Planning permission is the system that allows additions or alterations to existing buildings as well as the erection of new ones. It is a system put in place by the government and administered by local councils who have planning departments. Not all changes or additions to a home need planning permission but if they do, then outline planning permission is the first step.
In some cases, there is no need to get planning permission for the work you are doing – this is under a scheme known as permitted development rights. This allows you to extend or alter your home in specific ways without applying for planning permission although there are rules about what you can and cannot do.
Under it, you can convert a loft or garage, add a modest extension or outbuilding and even change around some internal features of the home. There are rules that apply in addition to the basic regulations if you live in protected areas such as World Heritage Sites or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are also extra rules if your property is a listed building that may prohibit the changes you want to make.
Outline or full planning permission
If your planned change does require planning permission, then you need to apply for it – this post goes through the basics of applying for it. There are two main ways to apply for planning permission – either in full or in outline.
Outline planning permission grants the permission for a dwelling in principle subject to certain design conditions based on size and shape. Information within the outline application does have to be reasonably detailed. If you apply for outline planning permission, it will detail exactly what type of house you can build or what amendments you can make. Outline plans are used to find out at an early stage if a full permission could be granted without the costs involved with a full application.
Outline planning permission allows you to add fewer details at the early stage, although these do need to be included in the later full application. Details can be agreed on a ‘reserved matter’ application at a later point.
Reserved matters can be:
- Appearance – the way the building looks including the exterior of the development
- Access – all routes to and within the building as well as how these interact with existing roads and paths off-site
- Landscaping – protection or improvement of amenities of the site and area including the planning of trees or hedges as a screen
- Layout – includes the building as well as routes and open spaces around it and how they will be laid out
- Scale – this relates to the size of the development including height, width and length of each building
Once outline planning permission has been granted, a reserved matter application must be made within 3 years or less if this is stated in the application. The details must be in the agreement with the outline and condition attached to it.
Costs and decisions
The cost of the application is quite complicated depending on the size of the property. And the type of application you make. For example, if you submit an outline application you will pay £462 for a site up to 2.5 hectares. While you will pay substantially more for properties that are over 2.5 hectares.
The local authority will use what is known as material considerations when deciding whether to grant planning permission or not. Examples of these include:
- Overlooking or a loss of privacy for neighbouring properties
- Loss of light or overshadowing for neighbouring properties
- Parking issues and highway safety
- Noise and traffic issues
- Impact on any listed building or conservation area where relevant
- Layout and density of building
- Design, appearance and materials proposed to be used
- Any relevant government policies
- Proposal in the development plans
- Previous planning decisions
Neighbours are often consulted and invited to give their opinion on the project. As are parish councils where these are operating, and their views are taking into account. If neighbours don’t object, then there is a greater chance that the permission will be given.
However, if there is an object, then the committee of local councillors will need to get together to further consider it. The decision will be made by a majority vote of the local planning committee. You or your agent will be given the chance to address and give your views in a three-minute spell.
Getting planning permission can take 10-12 weeks, sometimes longer if a meeting is needed. Many times, the cases are straightforward and the decision quick. A sign is then posted outside the property to advise what is happening for a public consultation period of 3-8 weeks. Currently, some 75% of applications are accepted in England. If you are denied permission, you do have the right to appeal this to the planning inspectorate.