Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?  So contact “The A Team” at Property Perfect Solutions Limited to smooth the prickly path towards planning permission.

Obtaining planning permission in the UK can be a frustrating process, but if you approach your project with accurate information it does not need to be that tough. Here PPS Ltd detail their top tips on how to navigate the planning system.

There is no simple answer to this question as each construction project is completely unique and it depends on lots of factors. Firstly, let’s look at projects at the smaller end of the scale. Simply, if it meets the right conditions it may not require planning permission under a scheme called ‘Permitted Development’ (PD).

What is Permitted Development and how do I know if my project qualifies?

This is a set of rights that was introduced by Parliament – rather than a local authority – to allow both residential and commercial property owners to undertake a certain level of work without having to apply for full planning permission.

Below is a short summary of what is permitted:

  • You can extend the rear of your detached property by up to 8m if it is a single storey extension or up to 3m if it is two storey.
  • If you live in a semi-detached or terraced property then you can extend the rear up to 6m for a single storey addition or 3m for more than two.
  • Any rear extension must be at least 7m from the rear boundary.
  • You cannot extend the front of your house or any elevation that faces a public highway.
  • If you want to extend the side of your property then you can only add a single storey development and the size cannot be any greater than 50% of the width of the original building.
  • The maximum height for a single storey extension is 4m to the ridge and the eaves.
  • The maximum height for a two storey extension is the same as the original building.
  • An extension to the rear must not result in more than 50% of the garden being covered.
  • Except for conservatories, any additions to the property must be of the same look and feel as the original building and use materials that blend in seamlessly.

Are there any exceptions to permitted development?

Yes, but then you knew that was coming! If you live in a Designated Area, such as a Conservation Area, National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or in a listed building, then a different set of rules apply and they can vary depending on your local authority.

Some local planning authorities have also removed elements of these rights in situations that fall outside the above areas, i.e. Westminster Council have removed PD rights from a handful of streets that they deem to be of significant historical importance.

Another significant detail to consider is that each property is allocated a certain amount of Permitted Development from 1948 onwards. This means that if any prior owners of your property have completed work under Permitted Development since then up until  now, it counts towards the total development that you are allowed.

What else should I know?

There are also Permitted Development rules that govern outbuildings and improvements, such as loft conversions. The best course of action is either to call your local planning authority to discuss the intricacies of your project or contact Property Perfect Solutions Limited, who will be able to advise you in an initial free consultation and recommend local architects who will design your project.

If you are looking at building a more substantial extension, or one that is of a conflicting style to the original property, the chances are that you are going to have to apply for full planning permission.

Can obtaining planning permission be difficult?

This can certainly be said for some projects, but this situation only usually arises for the most complex of projects. Gaining planning permission can be difficult when poor advice is offered in the first place and an applicant tries to obtain permission for something that will not be granted, either because it is completely against the rules or would disadvantage the local community in some way.

How can I make the process as smooth as possible?

To begin with you should always take on board the advice of the professionals around you: architects, project managers, builders etc. to make sure that what you are looking at constructing is realistic in ambition and scope.

What we mean by this is if you are going against the advice given and trying to increase the size of your house by an amount that is not likely to ever be approved.  Adding elements to your Grade 1 listed house that are against the rules, then you are also likely to find yourself with a very drawn out, stressful and ultimately unsuccessful planning application.

One of the costliest mistakes that people make is to not plan fully and change their minds or make alterations halfway through an application that could have been avoided at the beginning.

If you end up withdrawing an application then not only will you have to resubmit and repay all the fees; you are also likely to incur further charges from your architect to make any amends to the plans. As the old saying by Benjamin Franklin goes: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Submitting a full planning application

Once you have decided on the design, worked out the precise location, sizes, access routes and all the other details, your architect should have produced a complete set of technical drawings and plans, which not only include all the aesthetic modelling and elevations, but also all the technical details, such as:

  • Drainage
  • Foundations
  • Type of materials
  • Detail on how the structure interacts and joins with the existing
  • Utility scheme – electricity, gas etc
  • Access routes

This is a non-exhaustive list, but it gives you a respectable idea of the level of detail that your application will require.

Although not legally required anymore, a design and access statement can still add value to an application – particularly if there is a degree of complexity or something out of the norm to what you are trying to achieve. After compiling this information, it will then be submitted to the planning department electronically and this is when any fees will be due by the council.

How long will it take to get a decision?

As ever, there is no fixed rule to determine this. If a planning application is submitted with all the relevant details and runs without hiccups along the way then you can expect to have a decision in about 8-10 weeks.

What are the different outcomes?

Your application will either be approved, approved with conditions or refused. An approval is usually obtained in one of two ways: either the case officer who has been assigned to your application is able to see the process through from start to finish and award a decision; or in the case of any objections from neighbours or other parties it is likely the decision will go to committee.

If this latter scenario happens then the local authority will inform you and give you a detailed report. You will then have the chance to speak at the committee hearing to help your project with any necessary information.

Can I appeal?

Sometimes, even the best prepared submissions, backed up by leading architects and lawyers, can be denied by the council. If your application is denied then the council will tell you why explicitly and if there is an opportunity to amend any details then you will be invited to and the resubmission will be free of charge.

If this option is not open to you then you are entitled to fully appeal the decision. Be warned though that this can be a long and costly process. Before venturing down this route, it is worth speaking to your architect and planning consultants as it may turn out that there is a better way of obtaining planning, such as redesigning part of the development and resubmitting the new application.

How can Property Perfect Solutions Limited help?

Sometimes it may just be impossible for your project to be granted permission, no matter how well-intentioned it is. So, it is always worth seeking the best advice before applying.  If you have any questions regarding any point of the process feel free to contact us as we would be more than happy to give you advice and recommend local architects or structural engineers.

Property Perfect Solutions Limited also remove the headache of sourcing your builders, by obtaining quotes that meet your expectations, budgets and time scales.  The pressure of unreliable builders, the continuous questions, decision making and problem solving, as well as keeping on top of the project’s finances can become overwhelming;

Property Perfect Solutions Limited offer full or partial project management packages to ensure your project runs as smoothly as possible to the highest quality and satisfaction for all our clients.