40 retrospective planning applications are made every day for building work that has already been completed, it has been revealed, raising concerns about the current state of the development process. 

Around 40,000 retrospective planning applications have been filed in the last three years, as reported by Churchill Home Insurance following a Freedom of Information request. 

During this time, one in eight applications (4,758) were rejected by local authority planning officers. 

Home extensions are the most popular reasons for seeking retrospective planning permission, with homeowners increasingly choosing to expand their homes to make the most of space and accommodate growing family sizes, rather than move house. 

(MORE: Building an Extension: A Beginner’s Guide)

But homeowners risk being forced to demolish their extensions or, in some cases, their entire houses should their retrospective applications be rejected by the local authority. 

Pritpal Powar, Head of Churchill home insurance, said: “Before beginning any development, we encourage people to check whether they need planning permission and if they do, to wait until this has been granted before starting work.

“It is also important for householders to advise their insurance provider on any works they are planning, to ensure they have the correct cover in place for their property.”

(MORE: Self Build & Renovation Insurance Guide)

Why are Applications Rejected?

Almost a third of applications (28%) were rejected because the development was deemed to be out of character, while 10% of rejections were attributed to loss of privacy, and 5% cited overdevelopment. 

Single-storey extensions (2,218 applications) were the most commonly rejected applications in the last three years, followed by 459 rejections for two-storey extensions and 424 rejections for loft conversions. 

However, Jason Orme, Content Director at Homebuilding & Renovating, insists that while applying for retrospective planning approval is far from ideal, it’s not a death knell for your project. 

Orme said:Clearly if you’re at the stage of needing to apply for retrospective planning approval on building work you’ve already completed it’s a failure of the development process – in other words, you wouldn’t start from here. 

“However given that the majority of retrospective planning applications are approved, then you should be able to sleep a bit easier. Essentially, it’s simple – if the project would have been granted approval when it was built, then it should be granted approval retrospectively. So there isn’t necessarily an inbuilt bias against applying retrospectively but clearly you have no room for manoeuvre when it comes to detailed issues such as ridge height, proximity to highways and so on.

“If you do need to apply for retrospective planning approval, you’re best placed with the best advice, which always means using a planning consultant, rather than an architect, to help you with the application.”

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