A beginner's guide to planning permission

A beginner's guide to planning permission

What is planning permission? 

Planning permission, also known as planning consent, is the formal permission from a local authority for the altercation or erection of any kind of building. It is also required for a change of use of buildings or land.

Do I always need planning permission?

Some projects don't require expressed planning permission because they qualify under development rights. Recently the UK government extended what is permissible under permitted development rights so they could speed up the drawn out planning process.

Is my project covered by permitted development?

Permitted development rights cover minor extensions and demolition, and certain small scale changes of use like loft, garage and basement conversions. To play it safe you need to check your planned renovation or extension at www.planningportal.gov.uk and make sure the project you are planning meets the permitted development rights criteria. For example, a single-storey rear extension cannot extend beyond the original property more than 3 metres if an attach property. On a detached property this is 4 metres. The criteria is very precise and depends on many aspects - so do your homework before you plan.

What if I’m still not sure whether permitted development rights apply?

Planning permission can be confusing especially if your project is not a standard one, so to be safe you can apply to your local authority to gain a Certificate of Lawful Development. This will prove that your planned development is legal and can be an important document if and when you plan to sell in the future.

How do I apply for planning permission?

You need to submit an application to your local authority. Forms are normally the same across all local authorities and can be accessed, completed, uploaded and submitted at www.planningportal.gov.uk. Some local authorities differ more than others, for example, in Cumbria you may not be allowed to erect a structure on your land if it upsets the natural beauty of the area.


How much will it cost?

The cost of applying for planning permission varies depending on the nature of the planned project and application. All information can be found at www.planningportal.gov.uk. It is worth checking this out before you start planning your extension.

How soon will I have a decision?

When you submit your application the local authorities will provide you with a target date of when they will give you the yes or no. This may not happen if your project is large or esoteric.

What if my application is refused?

If your application is refused it is not the end of the road. You do have the ability to appeal any decision to the Planning Inspectorate. Your refusal notice will clearly outline whether you have the ability to appeal and specify the timeframes you have. When you submit your appeal an independent planning inspector will then consider the appeal taking into account local and national policy.

I want to extend my house but there’s a tree in the way, can I cut it down?

Before cutting it down it is important that you contact the council to ensure that the tree does not have a preservation order on it. If you are in a Conservation Area, you will need to get special consent. Check before you chop down any trees or you may get into complications later.

Written by James Brosnan