The simple guide to making a planning application

An image of blue printsGet the planning application right the first time

Planning permission is the bane of construction. When you want to build something new; make a major change to a building; or even change the use of a building, you’ll have to submit an application and wait for approval before you can start. While it can take a long time to get the green light, you can significantly speed up the process by ensuring all of your documentation is in order.

Failure to acquire planning permission could result in an “enforcement notice,” which means you’ll have to either shut down until permission is granted, or completely close the operation and undo all of the changes.

The first steps

Before you start getting all of your documents together, check with your local planning authority (LPA) to find out whether or not you’ll need permission. Some structures, such as free standing buildings and industrial warehouses may not require approval in the first place. This is known as “permitted development rights.” If your LPA says that you don’t need permission, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and get written confirmation.

If you are planning a building project that benefits, and is supported by the local community, then you won’t have to go through the standard planning permission process. In these circumstances your local council may grant you immediate permission to build.

Required documentation

Most planning permission applications will require two plans; the location plan and the site plan. The location plan shows the general site surroundings and can be purchased online through the planning portal as part of the application. The site plan (aka the block plan) shows the proposed development in detail.

Other mandatory documents could include the relevant ownership certificate; agricultural certificate; design and access statement; and application fee. The exact documentation requirements can vary from county to county, so always contact your LPA beforehand to get a list of any specific documents that you may need. Or, if you are applying online, this list is available via a link on the right-hand side of the “supporting documents” screen in the application portal.

The assessment

Your LPA will decide whether or not to grant you permission based on your development plan. They will look at everything from the size and layout to the visual aesthetic properties; therefore, your development plan must be as through as possible. In addition, they will also take the surrounding infrastructure into account – roads and water supply – to ensure completion of the project is not only possible, but doesn’t disrupt other properties.

If all of the required documentation is included within the application, you should have a decision within 8 weeks; however, if you are planning an unusually large structure or if there are a large amount of applications to process, you could have to wait for 13 weeks. If the decision takes any longer, you have the right to appeal. This may give your application special priority and therefore, speed up the process.

Appealing a rejection

Contrary to popular belief a rejection isn’t a be-all and end-all. In the majority of circumstances the LPA will suggest certain adjustments to your plan. If you can reach an agreement within your allotted time limit, then you can appeal and still receive permission.

You can only appeal planning permission if your LPA refuses your application; grants permission with conditions that you object to; refuses permission for a structure you were previously told to build by the LPA; or serves you an enforcement notice for breaking planning guidelines.

Applying online

The fastest and easiest way to submit an application is by using to online government planning portal. This allows you to directly apply to every local authority in England and Wales, which could save you both time and money.

Follow all of the rules and provide the right documentation from the start and there’s no reason why your application won’t be successful. If in doubt, companies such as the Architects Corporation can perform an assessment of your property and guide you in the right direction.

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