How to Get Planning Permission in the UK – What to Expect

Nov 22, 2022

Whether you want to renovate your bedroom, extend your home, build an office in your garden, or build a new house, you need planning permission from the appropriate authorities. But you don’t need that permission for every construction project.

When Do You Need Planning Permission?

You only need planning permission if the work meets ‘development’ standards per the Town and Country Planning Act of 1990. This includes:

  • Engineering work
  • Building work such as construction, demolition, structural changes, and rebuilding
  • Mining work
  • Land and building material changes
  • Subdivision of a building to split it into two or more residential units

Work that does not come under development and, thus, doesn’t require planning permission includes the following:

  • Interior changes. This does not include the mezzanine floors to increase the floor space of a retail establishment by more than 200 square meters
  • Changes in the main usage of the building or land
  • Building operations that do not alter the external appearance of the building

Types of Planning Permission You May Need

There are several types of planning permissions you may need, but the two main ones include the following:

Outline Planning Permission

If you want to build a house on a piece of land, you need an Outline Planning Permission. This is an application directed to local authorities stating your intent to construct a structure on the land so they can tell you what size the house should be.

This application doesn’t require a lot of details from your end. As per the name, you need to provide a brief project outline.

Full Planning Permission

Your local authority can tell you if you need Full Planning Permission. You need to apply for one via a form. Some of the projects you may need this permission for include the following:

  • Demolitions
  • Structural changes
  • Building in your garden
  • Increasing the size of your property with an extension
  • Changing the main usage of a building

If you carry out work that requires planning permission without acquiring said permission, you can get an enforcement notice from your local authority.

This is a cease and desist order that will also force you to undo all developments made. It is illegal to ignore these orders.

Additional Permission

You may need additional permissions if your site is within protected areas, such as sites designated for tree preservation.

If your project involves demolitions, the local authority first has to approve the method you want to use if the building is 50 cubic meters or has glass and walls. Moreover, if the demolition will have an environmental impact, the authority will let you know if the site needs to undergo a complete Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

In rare cases, the Secretary of State may evaluate planning applications themselves rather than leave them to local authorities. This can happen if the government believes your project can compromise growth in specific sectors.

How to Get Planning Permission

Step 1 – Determine Whether You Need Planning Permission

If you think you don’t need planning permission, think again. The application process is necessary to prevent development in certain areas that are disruptive or inappropriate. So before starting the process, make sure you need permission. You can save yourself a lot of legwork this way.

Step 2 – Contact Your Local Authorities

Contact your local authorities to get an idea about the application process you should follow. You will increase your chances of approval since they can recommend changes that can improve your application.

Step 3 – Fill out The Application

After getting the necessary information from the local authorities and making recommended changes to your plans, fill out the application for planning permission. Most of these can be filled out and submitted online. Some of the information you have to provide, include the following:

  • The location plan and the site plan
  • Agriculture holdings certificate
  • Ownership certificate

The application must be accompanied by a fee which will differ depending on the plan’s details. Once submitted and paid for, expect a receipt in your email.

Step 4 – Application Evaluation

The local planning authority evaluates all planning applications. They can approve or reject it based on the following factors:

  • Government policy violations
  • Loss of privacy
  • Compromised highway safety
  • Nature conservation
  • Impact on listed buildings
  • Noise
  • The materials and the details that are mentioned in the plan

They may also speak to your neighbours before approving or rejecting your application. However, any objections they voice will only be considered if they align with the considerations mentioned above.

Step 5 – Wait for Their Decision

You can go ahead with the developments in your plan once planning permission is approved. If it is rejected, on the other hand, you can face legal charges if you go ahead with the plan anyway. You will also lose money since the enforcement notice will force you to undo all current work.

That can be a long and expensive process, and you will get nothing for your troubles. So make sure you get professional advice beforehand.

You can also appeal their decision with the Planning Inspectorate, i.e., if you are unhappy with the approach your local authority used to evaluate your application. If that doesn’t work, you can complain to the Local Ombudsman.

Please note that the Ombudsman doesn’t have the authority to rescind a grant. A solicitor will be able to guide you further.

Final Words

Planning permission is not free and can cost you more than the applicable charges if you don’t follow the correct application process or fail to provide all the required information. To find out more, check with your local planning authority.

They have official planning officers with years of experience interpreting and applying planning laws and policies. A consultation will give you a clear idea of where you stand and what you can do to increase your chances of getting approval.

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