The Planning Process
The planning process can be complex and confusing but fear not! We will navigate the legislation for you. However, with permitted development allowing a greater range of works in recent years, it may well be that you don't actually need permission to do what you want. Click here for information on Permitted Development.
Planning permission is required for the more ambitious extensions and alterations. Each planning authority works from centrally produced planning guidance legislation but each have their own slightly different interpretation of it.
There are understandably more demanding rules for development in Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and also for Listed Buildings.
Despite popular belief, precedent (what has been done in the vicinity) is seldom a good reason for approval. Every application is judged on its own merits and detrimental effects.
Information we submit to planning
Once we have finalised the design with yourselves and have prepared the drawings, we will put together a planning application pack which will include:
- Site Location Plan
- Site Plan showing existing layout
- Floor Plans showing existing layout
- Elevations showing existing property from all sides
- Floor Plans showing proposed arrangement
- Elevations showing new design from all sides
Sometimes we may need to include a Design and Access statement which goes into some detail on the justification of the works and how the proposal responds to the neighbouring properties/area. It will include details of the kinds of materials you wish to use and why.
Another consideration for the authority is the effect on vehicular access to the site and any effect on public rights of way etc.So once the pack is collated, we will then submit the application on your behalf through the 'Planning Portal'. This is an online portal which all the authorities in the UK have signed up to to receive applications.
Shortly after we submit to the portal, the planning fee will be required. We will inform you at an early stage in the project what that might be but ordinarily and at the time of writing (1st November 2016), this will be £172.00. You can make payment with a card over the phone and we will give you all the details for that after submitting.
The authority will then write to us to tell us when a decision might be made. This is usually 8 weeks after it has been submitted and we will pass this date on to you.
Once the authority have validated the application, consultations are sent to various bodies to obtain their views on it. This includes such entities as the Highways Dept. and (if applicable) Conservation Area or Listed Building Officers. The council will also send out letters to the immediate neighbours - giving them an opportunity to object. They will have a set period during which to make their objections to the proposal. Usually around 21 days from the date the letters are sent out.
Once the consultation period has ended, the site is usually inspected and the application assessed by the Case Officer in charge of the application. Taking into account all of the planning policy relevant, consultation responses and public objections (if any). During this period, the Case Officer will usualy contact you to advise if access is required to the property.
If the Case Officer decides that there are minor problems with the application and there is a way of addressing these through limited alterations to the proposal, the officer may contact you or us as your agent to seek these minor amendments. If the amendments are substantial in order to receive consent, then the Publicity and Consideration phases will need to be repeated.
In some cases, where the application raises fundamental concerns, amendments may not be able to be made within the time period allowed by the Government to make decisions. In which case, it may be prudent to withdraw the application in order to avoid a 'refusal'.
The Case Officer will make a recommendation to the person or body authorised to make a decision. This will either be the planning Control Committee or an individual - such as the Chief Executive of the planning department.
The application may be referred to Planning Committee if there has been a sufficient number of objections. The objectors and applicant will be notified and advised of the time and venue and of any particular arrangements to enable them to take part. These meetings are open for interested parties to attend. Public speaking is also permitted. It is usually the case that a spokesperson from the objectors is allowed a set amount of time to make their points. The applicant is also allowed in most cases to respond to objections.
A decision is then taken. If your application is approved, a certificate will be sent to you or your agent which you should keep on file as it may well be required when coming to sell your property.You can now move on to the Building Regulations part of the process.
If the application is refused, the refusal letter will explain why and will refer to specific areas of the planning policy it contravenes. If this happens, you have the right to appeal but in most cases it is better to negotiate a revised scheme that is more likely to obtain approval and re-submit. It is not enough for them to refer to the fact that it has had a significant number of objections. There has to be some reference to the planning policy they feel it contravenes. This, unfortunately for the applicant, can be as vague as 'detrimentally affects visual amenity'. Which could be argued is subjective.
I hope this is a clear explanation of the process and explains why the process can take 8-10 weeks!