Understanding all the ins and outs of planning permission can become a headache if you aren’t fully up to speed on the details. That’s why we’re here to help you understand everything you need to know about planning permission, which will hopefully lead to a smoother process for you.

What is Planning Permission?

The building of new structures, along with considerable changes to existing buildings typically requires consent through your local planning authority, so, for example, if you live in Cornwall, planning applications would go through Cornwall Council’s relevant local authority in the form of planning permission.

The whole reason for this process is to prevent any inappropriate developments arising, meaning there is suitable control and a level playing field.

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

Whether you’re building from scratch or adding to existing builds, planning permission needs to be acquired, in most cases

If you’re looking to add building extensions or outbuildings, this requires planning permission subject to the size of the project and the degree of Permitted Development rights provided or still remaining on a property.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

To address the last point, if you’re not sure what Permitted Development Rights are, they essentially allow for minor improvements. Prime examples of this include; loft conversions or extensions of a modest size, that can be undertaken without causing a backlog in the planning system.

Of course, the level of work under Permitted Development varies on a range of factors, such as location and the amount of work a property has already had carried out on it. If your building is Listed, or within a Conservation Area, you are unlikely to have the same Permitted Development Rights.

How Much Does My Planning Application Cost?

The cost attached to submitting a planning application differs due to the nature of each development. However, we have two examples of costs for you:

  • The cost for a full application on a new single dwelling in England is currently £462.
  • The cost of an application for an extension to a home in England is £206.

There are also some additional small fees that are required to be paid on top of pre-application advice for the discharge of ‘planning conditions’. Once these are covered off, development can begin.

What Does a Basic Planning Application Include?

No two sites have the same requirements; therefore, typically, an application includes five copies of application forms:

  • The signed ownership certificate
  • A site plan
  • A block plan and elevations of both the existing and proposed sites
  • A Design and Access Statement
  • The correct fee

What’s a Design and Access Statement?

Design and Access Statements must accompany all planning applications, apart from householder building works in unprotected areas and changes of use.

These Statements are included as means to justify a proposal’s design concept and the proposed access to it. Detailing of the statement is dependent on the size of the project as well as its sensitivity. The majority of authorities will have readily available guidance notes that will help you. It’s worth remembering that, unless you ensure you have included a Design and Access Statement in your submission, planning authorities are at liberty to refuse to register your planning application.

What are Planning Conditions?

As you’d expect, planning permission is often subject to various planning conditions, and these need to be discharged/agreed within a certain space of time. Planning conditions are tremendously significant, so any failure to comply can result in what’s known as a breach of condition notice. For anyone who receives this notice, there is no right of appeal. What’s more, it could be enforced through the courts by prosecution, so it’s important to have your paperwork in order and follow the protocol.

How is My Application Decided?

Local authorities base decisions on ‘material considerations’. These can include any of the following:

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

If any objections arise or the application is called into a committee by one of the local councillors, decisions are then made via a majority vote by the local planning committee. During a planning meeting, you are permitted an opportunity to address the planning committee, which is capped at three minutes.

Neighbours can also be consulted and invited to comment, together with parish councils, prior to the application being granted. However, only objections grounded on material considerations are taken into consideration. Should neighbours not object and the officers endorse approval, they will normally award planning permission for a householder application using delegated powers.

How Long Will My Planning Permission Take?

Upon submitting your application, the planning department will go through the necessary checks to ensure they have all the information required with the correct fee. Local authorities should determine planning applications within a 10 to 12-week timeframe from the point of registration.

A sign will be posted outside the address relating to the proposed development. Any neighbours who could be affected will receive written confirmation of the proposal and will be invited to view the plans and offer any comments. This is part of the public consultation process which takes between three and eight weeks.

It’s the authority’s role to make statutory consultations to the local Highways department, and if needed, the Environment Agency or any other organisation necessary.

Do I Need a Planning Consultant?

It’s commonplace to enlist the help of a planning consultant before buying a plot, for example. This would be to work out the potential of any possible development. By having a consultant on board, it could save you thousands on buying a project that doesn’t materialise.

Planning consultants are equipped with the full knowledge and understanding of the constant-changing planning policies that each project is subject to. No matter what your project entails, a planning consultant’s help could well prove to be imperative. This can especially be the case if your project is in an area carrying restrictions such as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Do I Have a Timeframe to Start Work?

Once planning permission is granted, you will typically have three years to carry out any works. Therefore, you have to start work within this period of time, or you may need to reapply.

Can My Plans Be Changed After Full Permission is Granted?

It is possible to make minimal alterations by applying for a what’s known as a non-material amendment. For major alterations though, a further application for full planning permission may be required.

If My Planning Application is Refused, What Should I Do?

Around three-quarters of all applications are granted in England. In the event of your application being refused, you can either amend and resubmit it once you have addressed the reasons for refusal. Alternatively, you can make an appeal to the planning inspectorate. In the region of 40 percent of householder applications that have been refused are granted on appeal.