Your Guide - Planning Permission







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If you have never carried out a renovation project, planning permission can fill you with apprehension. Here is our simple guide to planning permission to guide you through the process. 

We cover off everything including how much planning permission will cost, when you normally don't need planning permission, how long planning permission takes to be granted and how long planning permission lasts.

If you are thinking about a renovation project in the near future and need some help finding an architect or designer, we can match you with the most suitable ones for your project.

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What is planning permission?

Planning permission is granted permission to carry out work to your property. It is your local planning authority who will grant you approval.

You normally need to get planning permission if you are carrying out the following: 

  • Making a major change to a building
  • Building something new
  • Changing the use of a building

Some projects don't require planning permission and fall under permitted development.

When is planning permission required?

There are many types of development where planning permission is not required and are within permitted development, normally those that are deemed to have no impact on your neighbours and the environment around you. 

Thanks to the relaxed permitted development rules, you can often carry out a decent sized extension without having to apply for planning permission. Some of the examples include:

  • Single storey extension of up to 6 metres for an attached property and 8 metres for a detached
  • Two storey extension of up to 3 metres
  • Most velux and dormer loft conversions of less than 40 cubic metres for an attached and 50 cubic metres for a detached
  • Most garage conversions
  • New windows and doors
  • Internal re-modelling

Note that there are some circumstances that you will always need planning permission, such as if you live in a conservation area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a flat or a maisonette. Contact your local planning authority to confirm on your particular area.

Even though the dimensions of your project may fall within permitted development, you may want to go ahead and apply for planning permission to give you more options on the design of your project; permitted development can be limiting in terms of the style and materials used.

What if you don't think you need planning permission?

If you don't think you need planning permission, it's still best chatting to your local planning authority to confirm. 

A lawful development certificate can be granted to confirm that your renovation was lawful, this is useful when you come to sell your home or if there is any doubt in the future that your work was within permitted development.

If you are carrying out a single storey rear extensions of greater than 4 metres and up to 8 metres for a detached, or greater than 3 metres and up to 6 metres for all others, you must still go through the prior approval process, where you must apply to your local authority who will consult your neighbours under the neighbourhood consultation scheme. If your neighbours object, then you will need to go through the planning permission process.

Many renovators do still go through the process of planning permission, even though the work may fall within permitted development. As you will likely have design drawings and structural drawings, for building regulations and for your builder to work off of, it often isn't too much extra hassle to go through planning if you have most of the paper work in place, particularly if you have the time. It also clears up any uncertainty.

How do I get planning permission?

For a fee (which varies depending on council), your local council will offer pre-application advice which will give feedback on what you can or can’t get planning permission for and on changes to you may wish to make. This is invaluable and highly recommended if your plans are not straightforward.

You can apply for planning permission online at the planning portal

Most renovators get their architect to apply for planning permission on their behalf, their fee is normally included in the overall cost of their work, including the designs.

What if I don't get planning permission and go ahead with the work?

You can be served an enforcement notice which may require you to undo the work that you have done.

How much does planning permission cost?

The fee varies between location across the UK and the nature of the application. In England, the fee for an alternation or extension is £206 and full application for a new home is £462. The fees vary slightly in Scotland, Ireland and Wales but are within the same cost bracket.

When considering how much planning permission costs, it's important to factor in the costs of an architect or other professional to help with the plans and apply for planning permission on your behalf. You can apply for planning permission by yourself but most people find it easier to get a planner or architect to do it on their behalf.

To find out more about the total planning costs that should be taken into account, read our helpful article How Much Does Planning Permission Cost.

How do I make sure my planning permission application is successful?

There are several ways to make sure your planning application is successful and approved on the first application and runs smoothly, including:

  • Work with your architect / town planner who will have experience in your local area 
  • Get pre-application advice from your local planning authority. It might feel like an extra step in the process but it's worth getting advice on what you can and can't get planning permission for and also what changes you may make to wish. This will be for a fee which varies depending on the council.
  • Chat to your neighbours early on in the process regarding your proposed plans. Although it's the local planning authority that make the planning application decision, they may take your neighbours comments into consideration depending on their relevance.
  • Make sure that your renovation is in keeping with the local area, including materials and design. The local authority will take into account the appearance and size of your renovation when considering whether they should grant planning permission.

What if my planning permission is rejected?

If your plan is rejected then you should try to work with your local planning authority for approval by modifying your plans. If your application is still rejected then you can appeal, however it's worth noting that many appeals are unsuccessful, so resubmitting your plans with recommended changes is often the best route.

We have a really useful expert advice article on planning application appeals, so worth reading if your planning permission is rejected.

How long does planning permission take?

Planning permission should take no more than 8 weeks to be granted and there is a maximum limit of 13 weeks in England for large, complex projects. Your local authority should notify you if it's going to take longer than the 8 week period.

How long does planning permission last?

Planning permission lasts 3 years from the date of approval. You will need to submit the plans again if you take longer than this.

What other permissions will I require?

Depending on your type of property and the work you are carrying out you may need to get approval from your neighbours under the Party Wall Act (only applicable in England and Wales). Check out our article expert advice - party wall act if you need some more information.

You must always comply with building regulations even if you don't need planning permission.

Is planning permission required for a garage conversion?

Planning permission is not normally required for a garage conversion as you are not normally changing the structure. However, restrictions will include some of the circumstances that we have mentioned above, including whether you love in a conservation area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a flat or a maisonette. 

It's popular to convert a garage to new build properties but do make sure there are no restrictive covenants on your property. 

Is planning permission required for a loft conversion?

Planning permission is not normally required for a loft conversion. Here are the main restrictions to look out for:

  • Your loft is less than 40 cubic metres in a terraced house and less than 50 cubic metres in a semi-detached or detached house
  • Your loft conversion doesn’t extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope at the front of the house
  • Your loft conversion does not extend higher than the highest part of the existing roof
  • If the material of the conversion is different to the existing property or if you are incorporating a balcony, veranda or terrace

As before, particular kinds of homes such as flats or in a designated area like a conservation area will always require planning permission. Always check with your local authority for the list of requirements.

Is planning permission required for a conservatory?

Planning permission is not normally required for a conservatory and it falls under the general planning permission requirements for an extension. Given that conservatories are normally not large in size, are to the rear of the property, and are single storey, then it's likely that they are within planning permission The main restrictions to look out for include:

  • Your extension should be less than half the area of land around the original house. Double check if there have been any extensions carried out before you owned the property.
  • A single storey extension for an attached property by 6 metres and detached property by 8 metres. If it's more than a single storey, you cannot extend beyond 3 metres.
  • The height of a single storey extension can be up to 4 metres within permitted development
  • The material of the extension is in keeping with the original style. Similarly, the new roof pitch must match the original style in a one storey extension.

As before, particular kinds of homes such as flats or in a designated area like a conservation area will always require planning permission.

Published: October 3, 2021

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