Kirk-Brown Ltd

Independent Chartered Building and Property Surveyors

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Guide to Planning Applications and Process

When applying for planning permissions, applicants can now submit most of their applications online. One can even use the UK Planning Portal to make a planning permission application to every local authority in Wales and England. There are several benefits you can get from using the Planning Portal. These include saving time and money, easily attaching plans and drawings, step-by-step help and user-friendly portal. We have put together a guide to help you navigate through the planning application and process.



How to Apply for Planning Permission

In the UK, you need to make the planning permission application through the relevant planning authority. The Planning Portal makes it easier for people to make these applications online. It is mandatory for you to submit the application in a standard form either by post or online. 

How to Apply for Planning Permission

Ways to apply

It is advisable to use the Planning Portal when making an application for planning permission. On the portal, you need to complete a form with questions that are relevant to your application. After you finish filling the form, you can use the Planning Portal as a gateway to submitting the form to the local authority. 

If you intend to make a paper application, be sure to download the application form from the website of a relevant local planning authority. Alternatively, you can download the form in paper format directly from the Planning Portal. Take your time when filling the form to avoid errors or omitting specific information. Use the post office to send the form once you finish filling it.

Eligibility requirements

It is possible for you to hire an agent to make the application on your behalf. Your builder, architect or solicitor can take care of the work. It isn't a must for you to be the owner of the land you're applying planning permission for. However, you need to inform the landowner, leaseholders or agricultural tenants regarding your interests for applying for the planning permission. 

As an applicant, you may get help with your application from various sources at a fee. You can consult with professional planners or planning consultants certified by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). Some professional planners also offer affordable or free help to people like you through RTPI's Planning Aid network. 

Pre-application advice

Before submitting your application, it is wise to have a meeting with a planning officer. Be sure to check whether you'll incur some fees when meeting with the officer. The pre-application advice can help you to minimise the chances of submitting an invalid application. It also sheds some light on the planning policies and the relevant requirements for a planning permit. When meeting the planning officer, be prepared to show your plans and comprehensively describe your proposals. 

Ask the planning officer whether you're likely to qualify for the planning permission based on the content of your application. Discuss site challenges including telephone lines, sewers, watercourses, power cables, footpaths and roads. Explain to him or her why you think that your application needs approval. By the end of the meeting, you should have the information on what you need to include in your application for it to get approval from the local authorities. 


Pre-application advice

How to choose your application

The application system of the UK Planning Portal covers various consents that you can apply for online. It covers listed building consent and full planning consent among other approvals. It is essential to choose the right consent when making your application to be valid. Since you want planning permission, choose the full planning consent. 

What supporting documents to submit

All planning permission applications need to have the required supporting documents and relevant site plans. As an applicant, you should ensure that the form is complete and pay the required processing fee. Your local authority will receive your form automatically once you submit it online via the Planning Portal. Your application won't get approval if you fail to accompany it with the required supporting documents. You may also attach relevant documents that you believe can help the local authority approve your application. 

The mandatory documents that the local authority want include design and access statement (if applicable), ownership certificate, site plan and location plan. You should also submit an agricultural holdings certificate regardless of what the site features. You can find the local requirements for a planning permission application from the LPA website. 

How to choose your application

How much will the application cost?

In most cases, you will incur some costs when making a planning permission application. You won't incur any costs if the application is for a demolition work you want to undertake in a conservation area. To find out how much you'll spend, visit the Planning Portal and use online fee calculator. Your council can also inform you about the fees that you need to pay for your application to go through. 

There's also a fee guide for planning applications within England that is available on the Planning Portal. Note that the fees you pay help the local authorities to process your application. The costs are also not refundable unless the authorities render your application as invalid. There are four ways in which you can pay the charges. You can use a debit or credit card to make the payment via a secure online payment processing system. The system also accepts payments made by check. The payment processing system accepts BACS Transfer payments too. 

What's next

After submitting your application, the local authority will review and validate it within standard timescales and workflow processes. For online applications, applicants instantly get email confirmations once they submit their forms. The email confirmation comes with a unique reference number that you should always use when writing to the local authority. Remember that this confirmation doesn't imply that the local authority approved your planning permission application. As you wait for the approval, try to be patient. Avoid making unnecessary visits or calls to the authority. 


Planning Permission and the Related Surveys

As you are carrying out a planning project, the local authority will ask you for arboricultural and ecological surveys. Note that these surveys help the authority to ascertain whether your planning project is fit for permission or not. These surveys are technical hence the need for you to look for an expert to do them. You should also know what they entail and the role that they play in your entire planning project.

The Type of Surveys Needed for Planning Permission

When applying for planning permission, there are several types of surveys that the local authority will ask you for. These include tree surveys, ecological surveys and arboricultural surveys. Your mortgage provider may also ask for different tree surveys to ensure that your project has minimal effects on the surrounding environment. You will also carry out surveys for endangered animals such as owls, badgers, reptiles, bats and newts if they exist in the land you want to develop. 

