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Advice on Planning Permission

What is planning permission?

Construction of new buildings and extensive changes to existing buildings usually requires consent from the local planning authority. This planning system is designed to control inappropriate development.

When do I need planning permission?

Anything that involves the creation of a new house, either by building from scratch or a subdivision, needs planning permission. Adding extensions or outbuildings requires planning permission depending on the size of the project and the level of Permitted Development (PD) rights afforded to or still remaining on a property.


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What are Permitted Development Rights?

The concept of Permitted Development (PD) was introduced at the very beginning of our planning system – in the Town and Planning Act on 1st July 1948 – and allows for minor improvements, such as converting a loft or modest extensions to your home, to be undertaken without clogging up the planning system. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each benefit from their own version of these rules.

The level of work that can be carried out under PD depends on a variety of factors including location (Areas of Natural Beauty and Conservation Areas have different rules), and the extent of work already carried out on a property

To find out more about what can be done under PD click here.

What's the difference between Outline and Full planning permission?

Outline planning permission grants, in principle, the construction of a dwelling, subject to certain design conditions based on size and shape. The design information required with an Outline application however has to be so detailed that many developers decide a Full application is the best way to proceed. If, however, your plot comes with Outline permission, you will need to examine the approval document, which will give you a good idea of the type of house you could end up building. ‘Full’ approval is likely on a design that follows these guidelines — but it is also true to say that other design schemes could be approved.

How much will an application cost?

Whether you’re applying to turn Outline planning permission into Full consent – in which case you’ll need to apply for an ‘Approval of Reserved Matters’ – or a Full application from scratch, an application will cost £385 in England, £330 in Wales, and £319 in Scotland. For improvements to existing houses the fees reduce considerably, in the £100-200 region (£172 for an extension/renovation in England). There’s a fee calculator available on Planning Portal for any other applications you might make.

It’s worth noting that there have been some changes in fee structures recently. Non-material amendments to planning applications (i.e. a ‘minor’ change — the definition of which is open to interpretation) were previously free but will now cost £25. In addition, the approval required by condition or limitation attached to a grant of planning permission now costs £85 in England. Councils also have the right to charge for pre-application advice, and while some are maintaining this as a free service, others are charging £30-300.

What is the basic form of a planning application?

Each site has different requirements but generally an application should include five copies of application forms, the signed ownership certificate, a site plan, block plan and elevations of both the existing and proposed sites, a Design and Access Statement and the correct fee.

What's a Design and Access statement, how do I get one, and how much will it cost?

These statements have to accompany all planning applications besides householder building works in unprotected areas and changes of use. Statements are used to justify a proposal’s design concept and the access to it. The level of detail depends on the scale of the project and its sensitivity. Most authorities will have guidance notes available to help you but, unfortunately, unless you ensure you have included one in your submission, planning authorities can refuse to register your planning application.

When will I hear back?

Your local planning authority (LPA) will first provide written receipt of your application. You should then receive a written approval or refusal within eight weeks of your application being made. If, however, your application is refused – with no prior warning given by your LPA – in excess of the eight week period, you have the right to make a non-determination appeal.

How long do I have to begin work?

Planning permission is typically granted for three years — meaning you must begin work in that time or face reapplying.

Can I alter my plans once Full permission has been granted?

You can make minor alterations by applying for a non-material amendment. However, major alterations could involve a further application for Full planning permission, so discuss your plans with your LPA first.

Can I extend planning permission?

If you were granted planning on or before 1st October 2009, and it has not already run out, you can apply to extend it. The form is available here on Planning Portal and is subject to a fee of £50.

5 things you need to know about planning permission

  • You can make a planning application on any piece of land in the country — you don’t have to own it.
  • Your planning decision should take no longer than eight weeks from the point of application.
  • The objections of neighbours and local people may well not have any impact on the final decision.
  • You can withdraw an application at any time — so if you think you are going to get a refusal, you can withdraw it at any time up to the day itself, and resubmit free of charge.
  • You can submit an infinite number of planning applic­ations on any one site — and choose which one to use. As long as it is current, you don’t have to use the most recent.

Standardised forms

Since April 2008, all local planning departments use the same application form, known as 1APP, you can find the appropriate form for your area and complete the application process online at the Planning Portal.

Books on planning permission

For further advice on planning, buy The Planning Game by planning expert Ken Dijksman or How to Get Planning Permission by Roy Speer and Michael Dade.

Article Updated January 2013

2 Comments

We had 12ft single rear extension about 17 years ago. Nearly 4 years ago we built a canopy extension having been advised by the council permission was not required, however they're now saying we're in breach and must be removed, Our neighbours have the exact same extension and have not objected. Can we appeal

Hello Bea,

I've reposted your query in our Q&A section.

You can find it here: http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/community/questionandanswer/our-council-wa...

Lindsey