The planning application process can vary enormously and depends on the nature and scale of your project , the location, the prevailing planning policies in your area and whether it is a Full Application, Homeowner, Outline, Certificate of Lawful Development, Proposed development or retrospective, etc etc
To cover all of these in detail will take many pages or indeed, many books and is beyond the scope of this page.
In this section we will briefly discuss the Planning Application process for some of the simpler projects.
What is a Planning Permission
In order to lawfully undertake development work on land or buildings, in the UK, (including material change of use), a Planning consent is required. A Planning Permission is the single most important stage before construction can begin. There is never any guarantee that Planning Permission will be given, yet without it no project can start.
Some categories of minor development are classed as Permitted Development (PD), by law and do not require planning permission. It is important therefore to first establish whether your proposed work is classed as ‘development’ and whether it is classed as PD or not. You can do this by seeking advice from your Local Planning Authority (LPA), by submitting a pre-application inquiry. Most LPA’s will make a charge for this, the amount varying from authority to authority.
If you (or we) suspect that your proposals meet the criteria for ‘Permitted Development’, we will recommend that you apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development. This is basically a formal certificate confirming the Permitted Development status of your proposals.
If the proposed work constitutes development and is not PD, then planning permission will be required.
Either way, fees are payable to the LPA, but both consents will prove to future buyers that your work is indeed lawful.
More on Permitted Development
Many minor home improvement projects, such as small rear and side extensions and loft, cellar and garage conversions, can usually be done under PD.
For example and provided the necessary criteria are met (and there are a few of those to consider!) :
- for a detached dwelling, you can add a 4m single storey rear extension of maximum height of 4m (3m max. at the eaves) measured from the ground level
- for a terraced dwelling you can add a rear roof extension (dormer) provided the ‘original’ roof volume is not increased by more than 40 cu.m
Be aware that PD rights may be restricted or removed in designated areas such as Conservation Areas, National Parks, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, as well as by a previous planning consent, or used up by previous alterations or extensions.
Flats and maisonettes have very limited PD rights. Owners of listed buildings should note that Listed Building Consent is required for all material alterations, even for work that constitutes permitted development.
For more details on PD you can refer to the government’s Planning Portal.
How to Apply
Interestingly, you don’t need to own land or a building to apply to develop it, but it is a legal requirement that all owners are notified of the application.
The application is submitted to the LPA, either online, via the Planning Portal or using traditional paper based documents. Accurate plans, elevations, sections, roof plans and location plans, are required. In some cases a Design and Access statement and further reports, to support the application, such as Environmental Impact Assessment, Flood Risk Assessment, Ecology, Heritage and Highways impact, are needed.
… and don’t forget the appropriate fee to the LPA!
Application submitted- What happens next
Once the application is submitted it will normally follow these steps:
- The application will be validated. The application details will then be published on the council’s website.
- The public and other departments are notified. During this time objections and supported comments can be submitted
- The application is assessed by the planning officer. During this period the case officer will visit the property for a site inspection.
- The officer’s report is written to recommend approval or refusal
- The report is then reviewed by senior officers. At this stage the decision may be made under delegated powers or the case may be referred to a Planning Committee
- Decision is issued
Time Periods for Decision
Local Authorities are targeted, through legislation, to determine applications within prescribed time periods.
- 8 weeks for small developments (eg. extensions, conversions)
- 13 weeks for major developments
- 16 weeks if an application is subject to an environmental impact assessment
As well as obtaining planning permission (or being covered by permitted development rights) and complying with building regulations, you may need additional permissions for development to proceed.
Depending on the project, additional consents may include:
- Alcohol licences
- Ancient monuments
- Coal Authority permits
- Common land
- Conservation areas
- Environmental permits
- European protected species
- Flood defence
- Footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways – stopping up or diverting
- Hazardous substances
- Highway stopping-up or diversion
- Listed buildings
- The Party Wall etc. Act 1996
… the above list is not exhaustive
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