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How to get planning permission on your first attempt

1st February 2018 Print

There are instances when planning permission is not needed, for example, if you want to build a new garage on the site of a previous garage or you want to add a small porch to the rear of your home. However, for larger developments, i.e. houses, you will need planning permission from your local planning department. 

Most developers want to start the build as quickly as possible. You have the land, your architect has drawn up acceptable plans for a new home, and you are itching to get on with the process before the weather turns nasty and site workers are forced to down tools. Unfortunately, getting planning approval is not always a piece of cake. 

It normally takes around two months for a decision to be made on a planning application. In an ideal world, your planning application sails through the process with no objections or queries and your project can start without refusals or delays, but things can and do go wrong more often than you might think. 

Here are some tips to help ensure your planning application is approved on the first attempt. 

1. Check the Planning Policy Very Carefully

Unless you want your planning application to fall at the first hurdle, make sure it doesn’t fall foul of existing planning policy (local and national), for example, no building on Greenbelt land. If a project is likely to be contentious, you could experience significant delays or a refusal. Knocking down an existing structure and replacing it with a new, much larger, modern building is likely to cause upset in a small community. 

Planning officers are humans and they have their own opinions and biases. Some may be against particular types of development, so it is important that you understand how the local planning department works, which is where an experienced developer/builder/architect is invaluable. 

If you are planning to build an unusual structure, for example, an eco-home in the mould of Grand Designs, and you are not particular about where you build it, it is worth investigating the easiest places to get planning permission for your dream home. 

2. Pre-Planning Permission

Speak to your local planning office and ask their advice about your planning application. Most are only too happy to help. They can’t give you an absolute decision based on sketched proposals and verbal descriptions, but they can offer guidance on what extra information might need to be submitted as part of the planning application. You can also find comprehensive information on the Planning Portal before you submit your application. 

3. Prepare a Successful Planning Application

Plans and drawings must be presented in an acceptable way and to prescribed scales. If anything is omitted, it will delay your application and could cost you extra money. Developments close to listed buildings and in heritage areas come under intense scrutiny, so include illustrations and be prepared to make changes if necessary. 

Lastly, try and get your neighbours on your side before you submit your planning application. Try and anticipate any potential objections. The more support you have, the better.