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How and When Do You Need to Apply for Planning Permission?

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Grasping the intricacies of the planning permission process is not just a legal requirement for most building projects in the UK, it’s a source of empowerment. This knowledge can help you navigate potential legal issues, ensure your project aligns with regulations, and ultimately, lead to a smoother execution of your vision.

The blog below explains when planning permission is needed, how to apply, potential costs, contesting denials, and whether professional help is advisable. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is required from local councils before undertaking certain kinds of land development in the UK. It ensures that development projects in an area conform to the local council’s strategic plans and provides legal permission to proceed with your plans according to the details submitted. 

What projects need planning permission

Planning permission is often required for building projects such as house extensions, conversions of existing buildings, new constructions, installing amenities like swimming pools or patios, and changing the use of a building. 

For instance, if you’re planning to build a new house, you’ll need to submit detailed architectural plans, a site plan, and a justification for the project. If you’re converting a commercial building into a residential unit, you’ll need to provide evidence of the building’s structural integrity and a plan for parking. 

Why is planning permission needed?

Local councils evaluate applications to ensure the development aligns with policies, won’t impact neighbours, and fits aesthetically. Planning aims to balance growth with preserving the environment and heritage. 

The planning permission process allows local authorities to monitor and control development in their area. It is an essential part of managing urban growth and expansion. 

Since the Town and Country Planning Act 1947, planning permission has been required in the UK for most forms of development. The types of projects requiring permission and application requirements and procedures have evolved, but planning approval remains fundamental to building control. 

Who is involved in planning permission?

Local councils are the key players in the planning permission process. They set the planning policies and development plans for their regions, striking a delicate balance between economic growth and environmental protection. Understanding their role can equip you to navigate the process more effectively. 

If you discover that you are living in a previously extended house without planning permission, you may want to sell your house fast. Get in touch today to make this happen.

How do I apply for planning permission?

Planning permission is obtained by contacting your local council’s planning department. You can apply online via the Planning Portal website or submit a paper application. 

The planning permission application process includes:

  • Determine if planning permission is required for your project. The Planning Portal guides standard projects. 
  • Prepare the necessary drawings, documents, and details about the development. These include site plans, drawings of the project, photos of the site, and justification. 
  • Fill out the application form with all relevant details. Forms are available from council websites or the Planning Portal. 
  • Pay the application fee to the council. Fees vary based on the size and type of the project. 
  • Submit the completed application with all supporting documents to the council. Applications can take 8-12 weeks for a decision. 
  • Make any required changes if the council requests revisions. Permission may be granted conditionally. 
  • Receive final planning permission if approved and adhere to all conditions. 

Your application must provide as much detail as possible. This includes accurate drawings, detailed project specifications, and justification explaining your rationale and how it meets policy objectives. A clear and complete application can help speed up the process and minimise requests for further information from the council. 

Does getting planning permission cost money?

Local councils charge fees to apply for planning permission to cover administrative costs. Fees depend on the type and scale of the development. 

  • A standard application for a significant development like a housing estate costs £624 in England. 
  • More minor projects like home extensions have reduced fees of £258 for single homes or £509 for multiple dwellings. 
  • Outline permission applications also follow a scale based on the land size, costing £624 per 0.1 hectare up to 2.5 hectares. 

In Wales, fees are slightly higher at £460 for full permission and £230 for household extensions. 

Scotland charges £600 for full and outline applications and £300 for householders. 

Once approved, amendments are typically free. While not negligible, planning fees are small relative to total building costs. Always check your local council’s latest fee schedule before applying. 

Am I allowed to contest a planning permission denial?

Yes, applicants can contest a planning permission denial by appealing the decision. 

There are several grounds on which an appeal may be justified:

  1. The council’s reasons for refusal are unjustified or insufficient. 
  2. The council did not decide according to proper procedures. 
  3. The council did not consider new evidence submitted after the original rejection. 
  4. The development is consistent with the council’s local plan when adequately considered. 

To appeal, you must submit your reasoning in writing to the Planning Inspectorate within six months of the decision. This starts a formal appeals process involving written statements from both parties and public inquiries if necessary. 

How to appeal a planning permission denial

Appellants may choose to hire planning consultants, who are experts in navigating the planning system and can help you formulate and argue the appeal. Their expertise can be particularly valuable if your case is complex or if you’re unfamiliar with the planning process. 

Remember, if you feel a planning permission refusal is unfair, you have the right to contest it. The inspector ultimately provides a legally binding decision, and around a third of planning appeals are successful. So, don’t lose hope. Contesting a refusal you believe is unjust can be a worthwhile endeavor. 

If you appeal a planning permission refusal, thoroughly reviewing the council’s stated reasons and rationale is essential. Consult with a planning expert to determine if you have valid grounds that could lead to a successful appeal. 

New information that you did not initially submit can sometimes be presented. You must demonstrate in detail how your case satisfies policies and development plan objectives. 

When do I need to apply for planning permission?

Planning permission is required for most major home building and renovation projects. If you complete work without approval, you may receive an enforcement order to reverse the changes. This can be a costly and time-consuming process, and you may also be fined. To avoid these issues, it’s crucial to determine if your plans need permission before starting. 

Home extension applications

Home extensions typically do not require permission if they meet specific criteria. For example, single-storey rear extensions up to 8 metres for detached homes or 6 metres for other housing are usually permitted. 

Height allowances, distance from boundaries, matching appearance, and other factors also apply. Exceptions are made for designated areas like Conservation Zones. 

Garage conversion applications

Converting garages into living spaces can often be done without permission, provided the garage is not subject to existing planning conditions requiring it to stay a parking space. 

Internal renovations

Similarly, most internal renovations, such as loft conversions, new staircases, or kitchen and bathroom updates within an existing home, do not need approval. However, listed buildings and conservation areas may still require permission to do internal work. 

Check your specific council requirements

While some projects may seem exempt from planning permission, it’s always wise to thoroughly check your specific council’s policies and restrictions. Engaging an architect, planner, or engineer can provide valuable guidance on design and help you navigate local regulations, potentially saving you time and effort in the long run. 

Should I get help with applying for planning permission?

While optional, hiring a planning consultant or architect can be highly beneficial when applying for significant planning permission. 

Planning Consultants offer expertise to:

  • Please advise if planning permission is required for your specific project. 
  • Determine the probability of obtaining authorisation based on policies. 
  • Prepare professional drawings and designs that comply with regulations. 
  • Formulate the application and supporting documents optimally. 
  • Communicate with the council throughout the process. 
  • Appeal any rejections with solid rationale. 

This can save you time and headaches and improve your chances of success compared to doing it yourself. Consultants are almost always employed for significant developments. They are familiar with the system and can negotiate with planners. 

For smaller domestic projects like home extensions, doing it yourself is achievable. However, hiring local expertise is recommended for navigating regulations and boosting success rates in getting your permission approved. 

Click on the link to read our page on what to disclose when selling a house in the UK.

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