Applying for planning permission - a step by step guide

Are you thinking of embarking on a building project? Not sure how and if you need to apply for planning permission? Our step by step guide will help make things clearer and help you avoid any pitfalls.

1. Is it necessary?

The need for planning permission can vary, depending on the nature of the work you want to carry out.  Generally, minor alterations, such as retiling a roof, aren’t subject to planning permission whereas larger structural work, like building an extension, needs one.  If your property is a listed building, you’ll probably have to apply to carry out any external or internal work, however minor.  If you’re in any doubt, call your local council and ask to speak to a planning officer or contact BRD Tech on the telephone number shown.  Also, if your builder or conservatory/double-glazing company assures you that planning permission isn’t necessary, don’t take their word for it.  As a rule of thumb, always check with your council before you start work.  If planning permission is required on work that has already begun, you may be forced to stop and even knock down anything completed.  If you have to apply for retrospective permission, it could result in the loss of a sale on your property.

2.  Which application should I choose?

You can appoint a company such as BRD Tech to apply on your behalf, but if you choose to do it yourself, you’ll need to ask your local planning authority (LPA) for an application form; your LPA is usually your local council.  You can also apply online through the Planning Portal (http://www.planningportal.gov.uk).  For extensions and alterations to your house or to build something in your garden (other than a house), you can use the householder application form.  Try to give as much information as possible, such as details of the materials you intend to use, as this could remove the need for conditions of acceptance, thereby avoiding delays further down the line.

3.  How long does it usually take?

It can take up to eight weeks for a council to decide on an application, sometimes longer depending on the complexity of the job.  If the LPA requires an extension beyond the eight-week mark, it must receive your written consent.

4.  How much is it?

Prices vary according to the project, but for example, the application cost for an extension on a house in England is around £150.  Residents of Wales should be aware that costs in this part of the UK are higher; the same application for an extension in Wales would cost £159.  Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own systems; if you live in either of those areas, contact your local authority for details.

5.  What if I’m refused?

You should get a reply from the LPA within eight weeks.  The LPA will either approve your application, approve it with conditions, or refuse it.  If you receive approval with conditions, you’ll have to contact the LPA again for approval before starting work – you’ll have 12 months’ time to do this.  If permission is refused or if you aren’t happy with the conditions, you have the right to appeal.  However, do try and negotiate with the LPA beforehand as an appeal can be a lengthy process.

6.  How to appeal?

If you choose to appeal, you must do so within six months.  There is no fee for an appeal.  Be thorough, but concise.  Include all necessary documents (contact your case officer at the planning inspectorate for details), or the six-month deadline may expire before your appeal is dealt with.  The inspectorate will review your appeal and make a decision, which cannot be appealed against.  The rules differ slightly between England and Wales – contact the inspectorate in your region for details.

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