An Introduction to Planning Permission

What is planning permission?

Building new houses and altering existing buildings usually needs permission from your local planning authority. This is called planning permission. Planning authorities manage this process to determine if you are able to do a certain piece of building or alteration work. It can either be granted or refused.

Why is planning permission needed?

Without this process anyone could build anything they wished regardless of the effect on the area or the people who live nearby. The planning process ensures developments are of appropriate scale, appearance and are in keeping with your local area.

When do I need planning permission?

Building a new house or sub dividing an existing building into separate dwellings would need planning permission. You may also need planning permission for an extension or outbuilding. This depends on how large the project is and if your property had any Permitted Development (PD) rights.

What is permitted development?

Permitted Development (PD) refers to the rights for householders to make alterations to their homes without the need for planning permission. Many home improvement projects can be done without planning permission, subject to meeting the requirements of permitted development. These could include house extensions and dormer loft conversions among other alterations. The amount of work that can be completed without planning permission will vary depending on the property’s location and the amount of development that has already been done. If the property lies within designated land (a conservation area of area of outstanding natural beauty) then different rules may apply. Some properties may also be subject to an Article 4 Direction which can remove all or part of a properties PD rights.

To find out more about what can be done without planning permission click here.

Are there different types of planning permission?

Yes, several. The permission for altering or enlarging your house, or other work within your site boundary is called Householder Planning Permission. If you are building a new house you would normally need to apply for Outline or Full Planning Permission.

What is the difference between outline and full planning permission?

Outline planning permission would grant permission for a development based on its basic size and shape and a few other considerations. As such, less detailed drawings are usually required than submitting a full application. Often developers will submit a full application anyway though due to the amount of other design information that needs to be submitted for an outline application.

Which type of planning permission is right for me?

If you are altering or extending an existing house then householder planning consent is the correct route. If you are building a new home then it would usually require outline or full planning permission. If you have a plot of land that already has outline permission, a full approval would usually be granted if the scheme follows the basic principles set out in the outline application. Outline permission can also afford more flexibility in the final design than a plot that has full permission. With outline permission the internal house layout and exact external appearance have usually yet to be fully agreed with the local planning authority.

How much will a planning application cost for a house extension or renovation?

A householder planning application costs around £100-£200 (£172 for an extension or renovation in England).

How much will a planning application cost for a new build house?

£385 in England, £330 in Wales, and £319 in Scotland. The charges are the same if you apply to turn your existing outline planning permission into full permission or if you make a full application in the first instance.

Are there any other associated planning application fees?

Minor changes to approved planning application are called non-material amendments and cost £28. If there are conditions attached to your planning decision notice that require removal then a further fee of £85 applies in England. Your local planning authority may also charge you for pre-application advice which, depending on location, can cost up to £300.

Top Tip: – A fee calculator is available on Planning Portal that can provide you with the exact cost.

What documents normally form the submitted planning application?

All householder planning applications will require:-

  • completed application form
  • signed ownership certificate
  • valid site location plan
  • site block plan of both the existing and proposed sites
  • the correct fee

Existing and proposed floor plans and elevations would usually also be included. If the property lies within designated land (a conservation area of area of outstanding natural beauty) or you are making an outline or full application you will usually also need to include a Design and Access statement. If you make a postal application then usually five paper copies of all documents would be required. You’re local planning authority will have a validation guide that details exactly what information needs to be included.

What is a Design and Access statement?

A Design and Access statement is a written document that accompanies and supports a planning application.  It explains a proposal’s design thinking and access to it. The statement would usually need to describe the use a building or site, how much is proposed to be built, the layout of any proposed building in relation to existing buildings and spaces, the scale of any building works, any effects on the landscape, and the buildings appearance. In addition the existing vehicular and pedestrian access to the site should be described with an explanation of any proposed changes that may affect access to, from, or around the site.

How much does a Design and Access statement cost?

The level of detail required varies depend on the scale of the development and its potential impact on its surroundings. As such the cost could vary significantly depending on the specific project, and the fee scale of who is producing the statement on your behalf.

Do I need a Design and Access statement?

You will usually need a Design and Access Statement if the property is within a Conservation Area, a World Heritage Site or is a Listed Building, or if your proposals included the creation of new dwellings. Homeowners that do not fall into these categories will generally not require a Design and Access Statement for alteration works to an existing property.

When will I hear back from the Planners?

Your local planning authority will confirm receipt of your application in writing. You would normally receive a written decision notice within eight weeks of submitting your application. You application will either be granted or refused. If after the eight week period has expired, your application is refused with no prior warning, you have the right to make a non-determination appeal.

How soon do I have to begin work?

Normally three years from the date of the approval — you must begin work in that time or reapply.

Can plans be altered once full permission has been granted?

Minor alterations can be made by applying for a non-material amendment. Major alterations may involve a further application for Full planning permission; it is wise to discuss your plans with the local planners at the earliest opportunity.

Can planning permission be extended?

If planning approval was granted on or before 1st October 2010, and it has not already run out, you can apply to extend it. You would need to make an application and pay a £50 fee. Application forms are available on Planning Portal.

5 top tips about planning permission

• You don’t have to own a plot of land to make a planning application on it.
• You can make as many planning applications on any plot of land that you wish. It is then up to you which one you choose to use.
• You should receive a planning decision within eight weeks from submitting an application.
• Just because your neighbour or other local residents object it does not mean that you will be refused planning permission.
• If you think your planning application may be refused you can withdraw it at any time prior to receiving a decision and resubmit for free.

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