Planning applications

Although the planning and licensing are totally separate regimes, they do overlap in a number of areas and often both permissions are required to allow for the same end use.

Do you need Planning Permission?

As a rule of thumb Planning permission or Planning Approval is needed when you are looking to:

  • Construct a new building;
  • Make a major change to an existing building (e.g. build an extension);
  • Change the use of a building.

The planning system is becoming increasingly complex, even for those who are familiar with planning. Our domestic & residential planning experts have a broad experience of dealing in all types planning applications and can help guide your project through the planning process to achieve the best outcome for you.

Acting for you would be someone who not only is a Planner, but who also has extensive and current experience in council planning departments actually dealing with applications. Our planners are able to represent your interests as well considering any issues that may be of concern to councillors on the planning committee. This means that we are able to identify the strengths of your planning applications and know how to overcome any weaknesses.

Planning applications are needed for changes of use (e.g. retail to leisure), removal of restrictions or extensions of the trading area of the premises.

Our team works closely with our licensing team who will advise about the correct permissions should be obtained.

Why do I need a Planning Application?

The Planning system is designed to stop inappropriate development. Whilst planning guidance (both local and national) stops a lot of development it is also there, in theory, to allow sustainable development – in fact, there is now a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

Local councils are responsible for three key elements of the planning system:

  • They must all have an up-to-date development plan;
  • They must within their plans identify at lest 5 years supply of zoned housing sites;
  • They must determine planning applications within set time periods.

Unfortunately, many councils do not achieve either of these three key elements. That can make it easier to get planning applications through. More on that later.

Do I need to make a Planning Application?

More and more small scale developments are covered under permitted development and do not require a planning application. They do however require a lawful development certificate in many cases. So what sort of developments do and do not require a planning application?

If you want to build a new house or office or make a major change to your home you will almost certainly need to make a planning application.

Some common projects that don’t need a Planning Application:

Extensions and conservatories

Extensions and conservatories are generally considered to be permitted development, however there are some rules of thumb that apply:

  • It must not be higher than the original building;
  • Materials must be the same or similar;
  • It cannot cover more than half the land (as it was when built);
  • Single storey extensions must not be higher than four metres, at the rear must not extend beyond the rear wall by more than three metres and to the side no more than half the width of the house;
  • Double storey extensions must not be less than 7m from the rear boundary;
  • No balconies or roof terraces;
  • Upper floor glazing must be opaque.

Garages, sheds and other outbuildings

Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development. That includes sheds and garages. They must be less than 4 metres tall and take up less than half the land. Some local authorities have restrictions on proximity to boundaries.

Paving over the front garden

Porous materials are ok; impermeable surfaces, greater than 5sq m require planning permission.

Listed buildings

ANY changes to listed buildings need Listed Building Consent (effectively planning permission).

External walls and roof

Maintenance is always ok however if you are changing the appearance of a listd building, or a building within a conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty you will need planning permission.

Solar panels

Solar panels do not require planning permission unless you live in a listed property.

Fences, gates, and walls

Planning permission is necessary for any fence, gate, or wall:

  • Next to a road and over 1 metre high;
  • Over 2 metres and not next to a road;
  • If your house is listed;
  • If it forms a boundary with a listed building.

How long does it take?

Planning applications should be determined within 13 weeks. This often does not occur and there are means, to be avoided if possible, to get determination in 13 weeks. Council planning Departments are stretched. At Planning Direct, we aim to give council planning departments all relevant information for an application on day one so that your planning application gets to the top of the pile. Making a good accurate application is critical to getting approval and planning permission in good time.

What can go wrong?

Well, very little with our applications but objections (a legitimate part of the planning process) can make things difficult. However, we employ a number of techniques to minimise objections where appropriate.

What if I don’t get planning permission?

We rarely has applications refused, however, we often deal with clients who have had applications refused when using another consultant or architect.

Often we can negotiate the issue with the council, get to the bottom of it and quickly get the matter resolved. If we believe the council has erred, or we spot a weakness in their position (see more below) and they won’t back down, we go to appeal. Please click here for more information.

Who Decides?

The decision as to whether your planning application is approved or not is typically made by either the chief planning officer, using delegated powers on behalf of the planning committee, or by the planning committee itself. Once we have determined who will be making the decision, we can work to glean from them the key issues that must be met and resolved in order to ensure that your planning application is approved, and avoid any planning objections being raised.

Our Approach

Gaining planning permission and approval is also a highly political process, so our unique politico-emotional approach is essential in making sure that your planning application is approved. By talking with local politicians, neighbours and the parish council, we are best able to accommodate any concerns they may have relating to your specific design, and work to get them on your side. It’s important to note that planning officers will often be taking a substantial risk by approving a planning application (and none whatsoever by declining it), so every advantage counts towards ensuring a positive outcome.

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