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Planning permission – what you need to know!

29 July 19 Author:Michelle Gaffaney

The words planning permission make most people shudder and it is no wonder with all the rules you have to abide by! That is why we have put together some advice to help the process seem a little less daunting for you!

Planning permission is about where your going to build, and the impact it will have on the surrounding environment and others around you. The decision about whether your plans are granted, or rejected are made by the local council. The council come to this decision by listening to the guidance of council planning officers. There is also a chief planning officer that can make this decision on their own, but it is rare this happens, instead they generally make recommendations to the council that are then upheld.


Different types!

There are 7 different types of planning permission you may come across;

  • Outline – this is when you are just making initial enquiries as to whether a plan may be possible but a drawing hasn’t been done, or submitted yet. If they get granted these only last 5 years.
  • Full application – This agrees that you can build what you want, as it covers the initial application as well as a more detailed application. These applications last 3 years.
  • Approval – This is where you convert an outline permission into a detailed permission.
  • Renewal – It may be that after doing your initial agreement you don’t end up going ahead with the plans at that time. You then need to ask to renewal or extend the end date of the application, or if it has expired you will have to start all over again.
  • Relaxation – This is when you already have planning permission but with a lot of conditions added on, you can apply to have some of these conditions removed. However, bare in mind it is rare these applications are successful.
  • Amendments – If you buy a plot that already has planning permission on but the plans are not exactly to your liking, you can apply to have them amended. This saves on having to start a new application and on costs, as currently there is no charge for amendments.
  • Extensions/Conversions – It may not be necessary to have planning permission to extend or convert part of your property, but it is always best to check what the restrictions are before proceeding. You can do this either by visiting, or your architect can do this for you.

What is needed?

There are a lot of forms and some costs when it comes to applying for planning permission, this can vary for different councils but generally you will need the following information:

  • Existing site plans
  • A proposed site plan
  • A location plan
  • Layout plans
  • Elevations of any existing structures or proposed dwellings
  • A list of materials to be used
  • A list of any trees that are to be felled
  • A design and access statement
  • A 3D drawing of the build (not always required)
  • An ownership certificate (or proof the owner is aware of your intentions)


The cost for the application will depend upon the size of the plot, currently for a detailed or full planning application in England it is £462 per 0.1 hectare. For a householder application, needed for an extension, the cost is £206. Be aware that additional costs can be incurred on top of this though.

Decision Timings:

Generally an application should take up to 8 weeks, however this can take much longer, which obviously can be very frustrating. The government do put some pressure on to speed the planning process up, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing as planners will then rush their decisions. Applications are then at a higher risk of being rejected, because rather then investigate further those applications of high concern are just being rejected.

Likeliness of getting a ‘Yes’?

It is hard to give a figure but on average 1 in 3 applications are rejected. To increase your chances of getting an approval remember to be flexible. If any issues are flagged up be willing to make a compromise to get the application through. Some reasons you may have your application rejected are:

  • Property is too big
  • Lack of parking
  • No room for a car to turn around
  • Not enough garden
  • Property is too high
  • The property overlooks neighbours
  • They don’t approve of the materials you want to use
  • The property isn’t in keeping with the neighbourhood
  • The property is in the wrong position on the plot


What to do if you are ‘rejected’?

This doesn’t necessarily mean an end to your plans, you can contact the council and try to convince them that your plans should be approved and see if they can/will overrule the original decision. You could also see if you can get any support from your neighbours to add to your case. Or you could appeal the decision that has been made, this is free but could take 6 months or so. You need to tell them why you feel the decision was wrong and then an independent architect will visit the plot to make a decision themselves. Around 1 in 3 appeals are successful. Alternatively, you could submit a new application addressing all the concerns originally raised.


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Michelle Gaffaney
Michelle Gaffaney - Architectural Director
With a wealth of experience working on a range of projects, Michelle Gaffaney has a passion for design and strong relationships with her clients. Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn