A Guide To Getting Planning Permission

Jane Wardle

Written by Jane Wardle on January 8, 2019

Updated June 25, 2019


Having the financial backing to do work to your property is lovely, but there’s a lot more to it than saving up the money you need and hiring a team of people to carry out the work for you. Making sure you’re following all of the legal requirements and doing everything by the book is incredibly important and can ensure that your work is carried out without unnecessary stress.

What is planning permission?

If you’re planning on making significant changes to your property or its foundations, then you need to acquire permission, known as planning permission, from the local planning authority. You need to do this before any work is carried out and doing so can ensure a smooth process. Planning permission is there for a reason. It is there to stop people from making unnecessary and inappropriate changes to buildings without the consent of the local authorities.

You can submit an infinite number of planning applications on the same property which is useful if you have a number of different ideas as for how you may want to alter your property. If the applications are granted, you can then choose which one to use.

You can also withdraw a planning application at any time. This is particularly useful if you believe that your application will be refused, as you can withdraw it and resubmit an altered proposal free of charge.

When do I need it?

If you’re thinking of adding an extension to your house, whether that be directly attached to your current building or else as a separate building at a distance from the building itself, planning permission will likely be required before any work can go ahead.

Naturally, whether your project requires planning permission or not depends on a number of different factors. Furthermore, getting ahead of the game and enquiring before you begin work will give you peace of mind that the work you are doing is lawful.

If you’re unsure about whether or not your project requires planning permission, then you should contact your local planning authority for further help and information.

A new single dwelling application in England costs £462 while applying to build an extension onto your house currently costs £206. These fees are different across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Once your application has been paid for and approved, it normally lasts for three years.

Certain projects can be carried out under Permitted Development Rights, a process that does not require planning permission. These rights are subject to conditions, and there are a number of guidance and legislative documents available on the Department for Communities and Local Government website.

Projects such as a loft conversion, or a small extension, could be considered as permitted development although circumstances can differ, but generally speaking, an extension up to eight-metres can be added to a detached house without planning permission.

While most houses have Permitted Development Rights, flats and maisonettes do not, so owners of properties such as these, wanting to make changes to their structure need to acquire planning permission to do so.

What do I have to do to obtain planning permission?

Applying for planning permission is incredibly simple, particularly in this digital day and age. Most applications can be made online through the planning portal – this portal serves applications for every local authority. Once your application has been submitted and your fee paid, your local authority will determine whether your application is successful or not within 10 to 12 weeks of the application being registered.

You will be asked to place a sign outside the property, outlining the work to be carried out, and anyone who lives in close proximity who may well be affected by the work is notified. These neighbours will be invited to comment on the proposals, but only objections based on significant factors will be considered when deciding whether or not to approve your application.

Conditions that affect whether your application is accepted can include whether the extension results in a loss of privacy, noise, how the density and layout of the building are changed, whether there is disabled access and previous planning decisions, amongst others.

Sometimes, buildings not only require planning permission but also building regulations approval. These are two different concepts and having one does not automatically grant you the other, so ensuring that you acquire the correct documents is key. Going ahead with a project without prior approval can result in the work done being altered or else demolished entirely. Altering a listed building, on the other hand, without prior permission is a legal offence and can lead to prosecution.

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