Below are a few of the questions that we get frequently asked by our clients.

Do I need planning permission?

Many householder development projects don’t need a formal planning application to the local Council because national regulations are in place that automatically permit certain sized/positioned schemes – what is termed ‘permitted development’.

A whole range of building operations are covered including house extensions, roof lights, dormer windows, garages and outbuildings etc.

It is always worth looking to see what you can do using permitted development rights. Even if you don’t end up using them, they establish what is known as the ‘fall back’ position and can be utilised in negotiations with the Council for what you really want.

Do I need an architect for my project?

The short answer is not necessarily. People often think that very detailed (and expensive) drawings are required for planning. But that is not always the case, particularly if an outline application is being applied for.

We frequently find that when clients approach us, they are lining up architects used to submit detailed drawings for Building Regulation approval. This level of detail is not usually required for planning purposes, where a much cheaper and straightforward type of illustration could suffice. As with everything else in the planning application package, we adopt a proportionate approach. Money should be conserved and only spent on items that will add value at the planning stage.

How long does it take to get permission and how much does it cost?

Most planning applications are decided within 8 weeks, unless they are unusually large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks.

Householder applications for home improvements cost £206. A full application for a new single dwelling in England costs £462.

What factors guide the Council’s decision on my application? And how can I improve my chances of success?

The main factor in planning decisions are the policies in the Council’s Local Plan for the area. Legally, decisions are required to be based on these policies unless there are compelling reasons to depart from them.

A well-presented proposal, supported by objective evidence about its impacts/merits (good and bad) and references to the Plan and other planning factors, gives you the best chance of success.

The planning application process can at times look like a bit daunting to anyone having first contact with the system. Knowledge of the Local Plan and supporting guidance helps as can pre-application advice, but there is no substitute for presenting the Council with a well-argued case based on good planning grounds.

What happens if the Council refuses my application?

In England around 75% of applications are granted, but sometimes things don’t go your way. If so, you need to review the Council’s reasons for turning your scheme down and see if these are reasonable. If so, a redesign might be possible or a resubmission clarifying an issue with more design detail or related information.

If not, it is open for you to appeal to the The Planning Inspectorate who work independently from the Council and are a government executive agency.

If you think there is mileage in resubmitting a revised scheme, my advice would be to do so within 12 months from the date of the planning decision as you won’t have to pay the Council a further planning application Fee. This can often be the best way forward rather than jumping straight to appeal.