Planning perm/building regs for bathroom conversion?

Hi all, not strictly DIY (although there will be an aspect of that towards the end!) but as there are knowledgable people on here I pormised to ask...
My inlaws currently have a downstair loo (small room, toilet and small basin) that is next to a larger (maybe 2m square) cloakroom come cupboard. Plan is/was to knock down the joining wall (not load bearing), fit new loo + basin and install a shower cubicle.
Having had Dolphin in to quote and having laughed at their 14k quote they have now had a local plumbing company (much bigger than a one-man-and-his-dog setup but still a decent local company who they have used before) in to quote and they have offered to do all but the wall demolishing *and* fitting a rather whizzy 1500 quid shower setup for 5.5k all in. Much more sensible.
Problem is they also mentioned building regs/permission and suggested that my inlaws talked to the council...
Council were sent a letter asking for advice. Letter contained a diagram of the proposals and asked if planning or building control permission was required. Response from the council has been a very glossy folder containing some documents that make little sense and a price list that doesn't tie in with any of the documentation - further attempts at contacting the council have not produced anything more useful so far!
So, anyone on here got any ideas? There was mention of "building notices" being needed but not a "full building plan submission" (although a footnote claims that they still need to pay the plan cost even though they are not submitting plans!)
It will be a change of use of sorts - but then a different view on it would be a simple extension of an existing bathroom! They are now considering giving up on the idea or going ahead and just not telling the council and geting on with it.
Any words of wisdom before they go back to the council again next week? Is this something that people would think would need planning permission? I realise that the work should be done to current building code but is this likely to need the 180quid inspection?? Also, the costs seem to be in relation to the price of the project - does this really mean that they have to pay an extra 100 quid to have it inspected simply because they have chosen a rather posh expense shower? Howabout if their "inspected" shower consisted of a couple of pipes sticking out of the wall - would they then be free to add the expensive shower later? Could they get the very basics (knock wall down, plumb in a cheap and nasty shower) done first to come in below the expensive prices and then upgrade to the whizzy stuff later?
Cheers,
Darren - confused having read all the paperwork this afternoon!
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dmc wrote:

I can't see why they would need planning permission anyway. Surely this is just concerned with external appearance, access etc. Just get on with the job and don't worry about it. I've moved internal non load bearing walls and never even thought about planning permission.
Two of my neighbours have moved their garden fences adjacent to the pavement without permission and no action has ever been taken by the council, although I was refused permission to do the same, simply because I did the right thing (or so I thought at the time) and applied to the local council.
Terry D.
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Thats all well and good until you come to sell. May not be an issue for you I accept.
Brother-in-law bought a house that had had some work done on it with out planing permission - no end of hassle.
Darren
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dmc wrote:

How was the unauthorised work detected? I moved an internal wall by 2 feet to increase the width of my kitchen. The job is first class. Unless a prospective buyer had access to the original house plans (very unlikely after 30+ years), there is no way of knowing that any changes have been made. However, some of my neighbours may have problems when selling, having moved garden fences up to the pavement without permission. I was refused permission to do this and now own a 3 foot wide piece of land between my fence and the pavement which is mainly used as a litter bin by the local yobbery.
Terry D.
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Surveyor noticed that the house was different to all the others that he had seen in the terrace and raised it on the survey. Solicitor then chased up and found (or rather, didn't find!) the planning permission.

Or your buyer has a keen surveyor. Anyway, this would be fairly obvious to anyone who knows any of the other houses on the large estate.
Cheers,
Darren
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On Sat, 06 Mar 04 21:03:55 GMT, a particular chimpanzee named snipped-for-privacy@ukc.ac.uk (dmc) randomly hit the keyboard and produced:

Building Regulations and Planning Permission are two completely separate things. Unless the building is listed, it's highly unlikely that PP will be required. A Building Regulations application will be required for any alteration to a 'controlled service or fitting' (i.e. drainage).
There are two distinct ways of submitting a Building Regulations application; a 'Full Plans' and a 'Building Notice'.
- A 'Full Plans' application, as the name suggests, is where plans are drawn up and submitted. These are then checked and if they show that the proposals comply with the applicable requirements, they are approved. These plans can then be followed on site.
- A 'Building Notice' does not necessarily require plans to accompany the application, although some details, such as structural calculations, may be requested by the BCO on site. It is up to the person carrying out the work to demonstrate to the BCO that it will comply, usually by a detailed discussion on site.
With both types of application the charge is the same, but for a Full Plans application, the charge is paid in two parts; a plan deposit charge and an inspection charge. A Building Notice charge is payable in full on application (because it generally involves more detailed inspections).
For the works you describe, a Building Notice is the better option. The fee would be based on the estimated cost to carry out work that would comply with the requirements. The level of the fittings is irrelevant, so the estimate should be based on bog-standard fittings.
--
Hugo Nebula
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[snip excellent descriptions]
Now why can't Ashford council produce a document that says that? I understood all of that - the council seem to have taken something along those lines and made it totally unreadable!
Thanks for the input - I've passed it on. At least they will know a little more about the process when they head down to see the council next week (again).
Cheers,
Darren
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