A Complete Guide to Planning Permission

5/02/18

What is planning permission?

Drastic changes to existing building and the construction of new buildings usually requires consent from the local planning authority via the form of planning permission. This planning system is in place to prevent inappropriate development.

When do I need planning permission?

Anything that involves the creation of a new house, be it a subdivision or building from scratch, needs planning permission. Adding building extensions 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.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights allow for minor improvements, such as a loft conversion 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), and the extent of work already carried out on a property.

How much will an application cost?

The fee for submitting a planning application varies depending on the nature of the development. The cost is currently £462 for a full application for a new single dwelling in England, but this fee is different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For home improvements an application in England for an extension currently costs £206, whereas in Wales the cost of a typical householder application is currently £190.

As well as fees for pre-application advice, further small sums are payable for the discharge of ‘planning conditions’ which must be met before development begins.

What are planning conditions?

Planning permission can be subject to planning conditions which need to be discharged/agreed within a given time. Planning conditions are extremely important and 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 might be as simple as requiring that materials must 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 issues such as noise, parking, traffic, government policy and nature conservation to name a few.

While neighbours are consulted and invited to comment, together with parish councils (in England and Wales), only objections based on material considerations are 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.

If there are objections or the application is called into a committee by one of the local councillors, then the decision will be made by a majority vote by the local planning committee. At the planning meeting, you or your agent will be given an opportunity to address the planning committee, but this time is limited to a maximum of three minutes.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

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 time frame.

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 to 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 I carry out works without planning permission?

While it is not illegal to develop land without planning permission, it is not lawful and, consequently, if you have failed to get consent for your project, then the local planning authority can take action to have the work altered or demolished. In this instance, you can make a retrospective planning application and if this is refused you can appeal the decision. If you lose, it can prove very costly.

Altering a listed building without prior permission is, however, a criminal offence, and in extreme cases it can lead to prosecution and unlimited fines — and even imprisonment. So do ensure you apply for this first.

Piperhill Construction pride ourselves in being qualified and experienced to undertake all aspects of work; from new build, basement construction, refurbishment, through to fully integrated services and first class designer finishes. Whether working within design and build or traditional contracts, our unfailing aim is to satisfy all of our clients and their consultants requirements and to produce the highest quality finished project.

Please contact us on 0208 166 5607 if you wish to discuss a project.