How to Apply for Planning Permission

How to Apply for Planning Permission

Planning permission is required for all major building works and you will need to make a planning application and gain permission before you start on a project and begin work.

You need planning permission if you are building a new building, making major changes to an existing building such as adding an extension, changing the use of your building, or adding outbuildings.

You will need planning permission from the local authority and they decide whether to grant or refuse permission for your project to go ahead.


The Application


How to Apply

You should submit your new application through the online planning portal. Completing the form online ensures you only answer questions that are relevant to your project and the completed form is sent directly to the local planning authority. There is also the option to complete a paper application if you’d prefer.

You can apply for permission to build on any land, you don’t need to own it. This means you can apply for planning permission while deciding whether to complete a land purchase, but you must inform the landowners and leaseholders of your plans.

You also do not need to apply for planning permission yourself, you can ask your architect, solicitor, or builder to apply for you if this is easier.


Planning Officer

Before you submit your application, it is recommended to speak to a planning officer to discuss your plans as this can make it easier for the local authority to process your application.

You should discuss your plans in detail and show the officer any planning documents you have so that they can evaluate your development’s potential.

With in-depth knowledge of planning policies and local requirements, the officer can highlight any potential problems with the site, suggest any conditions that the council may impose on the project, and assess your chances of gaining permission.


Supporting Documentation

As part of your planning permission application, you also need to provide the following supporting documentation:

  • Completed application form
  • Signed ownership certificate
  • Agricultural holdings certificate
  • Plans of the site including site plan, block plan, location plan, elevations of existing and proposed sites
  • Design and access statement

If you are applying online, the portal will tell you what documentation you will need. You also need to pay a fee, but this will vary depending on the size of the project.


Decision Making Process


Development Plan

The local planning authority decides whether to grant planning permission based on whether your planned development is in line with your area’s development plan. The local planning authority will look at and consider:

  • The number, size, layout, siting, and external appearance of buildings
  • The infrastructure available such as roads and water supply
  • Landscaping needs and requirements
  • What you want to use the development for
  • How the development would affect the surrounding area


Material Considerations

When making their decision whether to grant planning permission, the planning authority will also take into account a number of factors known as material considerations. These include:

  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Parking
  • Traffic
  • Highway safety
  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Noise
  • Design, appearance, and materials
  • Impact on listed buildings
  • Impact on nature conservation areas
  • Building layout and density
  • Disabled access
  • Previous planning decisions
  • Proposals in the development plan
  • Government policy


How Long Will it Take to Receive a Decision?

Once your application has been submitted, it will take around 8-12 weeks to receive a decision, and you will be notified with a letter.


Neighbours & Objections

It is best to notify your neighbours of any planned work, but they will often be consulted and invited to give their point of view on the project, along with parish councils, and anyone is free to comment on your proposals. However, objections can only be made based on the material considerations listed above.

At this stage, if there are no objections from neighbours and the planning officers recommend approval, permission will generally be granted. If there are objections or the application is called in by your councillor, the decision to grant permission is put to a vote by the local planning committee.


Next Steps


Success Rates

In England, around 75% of planning permissions are granted, and, if refused, around 40% are later granted after an appeal.

What if my Application is Rejected?

If your planning application is rejected, you have the option to amend it and resubmit it or make an appeal.

3 Years To Begin Works

Once you have been granted planning permission, you have 3 years to begin works and if works have not been started within that time, you need to reapply.


As an alternative to a straight rejection, you may be granted permission subject to certain conditions. For example, you may be granted planning permission on the condition that you have gained approval for the use of a certain material.


Failure to Gain Planning Permission

Planning Breach

Failure to gain planning permission is called a planning breach. This occurs if you carry out the building works without applying for planning permission, without being granted planning permission, or if you break any conditions.

Enforcement Notice

If you need planning permission and carry out the work without applying for it or if you fail to gain consent for the project, you may be served an enforcement notice ordering you to undo all changes made and the local planning authority can have the work altered or demolished. It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it.

Retrospective Application

Likewise, if you fail to apply for planning permission before starting building work, you can make a retrospective planning application after works have been carried out.



If your application is refused, the planning authority will provide reasons for the rejection in writing. You should then discuss the refusal with the local planning authority and try to come to an agreement by adjusting your plans and resubmitting your application.

If you cannot reach an agreement, you can appeal against the authority’s decision to the secretary of state. You can also make an appeal if the planning authority does not issue a decision within 8 weeks.

An appeal should be a last resort and should be submitted within 6 months from the date of the application decision. Appeals can take several months to be decided, and it is much quicker and recommended to try to discuss with the planning authority to ask whether changes to the proposal would make your works acceptable instead.


Further Advice about Planning Permission

Follow these steps to apply for planning permission and for more advice and guidance, speak to your local planning authority or get in touch with our expert consultants today.


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