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Planning Permission: Application Types, Cost and Rules to Know

it's possible to make an application for planning permission online via the planning portal
(Image credit: getty images)

Planning permission might be a term that strikes fear into the hearts of self builders and home improvers, but given that 86% of all applications are approved first time, it needn't necessarily. 

The key to a successful planning application is knowing which hoops your project needs to jump through in order for your plans to be approved. Yet while there is a clear framework for planning across the country, to some degree your success or failure when making an application will depend on the individual circumstances of your build, plot, neighbours and council. 

The first step in your planning permission journey is to get to know how the system works — something our complete guide to planning permission can help with. 

In this guide, we explore the types of applications you can make, the costs involved, how your application is decided and what you need to consider in your design to get your build approved. Plus, find out whether you even need planning permission in the first place, or if you can build under Permitted Development.

What is Planning Permission?

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The Planning Hub is a new online resource that will help you understand how to get to grips with complex planning rules. Join today for access to easy-to-read guides which will provide you with key information to help you secure planning permission. 

Planning permission refers to consent from your local authority for a proposed building, which is in place to deter inappropriate developments. It's usually required when building a new dwelling or making extensive changes to an existing one. 

Planning permission is also often the key that turns a piece of agricultural land into a viable building plot.

Decisions on whether to grant planning permission are made in line with national guidance (in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local planning policies set out by the local authority.

(MORE: Understanding Local Plans)

filling in a paper planning permission application form is also possible.

You can apply online for planning permission through the Planning Portal or by contacting your local planning authority through your local council.  (Image credit: getty images)

What are the Different Types of Planning Permission?

There are several types of planning permission available, each best suited to certain projects and builds:

  • Full planning permission offers consent for a project based on a detailed designed being provided. However, your project must be shown to meet the planning conditions attached to the permission in order for approval to be valid. These must be discharged formally by letter by the local authority to start work.  
  • Outline planning permission doesn't include any specifics in the design, but offers a 'permission in principle'. Outline planning permission doesn't give you consent to begin the work, it's used more often to explore whether a build would be viable. An application for ‘reserved matters’ — which may include the size of the proposed house, appearance, position, landscaping and access — will need to be submitted and approved before work can take place. If your detailed plans deviate significantly from the original outline permission then you’ll likely need to submit for full planning. 
  • Householder planning permission is used for permission to alter or extend an individual house within the boundary of the property. 

How Much Does Planning Permission Cost?

The cost of submitting a planning application varies across the UK, but these are the current fees applicable:

  • £462 for a full application for a new single dwelling or outline planning permission per 0.1 hectare in England
  • £206 for a householder application in England
  • £460 for a full application for a new single dwelling or outline planning permission per 0.1 hectare in Wales
  • £230 for a householder application in Wales
  • £401 for a full application for a new single dwelling or outline planning permission per 0.1 hectare in Scotland
  • £202 for a householder application in England

Planning permission for a two storey extension

(Image credit: Getty Images)

if you're granted planning permission subject to planning conditions, further costs will be incurred in approving details and materials, at a cost of £116 per application (though multiple conditions can be combined in a single application).

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.

However, the real cost of obtaining planning permission arguably comes in preparing the plans and documents (the design fees) in readiness for submission and any accompanying surveys (such as ecological surveys) which may be required. 

Also bear in mind that you may need to make more than one planning application in order to reach agreement with the council and make revisions to your plans accordingly (which may involve further architect/designer fees).

(MORE: What Do I Need to Submit a Planning Application?)

A minimum budget of around £2,000 is probably realistic for getting planning permission.

How Long Does Planning Permission Last?

What is a Material Start?

While planning regulations don't dictate what a material start is precisely, it's usually assumed to be where you submit a Building Control application to dig and pour the foundations. An inspection by Building Control will prove the start date of the build. 

Planning permission will expire after a certain time period — normally three years from the date full consent is granted, unless your permission says otherwise. 

If your planning consent is about to expire, there are several options open to you. First, you can make what is known as a material start to the project, as you only need to start the project, not finish it, within the three year period. 

However, if you need more time to plan effectively, you can reapply to ensure nothing is rushed. There is no longer an option to simply renew planning permission, so you will have to submit a re-application. Bear in mind that you are not guaranteed to get planning consent a second time, and you may be applying against a very different planning policy background three years down the line. 

Planning permission for a project is attached to the land, so a plot can be bought or sold without planning permission expiring. Planning permission will likely add to the value of the land for a potential developer. 

With that in mind, avoid buying a plot with planning permission that is about to expire — consent will expire before you have chance to get started and you may pay over the odds. This is especially relevant on consents that were hard fought or where planning policy may have changed. 

How Do I Know if I Need Planning Permission?

If your project involves the creation of a new dwelling (either a self build or subdividing an existing home), then planning permission is normally required.

Larger outbuildings or extensions, or builds/improvements in designated areas or involving listed buildings, are also likely to require planning permission.

Is it Possible to Build Without Planning Permission?

Smaller additions and improvements can normally be made under Permitted Development, an implied consent for builds that meet requirements. However, they will need to fall within certain restrictions to qualify. Always check with your local authority before starting a project without planning permission, and seek a Lawful Development Certificate as proof that the development was legal at the time of building. 

(MOREDo I Need Planning Permission?)

How Far Can I Extend Without Planning Permission? 

For detached properties, you can build a single storey extension up to 8 metres from the rear of your house under Permitted Development. This decreases to 6 metres for both semi-detached and terraced houses.  

