948, if built before then

Office extensions

There is no permitted development for sites that are specifically offices. Therefore an application for planning permission will normally be required. There may be limited circumstances where very minor works can be regarded as being so small that they are not worthy of an application – the works are “de minimis” – but you should contact us to get confirmation.

Building new premises

The construction of new premises nearly always needs an application for planning permission and consent under the Building Regulations. Our Planning for Business service will be able to help you.

Working from home

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the dwelling will change as a result of the business. If the answer to any of the following questions is "yes", then permission will probably be needed:

  • Will your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
  • Will your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
  • Will your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
  • Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?
  • Will you need to extend your house specifically to accommodate the new business?
  • Will your proposal involve the employment of people that do not live at the house?
  • Will there be regular deliveries that could harm residential amenity?

Whatever business you wish to carry out from your home, whether it involves using part of it for 'bed and breakfast' accommodation, using a room as your personal office, providing a childminding service, using rooms for hairdressing, dressmaking or music teaching, or using buildings in the garden for repairing cars or storing goods connected with a business – the key test is: is it still mainly a home or has it become business premises where the business use is having a noticeable impact on the character of the neighbourhood? To avoid any doubt on this type of issue, you may wish to contact us with details of your proposal and then further detailed advice can be given.

Advertisements and signs

Further information is available on our Advertisement Consent page.

Making an application

More information is available in the Making an Application section of this web site. 

Our Economic Development team work to support business across the borough and those businesses looking to locate within Ashford. If you think the team can assist you, please complete their enquiry form or take a look at the useful information on Get local Business Support.

Contact us

In person

Civic Centre, Tannery Lane, TN23 1PL

By email


By post

Planning Help
Ashford Borough Council
Civic Centre
Kent TN23 1PL

By telephone

01233 331111