Planning permission

What about Planning Permission?

Planning Permission is usually required to construct a new building, make major alterations to an existing building, or make changes to the local environment. The purpose of Planning Permission – which is given by local planning authorities – is to ensure that construction work is carried out with consideration to neighbouring residents and the surrounding area. There are two types of Planning Permission: Outline Planning Permission and Detailed Planning Permission (also know as Full Planning Permission). Outline Planning Permission is permission in principle to build on a site, with details such as size, dimensions, materials and access, established at a later date. You are still required to make a supplementary application for full Planning Permission, and no building work can begin on Outline Planning Permission alone. It is usually valid for three years, so re-application will need to be made if building work is to begin after this time. Detailed Planning Permission sets out exactly what is to be built and includes dimensions, room layouts and building materials. It is valid for three years and building work may begin immediately once permission is granted. Occasionally, conditions of approval will be attached, which must be adhered to.

Should I seek pre-application advice?

It is useful to seek pre-application advice from the relevant planning officer before making an application. Previously, those seeking permission could request general advice in order to avoid unnecessary design costs and inappropriate submissions. Currently, however, Local Authority Planners can be reluctant to provide this service; some charge for their advice, while others refuse to discuss applications without detailed drawings. Government policy is to encourage pre-application meetings to speed up the Planning process, with many local authorities re-enforcing this within their charters. A polite reminder to the planners of their obligations as public servants often helps.

What happens during a Planning Application?

The process of Planning Applications may differ between local authorities, but usually to begin with, the drawings are submitted along with the fee, and the application is checked and returned for amendment if more details are required. If accepted, it is entered into a statutory register, marking the beginning of an 8 week period of consideration. Where an authority is unable to consider it within 8 weeks, an extension of time will be requested, usually on the condition that if this extension is not granted, the application will be refused.

If the application is not contended it is usually passed to a planning officer to be granted. Applications which are contended will be presented to a planning committee and a public consultation will take place, which usually lasts three weeks and depends on the impact of the development and the type of area, but will always include immediate neighbours. Next, the Planning Officer will assess the development against the Authority’s policies and will either make a decision in accordance with their powers in non-contentious cases, or produce a recommendation for the committee. Other regulations and consents to be considered include Conservation Areas (a conservation officer will usually be part of the process); Listed Building Consent (for extensions or alterations); Tree Protection Orders; Public Rights of Way and wildlife protection.