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Paul Bennett, Director

The residential property stock in London is akin to a living museum – listed buildings of architectural importance and period dwellings that reflect design fashions of the times – but many of the homes in the capital are outdated when it comes to layouts and the square footage required for modern life.

Behr & Butchoff helps many buyers on a specific quest - those who fall in love with London property for its character and provenance but want to create a unique home by extending or remodelling. 

Some of today’s most lavish and coveted properties are the product of extensive refurbishment work – think sprawling new basements that serve as spa and entertainment complexes and rear extensions that double the amount of living accommodation. 

It’s quite usual to see ‘sold’ signs throughout the NW and W postcodes sitting next to scaffolding and a skip. Of course, works of the extent listed above - especially when undertaken in architecturally sensitive buildings or in conservation areas - will need planning permission.

With so many new property owners keen to make their mark and create the home of their dreams, it may come as no surprise that poorly planned projects and overzealous owners can fall foul of the planning law. Westminster authority – which governs St. John’s Wood and many of the neighbourhoods we serve – actually has the most planning breaches in the UK.

Data collected by revealed there were more than 10,000 planning breach complaints in the City of Westminster between 2016 and 2020. In addition, the local authority served over 4,500 enforcement notices to parties in Westminster in breach – statistics that are both more than any other location. 


If you are viewing properties for sale in London with ambitious plans, obtaining the correct planning permission before work starts is of paramount importance. Not only will it prevent you from receiving an enforcement notice and stop you being fined or taken to court, you’ll find out if there are any restrictions or conditions attached to your property or the area before work starts. It may even be the case that you don’t need permission from the local planning authority to carry out the work under permitted development rights, although your project may still be subject to ‘prior approval’ and building regulations. 

Finally, a note on adding value via pre-approved planning permission. Sellers in the Westminster authority may benefit from having authorised planning permission in place before their property goes on the market. Not only can it make your home more desirable to buyers, it can increase the potential price a home may sell for. This is by way of saving the buyer the time and cost implications of going through the planning application process themselves.


If you are buying or selling a property in the St. John’s Wood area where planning permission is part of the equation, Behr & Butchoff can share its useful advice with you, gained from 25 years of trading in the Westminster authority. Contact our team today.