A Complete Guide to Planning Permission in England and Wales

Are you looking to improve your property? Do you have a project that requires planning permission? For this weeks Top Tip Tuesday we are providing you with a complete guide from start to finish on planning permission.

So, what is planning permission?

So you want to build your own house on a piece of land or make changes to an existing property. To do this you need permission from your local authority. Planning permission is a formal document which is issued by the council to allow development at a particular site. The planning permission is attached to the land and can be implemented by anyone, not necessarily the person who has applied for the permission in the first place.

The council considers all local and national planning policies together with the views of statutory consultees and the local community when dealing with applications for planning permission.

Some development is allowed without permission which is called permitted development. Other development requires a prior notification application which is known as prior approval. In addition, you may also require Building Regulation approval. Find out if you need planning permission or prior approval below.

Do I need planning permission for any changes I make to my property?

If your project involves the creation of a new dwelling (by either building from scratch or subdividing an existing home), then planning permission is normally required.

Adding an outbuilding or building an extension will require planning permission, depending on the size of the project and the level of Permitted Development rights afforded to or still remaining on a property.

Smaller additions and improvements can normally be made under your Permitted Development Rights.

To find out more about Permitted Development Rights, click here.

5 factors you need to know about Planning Permission

  • You can make a planning application on any piece of land in the country – you do not have to own it.
  • Your planning decision should take no longer than eight weeks from the point of application.
  • The objections of neighbours and local people may well not have any impact on the final decision.
  • You can withdraw the application at any time – so if you think that you are going to get a refusal, you can withdraw it at any time up to the day itself, and resubmit free of charge.
  • You can submit an infinite amount of planning applications on any one site – and choose which one to use. As long as it is current, you do not have to use the most recent.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development allows for smaller, minor improvements which includes converting a loft or modest extensions to your home, to be undertaken without clogging up the planning system. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each benefit from their own version of these rules.

The level of work that can be carried out under Permitted Development depends on a variety of factors including:

  • Location (areas of natural beauty and conservation areas have different rules).
  • The extent of work already carried out on a property.

There are different types of planning permission with the most common being:

  • Outline Planning Permission
  • Full Planning Permission

Outline Planning Permission

For example, say you have bought a piece of land and you would like to build a house on it. You want to know if you can even build on the land first so you may look at getting Outline Planning Permission. This simply is an application to your local authority informing them of your intent to build on the land and they will inform you what size house you could build.

In comparison to Full Planning Permission, the Outline application does not require as much detail of your intent, just more of a brief outline of what you are planning on doing.

PLEASE NOTE: Outline Planning Permission is not a legal requirement when looking for planning permission. Depending on your project, you may prefer to apply for Full Planning Permission as your first step.

Full Planning Permission

Knowing whether or not you need Full Planning Permission is something you need to check with your local authority. When applying, you will need to initially full in an application form. An example of this form can be found below.

Examples of when you may need to seek Full Planning Permission are:

  • Structural alterations.
  • Building in your garden.
  • Demolishing an existing building.
  • Extending your property (dependent on size).
  • Changing the main use of a building.

Full details of applying for Planning Permission in England and Wales can be found on the official Government website here.

How much does it cost to apply for planning permission?

The amount you will pay for an application does vary depending on the nature of your project. The current costs for application for a new build in England and Wales is £462. If you are looking to renovate or improve your home the cost is around £206.

Be aware! You will find that as your application progresses, you may come across further fees depending on the nature of your application.

What does a Planning Application include?

In general terms, an application should include:

  • Five copies of application forms.
  • The signed ownership certificate.
  • A site plan, block plan, elevations of both the existing and proposed sites.
  • A design and access statement.
  • The correct fee.

Design and Access Statement

A Design and Access Statement must be accompanied with your application if you are planning on major development. It is essentially a report justifying that the design is appropriate for the environment in which the development will reside in, and that sufficient access can be made to the property by potential users.

The Design and Access Statement is to make sure that you have considerably thought about the impact of your development on the surrounding area. This also includes the effect on local people who may be disabled, young children and the older generation.

Planning Permission Conditions

Sometimes the planners will grant permission subject to certain criteria that need to be met/ agreed to within a certain time frame. These conditions are extremely important. Failure to comply can result in what is called a breach of condition notice, to which there is no right of appeal – not to mention it could be enforced through the courts by prosecution.

Conditions may be as simple as requiring that materials mist match existing ones, or that all boundary treatments must be agreed.

How are applications decided?

The local authority will base its decision on what are known as ‘material considerations’, which can include the following (but are not limited to):

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

Neighbours will be consulted and invited to comment, together with parish councils (in England and Wales), but only those objections based on material considerations taken into account. If the neighbours do not object and the officers recommend approval, they will usually grant planning permission for a householder application using what are known as delegated powers.

How long does the application take?

Once your application has been submitted, the planning department will check that all of the information it requires has been received together with the correct fee. Local authorities are supposed to determine planning applications within 10 to 12 weeks of registration, and the majority of straightforward householder applications will be dealt with within this timeframe.

A sign is posted outside the address relating to the proposed development and any neighbours likely to be affected are written to and invited to view the plans and comment. This is known as the public consultation process and it takes three to eight weeks. The authority will make statutory consultations to the local Highways department, and where necessary the Environment Agency as well as others.

What happens if my application is refused?

Around 75% of applications are approved in England and Wales. However, if you are refused application for planning permission you can either amend the application already submitted to fit with the Local authority guidelines or make an appeal. According to research, around 40% of appeals to the local planning inspectorate are later granted!

I have got planning permission! When do I start building?

Upon receiving planning permission you have 3 years to start your project. After the 3 years you would need to apply for permission again.

Planning Permission FACTS

  • Overall, it should take no longer than 8 weeks for you to receive a decision from your local authority about your planning application
  • You can actually apply for planning permission on ANY piece of land in the country, whether you own it or not!
  • You can withdraw you application at any time and re-apply free of charge! You might do this if you realise your application is going to be refused. You can then amend it and send it back with no extra cost!
  • It can be a worry that people local to your planned development may try and stop the application going ahead. However, this can sometimes have no impact on your application at all.

This Complete Guide to Planning Permission is only a basic outline of the things you need to be aware of when making an application for planning permission. A great resource for finding out everything you need to know about Planning Permission is the Planning Portal website that can be found by clicking here.

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