For many people adding to their current home is the preferred option than moving to a new one. It may be that more space is needed or that a dedicated space for a specific reason is required. It might be that the homeowner wants to add to their home and make it more attractive for sale in the long term. Whatever the case, when work is being done it may fall under the official system known as planning permission – but what work requires planning permission and what can be done without it?
How to Apply for Planning Permission
The idea of planning permission has put off many a home improvement project. It appears to be a complex process with a random chance of a positive outcome and a complex means of application. But the truth is that it doesn’t need to be such a maze of bureaucracy and there are lots of things you can do around the home that don’t even require it. Plus, should you need it, the process of applying is now easier than ever thanks to the internet.
Do you need planning permission?
The first thing to consider is if you even need planning permission in the first place. Sure if you are planning to start creating self build homes on a plot of land you own for you and your family, you are going to need full planning permission. But there are lots of smaller home development projects that don’t require it.
Under the new Permitted Development Rights system, you can add a number of types of extensions to your home without planning permission as long as you follow certain rules. You can always check with your local authority if you want to be totally sure at any point but generally, you don’t need permission as long as:
- The extension uses no more than 50% of the area of the land
- The extension isn’t forward of the front wall of the house (known as the principal elevation)
- The extension isn’t higher than four metres or three metres within 2 metres of a boundary
- The extension uses similar materials to the house
- There are no verandas, balconies or raised platforms
There are a few other rules that apply, and things are different for flats and maisonettes, but this shows you can add a brick extension or a conservatory to your home often without any planning permission being required.
Other additions and changes
Each project will have rules that apply to it but there are lots of things you can do with a quick check and no planning permission. These include:
- Paving the front garden with porous materials
- Adding garages, sheds and outbuildings
- Replacing windows or doors
- Adding skylights
- Adding wind turbines and solar panels
- Making some changes to fences, walls and gates
- Converting the loft
- Converting the garage
Always check the exact specifics of the project before you go ahead but this shows there is a lot you can do without the need for planning permission.
I need planning permission: What’s next?
If it turns out that the project you are considering doesn’t fall under permitted development, then you need to look to get planning permission for it. This will include adding some outbuildings or extensions if they are over the stated size and building homes from scratch among others.
There are two stages of planning permission – outline and full. Outline is where permission is granted in principle to construct a house or building as long as certain design conditions are met. Most people simply go straight to a full permission because the level of detail required for an outline is very similar and this saves delaying the process. However, some plots may come with outline permission, so you can see what you can do before embarking on applying for full permission.
Each site will have its own unique requirements for the planning process but there are generally some forms that are required for it and five copies of each should be provided. These include the application forms, the signed ownership certificate, a site plan, a block plan and the elevation information for both the existing and proposed sites. There is also the need for a design and access statement and the fee.
Costs and statements
A Design and Access statement is used to justify the design concept and the access to it and what is required depends on the scale of the project and its sensitivity. Most local authorities will have guidance notes on their websites to help you complete this and it is required with planning permission. You can also work with a builder and architect to complete all the forms.
Costs of planning permission vary around the country but are currently around £380 in England for a new single dwelling. For home improvements such as an extension, the fee in England is around £170 and a little less in Wales. There can be further small charges for the discharge of ‘planning conditions’ needed to be met before the work starts.
How is planning permission decided?
The local authority will use what is called ‘material considerations’ when decided whether to give planning permission for a project or not. These can include a range of matters including:
- The loss of privacy for neighbouring properties
- The loss of light or overshadowing issues
- The parking and highway safety considerations
- Traffic and noise issues
- Layout and density of building
- The design, appearance and materials
- Any government policies
- Previous planning decisions
- Nature conservation and the impact on any listed buildings or conversation areas
Neighbours can be consulted and invited to comment along with parish councils in England and Wales. If there are no objections, then the officers can grant approved under ‘delegated powers’ but if there are objections then a majority vote is required from the local planning committee.
If you live or wish to live in a conservation area, the process is more complicated. There are a lot more regulations in place and a greater consideration is given to the impact on the environment. The purpose of these areas is to protect and enhance special architectural or historical areas and therefore work that might impact this will likely not be given planning permission.
There are lots o things that can now be done with permitted development so often planning permission isn’t a consideration. And if you need to get planning permission, much of the process can be done through the internet, speeding it up and making it easier. You should always work with a professional to ensure you get everything correct for the application and this will increase the chances of it being accepted.