Inspiration and advice for your building project
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Planning permission is typically granted for three years — meaning you must begin work in that time or face reapplying.
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.
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
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.
Article Updated January 2013