Building and renovation, particularly if it’s in the home, is quite stressful. In general, getting planning permission doesn’t need to be a difficult process, and often is quite simple. Let’s have a look at some of the ways you can improve your application ready for submission – and if you even need permission.
Do I Need Permission?
Let’s face it – getting planning permission can take a while and it requires quite a lot of admin. You’ll need all kinds of things, from a survey to drawings and a fair amount of paperwork. Before you embark on getting that permission, first check if you actually need it. In the UK, you might get by on a grant of planning permission called the “Permitted Development Rights”, which allows you to carry out certain building work and changes without needing to submit planning permission.
There are many instances where you might not need to get permission, notably interior renovation and some extensions, depending on their size and height. The best thing you can do is before you start, review the documentation to ensure you qualify for these permitted development rights, or better, contact the local planning authority for clarification, as there are some exceptions for conservation areas and national parks.
What is Assessed?
If your planned construction is a new building or doesn’t fit within the permitted development rights, you’ll need to submit planning permission to the local planning authority. They will assess your application and decide whether it meets certain criteria.
This assessment will focus on the impact your building project or development will have on the local area and community, with a strong focus on the surrounding infrastructure. The local planning authority will consider many things, like whether the local infrastructure would support the project in terms of water supply, roads, and other services, whether landscaping is needed, and what the development is used for. They’ll also assess how the development might affect the local area’s traffic, pollution, and other effects it might have. This process can take up to 8 weeks, so be sure to factor this time into your project management schedule.
How Do I Check If I Need Permission?
Probably the best way to be sure about your building plans and whether you need planning permission is by hiring a planning consultant, as they will have expert knowledge on what is needed and will help you navigate the minefield of planning permissions and nuances. The Royal Town Planning Institute’s Planning Aid England project should be your first stop here for a wealth of great info, as well as a directory of planning consultants that you can use to find one close to you by simply using your postcode.
Get the Inspections Done
There are a few inspections you should do, depending on your specific area and building plans, that will either be required or will help in the planning permissions being granted.
The first is a land survey. These surveys will guide you and the building project on whether the land is suitable at all and will determine the boundaries for construction. It can sometimes be combined with an ecology survey, which will consider things like protected species, habitats, and trees as well as what kind of impact your building development might have on the local ecology.
Another important survey to get done is a bat survey. This is because bats are protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations of 2017 as well as the Wildlife and Countryside Act of 1981. These acts make it illegal to kill or injure bats as well as disturb, damage or obstruct bat roosts. 24Housing is a great resource for anyone planning a building project or home extension, and they have a wealth of information about what a bat survey entails as well as a few survey options here.
What About the Neighbours?
You definitely want to keep your neighbours happy and on board with your construction plans.
Technically, you don’t need to worry about getting permission from your neighbours directly, but you should know that as part of the process if planning permission is needed, the local authority will speak to them and consult them on your plans.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to talk to them yourself first and get their feelings on your proposed plans. If you show your neighbours your plans and get them onboard, it can save you time and hassle later if they don’t agree. The Party Wall Act, which states that if any building work will involve building or digging within 3-6m of a shared wall, you might need to give them up to two months’ notice before you can begin construction, and they can object any time within 14 days.
During the consultation with your neighbours, they might not be happy and you might need to change your plans slightly to get them on board, but rather that than have your plans rejected. If nothing else, you’ll need their consent if your builders need to access their property for any reason, so it’s all around just good practice to talk to them first.
Look Around Your Area
You should extend your interest beyond your neighbours and look around your area in general for any recently completed renovations or building projects. If there are recently completed or ongoing construction projects in your area, it means that the local planning authority has likely recently granted them, which is a good sign for your chances. If you don’t find any projects it might mean you need to put a bit more effort into your application as there could be a chance that your local planning authority might be quite strict in granting permissions. This is another reason why hiring a planning consultant is a good idea.
The more complete your application and the more questions you can answer for the local planning authority, the more likely you are in being successful. For this reason, surveys and neighbour permissions are the two areas that are worth spending a good amount of focus on. Don’t forget to have your plans in place, preferably drawn up by an architect for the best chance of success.