Planning Permission: Everything you Need to Know

The planning system in the UK is designed to allow for the improvement of the towns, cities and countryside while preserving our heritage. Planning permission rules are controlled by the government, but your local authority decides whether your building work can go ahead.

There are certain types of building work that will require planning permission, and it’s your responsibility to get the permission from your local authority before the work begins.

Find out everything you need to know about planning permission so your building project runs smoothly from start to finish.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

All being well, a normal planning application for a loft conversion or an extension should take 8 weeks.

Local authorities have to make a decision on an application by this time unless it is a complex application. In this case, the limit rises to 13 weeks.

There are a few things you should do to prepare for your planning application:

  • Hire a surveyor and get drawings of your property prepared along with your proposal for the work
  • Support your application with a Design Access Statement which outlines the considerations you have made about the layout, volume, materials and impact of your proposal in line with the rules set by your local authority
  • Allow 4-10 weeks to make decisions as you will need to be certain about them. You should expect the time from the design work to the final decision on your planning application to be at least 5 months.
planning permission drawings
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What factors will have an effect on my application?

  • Design: The quality of the design and whether it is similar to the other properties around yours
  • Impact: The impact of the size and layout of your proposal on your neighbours
  • Neighbours: If they raise any objections this will affect your proposal
  • Planners will consider the impact your proposal will have on people in the future, whether they are future owners or people living in the area. Unfortunately, even if your neighbours are happy with the plans this isn’t enough to get your application approved.

    Special considerations

    If you live in a Conservation Area or you live in a listed building, you will have more conditions set out by your local authority and other associations like English Heritage.

    It’s best to check with your local authority if you’re unsure of the rules with your property.

    Things to remember about planning permission

    Planning departments are understaffed
    You’re not likely to get much pre-planning advice as most local planning departments are too busy.

    There’s a national shortage of qualified planners, so if your planning officer leaves halfway through your application process this can cause problems. Remember, though, local authorities must make a decision in 8 weeks.

    Planning rules are subjective
    Although there are rules, they can be interpreted differently. If a planner doesn’t agree with your proposal, it will be refused even if you think you have followed all of the guidelines.

    An application can be emotional
    It’s a great idea to keep your neighbours informed in person rather than just letting them hear about your building work from the council.

    Most people are more worried about the noise from builders than what your proposal is going to look like.

    Why is it important to get planning permission?

    If you’re taking out loans to help pay for your project, it’s standard practice for lenders to ask for evidence of planning permission before giving you access to the full funds.

    Also, if you want to sell your property in the future, you will have to prove that you have followed all the planning laws. If your local authority finds out that you have had work done without getting planning permission they will often ask that you take down the work.

    There are some minor developments that might be covered by Permitted Development, such as conservatories. If your work falls within these guidelines then you won’t need to get planning permission, so it’s always worth checking before you make an application.

    Emily Rivers

    Emily Rivers is the Customer Experience Manager at Quotatis. She informs customers of the latest developments in a range of products so they can make the best choice for their homes and ensures they get the best out of our service.