Advice hub

10 action points before you submit your planning application

Dec 10, 2018

A residential planning application sets out the design and scale of a new development in context with the site and location. The planning officer’s job is to ensure the proposal is in line with planning policy and relates to its immediate surroundings without adverse effect.

1. Check what’s already been agreed
Full consent is for a specific design, but outline consent gives you scope to change the design. Read the consent details carefully to make sure your alternative approach still complies and check the expiry date. Also study historical, refused applications to make sure you present yours in the best light.

2. Tackle (possible) objections before they arise
Once the council receives your application, they will inform all those who have a vested interest, such as neighbours, the Parish council, Highways Agency, tree officer, ecologist, conservation officer. Your design, and design statement, should be prepared with consideration to queries that might arise, as listed below. You may also need to commission relevant surveys.
• House design – bulk, height, size, appearance, materials
• Impact on neighbours – loss of light, loss of privacy, loss of views, overshadowing, overlooking
• Highways – safe access, parking, turning
• Ecology – loss of trees, evidence of protected species
• Conservation – effect on a listed building, in a conservation area, possible archaeology site

3. Have a good look around your plot
Trees close to where you want to build will need a tree survey to determine those to stay and those to be cut down. Be aware some trees are protected under a Tree Preservation Order and a list can be obtained from the council. The presence of protected species (bats, newts, badgers etc) and rare plants will require an ecological survey.  The Environment Agency flood maps (flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk) will determine if you’re in a flood zone, in which case you’ll need a risk assessment.

4. Chat to neighbours
It’s good manners to let neighbours know of your plans before the council issues a formal notice. Show them the drawings and explain what you intend to do. This gives them a chance to voice any concerns, which you may be able to alleviate by way of explanation, or nip in the bud with a design change. Of course, if neighbours love your project, they could be an asset to get you through planning!

5. Arrange a pre-application meeting
This is a chance to chat through your ideas with a planning officer and show them a sketch of your project. They won’t be able to commit to a positive outcome but you should use this valuable time to find out if they have any major concerns. Advice now could save time later and avoid a costly re-design further down the line.

6. Agree the external materials
You’ll be asked to state the external materials (windows, doors, walls, roof coverings) you intend to use. Some councils impose a condition to see samples for approval after you’ve been given planning consent. You might be able to avoid this if you provide detailed information at the outset.

7. Don’t ignore the details
Foul drainage – it’s not enough to say your foul drainage will connect to the mains you may also need to prove you won’t need to cross neighbouring land to reach it Surface water – stating it will be removed into a soakaway won’t be sufficient if the site is heavy clay soil
Parking – check the council’s website for how many spaces are required for your house size and the dimensions needed for each bay

8. Use an expert if you need to
Your architect or designer can manage the planning process for you. At Welsh Oak Frame we have a sound track record for securing customer planning permissions, and expertise in local planning policy. Involving us throughout the entire design process gives your project the best chance to achieve consent.

9. Decide if a planning consultant is necessary
If you have a specific concern about your application – perhaps there’s been a historical planning refusal or you’re building in a conservation area – then a planning consultant with specialist expertise could give you the extra support you need.

10. Complete the paperwork correct first time
Download the paperwork from your local council’s website or complete the information online through the Planning Portal (planningportal.co.uk). Choose the right application for your project – a second application is needed for listed buildings or in conservation areas. Don’t forget to attach all the supporting documents and pay the fee. Once your application is validated, you should receive a response within eight weeks to ten weeks.