What is planning permission?

Planning permission is the formal permission from your local authority for you to carry out building or renovation work on your land or property. Planning permissions will be granted, subject to certain conditions, or refused.

When do I need planning permission?

You’ll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • Build something new
  • Make a big change to your existing building (such as an extension)
  • Change the use of your building.

However, Not all building work requires planning permission. Some 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.

Your builder or architect can help guide you on whether you’ll need planning permission for your project or not. There’s also a really handy tool on The Planning Portal – the Government’s official planning website – with guidance for common projects. However, if there is any doubt whatsoever, it’s best to contact your local planning authority (LPA).

If your project does need planning permission but you fail to secure it before you start work, you can be served with an enforcement notice ordering you to undo all the changes you’ve made.

How do I go about getting planning permission?

If you do need to secure planning permission, you apply to the relevant local planning authority. The easiest way to apply for is online via The Planning Portal – it’s likely to save you money and paperwork. You’ll still need to provide various pieces of supporting information including plans or drawings. The application process will guide you through what you need to include.

In most cases, there will be a fee which must be paid when you submit your application. It’s a good idea to confirm this fee with your local planning authority before you submit your application – if you include the wrong fee, your application might be delayed.

Your architect and builder can help prepare the documentation you need for a successful planning application. Some will even take care of the full planning permission process for you.

What’s the process for getting planning permission?

Your local planning authority will confirm receipt of your application and you should then receive a written approval or refusal within eight weeks. During this time, neighbours and local people have the opportunity to object. These objections may or may not have any impact on the final decision.

Planning permission is usually granted for three years, meaning you need to start work within that time. Once planning permission has been granted, you can make minor alterations by applying for non-material amendment. If you want to make major changes, you may have to apply for full planning permission again. You can submit multiple planning applications on any site and then choose which one to use.

What if planning permission is refused?

If your local planning authority refuses your planning application, they must give written reasons. You may be able to come to an agreement with them by adjusting your plans. If you can’t reach an agreement, you can launch an appeal, but this should be treated as a last resort and can take several months.