A Beginner's Guide To Applying For Planning Permission
— 06 December 2022
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— 06 December 2022
Planning permission is often viewed as a scary and complicated thing. In truth, it can be a bit confusing if you have never applied for it before. What exactly is it, and how does the application process pan out?
If you think you need to apply for planning permission, or would like to learn more about this topic, we have put together a beginner’s guide to help you. We will cover all of the key talking points to ensure you know what planning permission is, why you might need it, when you might need it and how to apply.
What is planning permission? Effectively, planning permission is the approval granted to you by your local authority to perform specific types of building work. It’s been in place since the late 1940s and many people will apply for planning permission throughout the UK every single year. You may also see the term referred to as “planning consent” on some websites or documents.
This simply refers to the local council that governs the area you live in. You should already know who this is, but you can head online and Google it to be certain. It is important to know this as they will be the ones you contact to obtain permission. Contact the wrong council and you will waste a lot of time!
Primarily, this permission will let you build something new or alter an existing structure. We will talk in more detail about the type of projects that need planning permission later in this guide.
Without planning permission, anyone would be free to do absolutely anything to their property. In most cases, this wouldn’t be an issue as a lot of the things you’re likely to do won’t cause problems. However, local councils have guidelines that homeowners need to follow.
These guidelines are in place to protect the local area and any nearby buildings/structures. They ensure that anything you do won’t have a negative effect on your neighbours or cause serious problems. For instance, it could stop you from building a huge upward extension that blocks all the natural light from a neighbour’s garden and leaves them in the shade all day. This has a negative effect on their life, so your planning permission would likely be rejected.
As a short summary of why you need planning permission, the best answer is simply that it prevents people from building or doing whatever they want.
Primarily, you can fit projects into two categories:
As such, the following projects are likely to require planning permission:
Let’s say you have purchased some land and want to build your home on it. Even though you own the land, you will need to apply for planning permission from the local council. The same goes for any projects that require you to knock down a structure and build a new one. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere without any neighbours, you still have to go through the application process just to be sure.
The same applies to an outbuilding you might want to build - like a garage or a large shed.
Do you want a loft extension or an extension added to your kitchen? If so, you will have to apply for permission from your local council yet again. This is because you are seriously altering the structure of your property, which may have consequences for those around you. Think back to the example given earlier - a loft extension could make your house taller, meaning it has a negative impact on your neighbours.
You might think that a kitchen or other extension behind your house wouldn’t impact anyone, but you still have to submit an application. We’ll touch on what happens if you carry out work without obtaining planning permission in a moment.
If you convert a room in your property - or convert a structure on your property - this will also require planning permission. Well, it could or it couldn’t; this depends on the specific conversion or renovation. The whole point is that you should still contact your local council to see if planning permissions are required or not. If they say that you can go ahead without any permissions, then that saves you the time of submitting an application.
Still, you can’t take a risk and do things without informing your local council. Even if you don’t need permission, it’s better to check and be sure than to go ahead and find out you actually did need to obtain permission.
If you are denied planning permission, you won’t be allowed to proceed with your project. Typically, your local authority will explain why your application has been denied. In many cases, you can make alterations to your designs and submit a new application to see if it is approved.
Starting a project that requires planning permission without submitting an application could result in the demolition of your project. Your local authority may demand that you reverse the work, or they could ask you to submit an application right away. Even if you do submit a retrospective planning application, they could deny it and force you to demolish your work.
Furthermore, properties with illegal work carried out on them will be unmortgageable. Essentially, this means that no lender will approve a loan on this property, so you will struggle to find buyers for it in the future.
The good news is that submitting an application is easier these days thanks to an online portal. Simply search for it online and you will find the correct government website depending on where you live in the UK.
The application is fairly straightforward and will require basic information on your property. But, you will also need to add some supporting documents, these are as follows:
This is probably the most complex aspect of the application process as you often don’t know what these documents are or how to get them. Working with a professional can help you during this stage. The team at Spatial Design Architects can help with your entire application and inform you of the right documents needed for your specific project. We can even help you obtain these documents so you don’t miss anything when submitting your application.
How long does the whole application process take?
Usually, the entire process can take up to 8 weeks for standard projects but expect it to be longer for more complicated designs. The exact time will largely depend on your designs and if there’s any backlash to deal with.
A typical timeline will look something like this:
Often, this isn’t where the process ends. When you are denied permission, it often comes with suggestions on what you could do to make your project more realistically feasible for approval. In this case, you have to begin the entire application again, submitting a new one with revisions or alterations to your original ideas. As you can imagine, this means the whole process will take longer, possibly lasting up to 16 weeks or more.
This is why it is very important to submit a good original application, laying all of your cards out on the table. Working with our team at Spatial Design Architects will help you do just that. We’ve assisted numerous clients in submitting successful planning permission applications over the years, so we understand how to put everything together. Our detailed designs ensure local authorities and members of the community see exactly what you are planning. This increases the chances of your application being accepted right away, so you can start the project a lot sooner.
Hopefully, this guide clears things up and explains what planning permission is, why you need it, and when you need it. If you require help submitting your forms, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.
At Spatial Design Architects we have a clear ethos; no matter the scale or type of project, we are dedicated to delivering a professional service and client satisfaction. Our reputation as one of the leading contemporary architects’ practices in Essex, means we are always exploring contemporary design and its possibilities to create something unique and exciting. Contact us today.