How Long Does it Take to Get Planning Permission?

You should find out whether your application has been approved after eight weeks — although more complex schemes can take longer.

A sign is posted outside the address relating to the proposed development and any neighbours likely to be affected are written to and invited to view the plans and to comment. This is known as the public consultation process and it takes three to eight weeks. The authority will make statutory consultations to the local Highways department, and where necessary the Environment Agency as well as others.

Realistically, if you are having to make more than one application (following revisions or changes to the design), you should consider setting aside 18 months for the process.

Securing planning permission doesn’t necessarily mean that you can start work straightaway. Make sure you look at the planning conditions attached to the consent — for instance, you may need to seek approval for your chosen cladding or roofing materials.

Should I Use a Consultant for Planning Permission?

Many people will appoint a planning consultant before they even buy a plot, to work out the potential of a development. This could save you thousands of pounds on buying a project that turns out not to be feasible.

Planning consultants have full knowledge of the ever-changing planning policies that any project will be subject to. So, whether you are extending, renovating or building a new home, their help could be indispensable — especially if your project is in a designated area of which carries restrictions such as a Conservation Area or AONB.

(MORE: How to Get the Most From Pre-Application Advice

a planning consultant helping with planning permission advice

(Image credit: getty images)

What's Included in a Planning Permission Application?

In general terms, your application should include:

  • five copies of application forms
  • the signed ownership certificate
  • a site plan, block plan, elevations of both the existing and proposed sites,
  • a Design and Access Statement
  • 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 a statement in your submission, planning authorities can refuse to register your planning application.

What Factors Affect the Granting of Planning Permission?

The local authority will base its decision on what are known as ‘material considerations’, which can include (but are not limited to):

  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Parking
  • Highway safety
  • Traffic
  • Noise
  • Impact on listed building and Conservation Area
  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Government policy
  • Disabled access
  • Proposals in the development plan
  • Previous planning decisions
  • Nature conservation

(MORE: How to Get Planning Approval)

Do I Need to Notify my Neighbours When Making a Planning Permission Application?

How to Keep Your Neighbours on side

If you can accommodate minor changes without undermining your goals then it might be worth doing if it could help avoid local objections.

 There’s no legal requirement for you to let your neighbours know when you’re making a planning application.  However, neighbours will be consulted and invited to comment, together with parish councils (in England and Wales), but only those objections based on material considerations are taken into account.

If the neighbours do not object and the officers recommend approval, they will usually grant planning permission for a householder application using what are known as delegated powers.

Like it or not, when you build things, you risk upsetting people. It may not be rational, but people get very emotional about changes that they fear will affect their home, their view or their property’s value — or even just the street they live on.

With this in mind, you might consider it worthwhile to consult with your neighbours on the plans, letting them know in your own words and in a friendly setting what your plans are for the build. This may assuage any concerns they have when then liaising with the council. 

If there are objections or the application is called into a committee by one of the local councillors, then the decision will be made by a majority vote by the local planning committee. At the planning meeting, you or your agent will be given an opportunity to address the planning committee, but this time is limited to a maximum of three minutes.

(MORE: 14 Secrets to Ensure Planning Success)

Face-to-face meetings can be helpful in thrashing out the justification for objections. Requests for changes should be based on planning policies and they should be consistent with other recent decisions in the area.

Can I Make Changes to my Design When Planning Permission is in Place?

Before a judgement has been made on your planning application, you can withdraw it 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. 

Once planning permission has been approved, 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 yourlocal planning authority first.

How Likely is it that my Planning Application will be Approved?

According to MyJobQuote, in England, around 86% of applications are granted. If your application is rejected, you can either amend and resubmit having dealt with the reasons for refusal, or you can make an appeal to the planning inspectorate.

Around 40% of householder applications that are refused are later granted at appeal.

(MORE: Planning Permission Refused? Here's What you Should do)

Can I Build a House Without Planning Permission?

While it is not illegal to develop land without planning permission, it is not lawful and, consequently, if you have failed to get consent for your project, then the local planning authority can take action to have the work altered or demolished. In this instance, you can make a retrospective planning application and if this is refused you can appeal the decision. If you lose, it can prove very costly.

There is a legal loophole: if no enforcement action is taken within four years of completion, the development becomes immune from enforcement action (10 years for a change of use). 

In this instance, you can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness if you can prove that the building has been in the same use for the last four years. The development then becomes lawful — but this is too great a risk to take. It's also worth noting that changes that have been deliberately concealed won't be eligible for gaining consent through the passage of time 'four year rule'. 

Altering a listed building without prior permission is, however, a criminal offense, and in extreme cases it can lead to prosecution and unlimited fines — and even imprisonment. So do ensure you apply for approval first.

Can I Get Planning Permission for a Home in the Countryside?

Many believe it is harder to get planning permission if you are building a home in the countryside. However it certainly isn’t out of the question as our guide to planning permission in the countryside explains.

In fact, under Paragraph 80 (formerly both Paragraph 79 and Paragraph 55) of the National Planning Policy Framework, it is even possible to build in green belt land, if your project can be shown to be of particular architectural merit and worth.

(MORE: 5 Incredible Homes that Beat Tough Countryside Planning Rules

black barn paragraph 79 house

This self build project was built by Studio Bark under whhat was then Paragraph 79, sometimes called the Country House Clause.  (Image credit: Lenny Codd)

Can You Make a Planning Permission Application on Land or a Home You Don't Own? 

You can make a planning application on any piece of land in the country — you don’t have to own it. 

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