What tips can help my application get through the planning process?
Seeking planning permission can be a stressful process, and expensive if it’s done wrong. Greg reveals steps you can take to get the result you want
Planning policy exists to protect everybody from inappropriate development. Ignoring it can result in money wasted on application and appeal processes, only for you to end up with the scheme you should have submitted in the first place. To prevent this, take advice from architects and planning consultants who have day-to-day experience of what is likely to be granted permission.
Do you need planning?
You could save time and money by designing a scheme that could be undertaken under permitted development (PD). This is essentially a list of things you can do to your property without formal planning permission – go to planningportal.co.uk and get familiar with what is included. A Certificate of Lawfulness is an optional legal document you can apply for which confirms that you didn’t need planning for the work, and is helpful when reselling the property.
If your proposals fall outside of PD you will need to decide what kind of application to make. It is normal to go for Householder Planning Consent or Full Planning Consent. Other options are Outline Planning Consent, which helps agree basic principles of the development, or pre-application advice, whereby you can consult with a planning officer who can highlight any potential problems before you go ahead with submitting the application. The latter two are more collaborative ways to arrive at planning permission but will take longer.
Look into what local and national planning policies will allow and you’ll have a stronger chance of getting permission. This is why doing the research (or employing someone who already has policy knowledge to apply for you) and submitting for Full/householder Planning Consent is the most common route. Policy documents are published online. Look out for supplementary planning guides on council websites covering what is acceptable in your area. More obvious checks are for whether the property is listed, or in a flood zone or Conservation Area, all of which will influence your design. If your house is older, there may be some existing outlines you can follow, such as a demolished outbuilding.
A lot of planning policy is geared towards protecting neighbours from over-development, over-shadowing, parking issues, loss of sunlight and loss of amenity. Consider them when coming up with your design and you’ll have an easier ride through planning and less hostile neighbours at the end.
‘look into what planning policies will allow for a stronger chance of permission’
Make sure the drawings of your plans are easy to understand and represent your scheme in its best light. Add a design statement that can be used to justify your scheme and explain the policies that you considered. Drawings must be to scale and include a scale bar and north point or they will be sent back. Building something different to what you submitted in the application can result in the planners taking enforcement action, demanding the building be altered or even demolished.
Keep in contact
Maintain communication with the planning case officer, but don’t pester them. Make contact in the final week of the statutory eight weeks to ensure it is decided in time, to gauge whether you will get permission or not, and give you the chance to make amendments to tip the decision in your favour.