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Planning Permission Process Guide


Planning permission is asking if you can do a certain piece of building work, be this a single storey or double storey extension to your house or a new build site for a major developer. It will be granted, subject to certain conditions or refused. The government has set out its rules on determining planning applications called the national planning policy framework. Local authorities or planning development control have their own local plans. You can find your LPA (local planning authority) on the planning portal and then search for the local development plan. This will give you full details on specific areas and any forth coming plans or restrictions.

The planning application process

Planning applications have a straightforward journey to approval. Understanding where you are in that process helps you know what responses you can make…

1. Planning application is submitted to the local planning authority

2. The application plans, forms, fee and associated documents are checked and validated

3. Once validated a letter with the determination date is posted to the agent with case officer details and reference number

4. The planning authority publicises the application, in the newspaper, on lamp posts, by letter to neighbours and perhaps elsewhere

5. Other consultees are informed such as water board, highways etc

6. The public has a few weeks to comment on the application

7. Determination usually begins 2 weeks before the decisions date once all comments are in

8. The decision will be issued typically 8 weeks from validation

Most planning applications are approved. But if the application is refused, or the approval has conditions on it, the applicant may appeal against the decision to the Secretary of State. If you have only heard about a development you’re concerned about after a planning application has been submitted, don’t delay in getting involved.

See our tailored guides on ExtensionsNew BuildBarn Conversions and Loft Conversions

Planning considerations

The focus of the development management section in the council is the granting of planning permission where they meet the requirements of the Local Plan and national planning guidelines.

Certain types of work are covered by what’s called ‘Permitted Development’. This means that they can be carried out without planning permission, as long as they comply with the Permitted Development rules and restrictions. There are however situations where your permitted Development rights may have been modified or removed. This can be the case on some of the larger scale housing developments. If you are unsure if your Permitted Development rights have been removed, you can contact your local Planning office to check if you need planning permission.

Parliament has given the main responsibility for planning to local planning authorities. Therefore, if you have any queries about a case, the first thing to do is to contact your local planning office. You may also be able to find out more about planning law in your local library, or via the Planning Portal.

Planning applications are decided in line with the development plan unless there are very good reasons not to do so. There are many issues that the Planning Officers will need to consider when reviewing your application. With particular reference to householder applications, this may include some of the following:

  • Size
  • Layout
  • Siting and external appearance of buildings and extensions.
  • The effect of your proposals on any neighbouring properties.
  • Proposed means of access, landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood.
  • Proposed use of the development.

It is not necessary to make the application yourself. If you wish, you can appoint an agent (for instance, an architect, a surveyor, or a builder) to make it for you.

Anyone can make an application, irrespective of who owns the land or buildings concerned. However, if you are not the owner, or if you have only part-ownership, you must inform the owner or those who share ownership, including any leaseholder whose lease still has seven or more years to run, and any agricultural tenant.

What is a building notice?

You can carry out certain types of building work on your home or property without needing to apply for Planning Permission. This is called “Permitted Development Rights”. Generally, Permitted Developments cover minor extensions, demolition and certain changes of use, such as a loft, garage or cellar conversions. Most houses have PD rights, however flats and maisonettes do not so you would need to apply for full planning permission. PD rights are also reduced in conservation arears, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty.

So what type of work can you carry out under permitted development?


  • Extend your property by 4m to the rear with a single storey extension or 3m with a double extension. Height and rear boundary restrictions apply (this is currently under review by the government, who have suggested doubling these limits).
  • The extension must not cover more than half of the garden or go forward of the building line of the original building.
  • It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing property
  • Side extensions are permitted but subject to height and width restrictions.

Loft Conversions

  • The loft can be converted to living accommodation.
  • The roof can be extended by up to 40m-cubed for terraces or 50m-cubed for semi-detached and detached properties.
  • Dormers and roof windows can be added but must not extend beyond the plane of the roof slope at the front of the house.
  • Side-facing windows must be obscure-glazed.

Do I need planning permission?

You will need planning permission if you want to build a new structure, make a major change to an existing structure, or change the use of a building. If you want to find out if you require Planning Permission then send us your details.

Still have a few questions?

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