With regards to the property itself, you should also coduct a full building survey- previously referred to as structural surveys- in order to establish the exact condition of the property and how the work will influence it. While this is not a strict planning requirement, it's highly beneficial to the design and thus planning process.

Surveys Needed for Planning Permission

What happens if you fail to get the survey done?

Failure to get a survey done as requested by the local authority will lead to you not getting the planning permission. This means that the law will forbid you to carry out your developmental project. You'll be commiting "planning breach" if you choose to undertake your project without planning permission. You'll also be in breach if you proceeded with your project after the local authorities denied your application for planning permission. 

There are opportunities for you to request planning permission if you began building your project. However, if you made an application and the authorities denied it, carrying out the project may attract penalties. The authority will issue you an enforcement notice as soon as they discover that the project is ongoing. This notice will ask you to demolish or alter the developmental project you're undertaking. Disobeying the enforcement notice is illegal. 

Will there be delays if the survey are ongoing?

If the survey a specialist wants to undertake has seasonal restrictions, there are chances that delays will be prevalent in your project. Note that surveys such as the bat emergence survey are suitable for undertaking during certain seasons. If your local authority asks for a bat emergence survey at the end of the year, you'll have to wait until May in the next year. The time it takes for the authority to approve your planning permission depends on whether you met all the requirements. They will give you feedback regarding the approval in a span of 10 to 12 weeks after submitting the application form.

At times, the planning permission application process can be daunting and frustrating. It becomes more difficult to proceed with this process if the authority asks you for surveys that are seasonal or those that you didn't budget for. Having an expert or consultancy firm specialising in planning permissions by your side can save you time and money. This professional assistance enables you to spend less time worrying about the outcome of the process and focus more on planning for your development. 


Types of Projects that Need Planning Permission

Before applying for planning permission, you must know the type of project that the planning permission will apply to. The good thing about the Planning Portal is that it not only allows you to make online applications for the permit but also gives you a number of guides. Once you have adequate information regarding the planning permits, you can understand what you should take into account when carrying out any project. 

Projects that Need Planning Permission

Home Improvement Projects

If you're thinking of making specific improvements to your home, then read on to find out what you need to do. Home improvement activities can include adding an outbuilding on your home or replacing the windows of your home. There are some of these activities that require planning permission from the local authority while there are others that don't. 

  • fuel tanks
  • garage conversion
  • basements
  • biomass fuelled appliances
  • boilers and heating
  • ceilings and floors
  • change of use
  • conservatories
  • loft conversion
  • decking
  • demolitions
  • doors and windows
  • drains and sewers
  • electrics
  • extensions
  • external walls and insulation
  • fences
  • gates
  • garden walls
  • flue, chimney or vent pipes
  • outbuildings
  • patio and driveway

If a home improvement you want to undertake involves energy, there are high chances that you may need planning permission. This is because the activities that rely on electricity tend to expose people to many risks. Furthermore, if proper control isn't in place, these activities may lead to the destruction of property worth millions of pounds. This is the reason why the local planning authorities need to assess them before giving the owner the approval to undertake them.

Commercial and Residential projects

Commercial and residential projects both require the owners to apply for planning permission. Commercial projects aim at enabling the owners to earn income from them. They include retail stores, private schools, supermarkets, private hospitals, bank buildings and office spaces. 

Project developers usually undertake residential projects with an objective of increasing the access to housing units. Since the projects directly have an impact on the tenants or households that will be loving in the constructed houses, they need approval from the local planning authorities. In this case, the approval should be in the form of planning permission. The local planning authorities need to ascertain that the houses under construction meet the planning policies and have less adverse effects on people, vegetation and animals.

Commercial and Residential projects

Complying with the Planning Regulations

Besides applying for the planning permission, you need to comply to certain planning regulations as you plan for your project. Be sure to adhere to these regulations in the project's stages such as strategy and design, project planning, project viability, design and making a planning permission application. In the strategy and design step, you need to enlist a professional to help you look at the finer details of your project. 

As part of your project planning, look for trade professionals and ask them how you can effectively meet the goals of your project. Make an effort of looking for pre-application advice from expert planners for you to not only get the best out of your planning project but to also increase your chances of getting approved planning permission. Keep your options open regarding the professionals you turn to for help. 

For every commercial or residential development project, there is specific permitted development legislation. There are also certain safety concerns that you need to note for the development to turn out well. You should know how these legislations apply to the most common projects. Research on the other permissions that you may need when undertaking a commercial or residential project for you to get the most out of it. 

As you're designing your project, make an effort of finding out about the design impacts planning. Be sure to learn about the National Planning Policy Framework enacted by the government and its related planning practice requirements. This legal framework lays the ground rules for any planning project one wants to undertake in the country. 

Complying with the planning regulations