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Planning Permission

Planning permission can seem like a complicated topic. However, with some guidance and professional assistance, the process can be navigated with ease. Read on to learn more about how to obtain planning permission for your project.


What is Planning Permission ?


Planning permission is essential for many types of building projects (although there are cases where is is not required), and if you build without it, the whole project may end up being demolished by the local authority. Understanding the process and what you are required to prove to the planning authority is essential for a successful planning application. The basic purpose of planning permission includes preventing unlawful developments that could be harmful to a neighbourhood or the environment, ensuring that the character of the local area is not altered by a property which is too aesthetically different to others in the area, and finally making sure that the building meets the relevant standards of safety and workmanship. While planning regulations are centralised throughout the country, each local authority has their own planning department, who will be responsible for examining your application to see if it meets the required standards. 


How Much Does It Cost to Apply for Planning Permission ?


The cost of submitting a planning application varies throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In England, the cost for a full planning application is £462 for a full application to build a house from scratch. The cost for an extension is £206, and in Wales both types of application cost £190. In Scotland and Northern Ireland the prices vary according to the local authority in question. However, this cost does not include the price of having the actual designs drawn up by an architect to submit to the council. In the event that your application is rejected, you will also be required to pay another fee in order to try again. In general, the total cost of obtaining this permission is likely to cost you around £2000. 


How Long Does It Take?


Once your planning permission application has been made, it lasts for up to three years. This will normally give you plenty of time to carry out your construction project if you applied for it after having purchased the plot. However, if there was existing planning permission on the site that is going to expire within one year or less, it is recommended to reapply to avoid the risk of the permission becoming invalid. In that case, you could be required to cease construction immediately or risk having what had been constructed up to that point being demolished. 


It is worth noting that if a plot has planning permission that expires soon, it is not guaranteed that this permission will be renewed, since planning regulations are somewhat fluid and have a tendency to rapidly evolve depending on government policy. This is something to consider when purchasing such a plot, particularly if you are aware that the planning decision was hard-fought in the first place. If you haven’t yet purchased the plot, it can be a good idea to apply for what is called outline planning permission. This is much less involved than a full planning application, and simply involves notifying the planning authority of your intentions for the land, for example letting them know that you would like to use the plot to build a house.


Do I Need Planning Permission?


There are certain circumstances in which you do not require planning permission. This is generally the case for small-scale extensions such as porches and conservatories, as well as renovations, which fall under what is known as Permitted Development. It is considered your right as a homeowner to make these developments, as they are unlikely to have a significant impact on the surrounding area. It is still worth double-checking with your local authority that your project falls under Permitted Development, since in some cases you will still be required to submit a planning application. However, this is generally only the case if the project is to be carried out in a protected or designated area of natural beauty, or you are working on a listed building. In almost all other cases, for example larger extensions or new-build properties, planning permission will be required. 


How and When Will My Application Be Approved?


Once you have made your application, you will normally receive a decision within a maximum of eight weeks. However, it could end up taking longer in the event that your neighbours make an objection. During this stage, those who are liable to be affected by the construction works and the resulting building will be contacted by post and invited to look at the plans and decide if they would like to make an objection. You are also required to place a notice outside the property or site with your contact details on it, explaining what you plan to build, how long it is liable to take, as well as other information about the intended project. When you are granted planning permission, it will be with conditions attached which you are obligated to follow for the development to be legal. The local authority will verify whether or not you have, in fact, followed these conditions, and in the event that you have not you may be forced to make changes to the build. This could potentially include having to alter aspects of the construction which have already been completed. 


The local authority’s decision to grant you planning permission or not depends on a number of different factors. The most important of these are any potential impacts the proposed works may have on the neighbours, including for example their privacy, as well as the new building potentially blocking sunlight to their property. They will also consider factors including traffic, noise, the appearance of your proposed construction works, and potential impact on disabled people in the local community, if your building hinders wheelchair access to a pavement for example. At this stage, it is a good idea to speak with your neighbours yourself, and showing them the plans to allow them to raise any potential issues with you in person. Taking this approach means that people are more likely to be favourable to your development, since you have taken the time to ask them about their opinions on the project as well as taken into account any concerns they may have.


How Likely Is It That My Planning Permission Will Be Approved? What If It’s Not?


In general, planning permission is granted upon the first application. 70% of applications in England and Wales are granted without any issue, and of the remainder 40% are accepted after having gone to appeal. In the event you are not granted planning permission but decide to go ahead with construction anyway (which we would advise you very strongly against), then you do have some degree of legal protection. If no enforcement action is taken within four years of the construction being completed, then the building can no longer be subject to any opposition by the local authorities and will be allowed to remain standing indefinitely. However, this is highly risky, and could lead to the works being completed and paid for, and then forcibly demolished if the new building is noticed within this four-year period. Clearly, this represents a significant financial risk on your part, which is why once again we strongly recommend that you do not choose to do this.


An architect is an invaluable resource to help you navigate the planning permission process and succeed in receiving permission for your project. Find an architect near you specialised in planning permissions at to start bringing your dream construction project to life.    

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