When starting out on a new project we thought most people would turn to the Internet so we Googled, “...UK planning application process…” and recoiled at the thought of working through the 26 million results returned in less than half a second!
The main point to consider is the individual nature of planning. Be it a completely new property or extending and improving your current home, each application is considered on its own merits. The upside of this is that whilst there are some common requirements that must be considered there should be the flexibility to tailor an application to meet your needs. However, the process can be a lengthy and often frustrating one.
So we set out to give you an outline of what the process is and point you towards a great free resource to help you ascertain what you will need planning for.
Despite all the authorities that get involved, they all agree on the following six steps:
- Pre-application advice – there is now the option of “sounding out” your local planning authority (LPA) which in most rural areas will be the district council - for example the Vale of White Horse - for advice on whether your application might be approved and/or what information they would require within your formal application. You do pay for this service but it can be much less than a full application.
- Application and validation - most applications can be made online which will step you through all the documentation that needs to be submitted and the correct fees (currently £172 as a householder or £385 for a new dwelling). Getting things right at this stage makes the job of the local authorities easier and they do not have to chase you for documentation which will cause delays.
- Consultation and publicity - this is when it all starts to feel more real with letters being sent to neighbours and where applicable, to various stakeholders for an expert view. Where needed, notices are placed in the local press and on site. The plans can also be viewed online and commented on.
- Site and assessment - a planning officer will visit the site against the backdrop of planning policies and any responses received at the previous stage.
- Recommendation - the planning officer will then indicate as to whether they will be recommending its approval or refusal for the planning authority to then make a final decision.
- Decision - whilst some planning officers will be reporting back to a manager or group, some senior planning officers have what is referred to delegated powers meaning they can make a decision without passing it up the chain. This means a decision can be reached quicker. Alternatively, it will be considered at the next scheduled planning committee within the LPA at which the appointed councillors sit.
The final outcome of either approved or refused can seem very binary, however, both will typically come with conditions or an explanation. In the case of approval, it will be subject to the requested conditions being met and for a refusal, the grounds for this will also be included. For a refusal, you do have the right to appeal which is dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate which is an independent government body.
Should your planning application be approved, generally speaking, it will be valid for three years. If you have not started any work, you will probably need to reapply.
If we were to pick just one online resource to start your planning journey, then the Interactive Planning Portal is possibly it.
Covering the whole of the UK and available for both residential and commercial property, this clever web-based application covers everything from dropped curbs to porches! Using a simple image of a house, you can click on the various parts of this virtual home for information about the planning and building regulation requirements. There is also access to a wealth of information and mini guides on the main Planning Portal website.
Here at Waymark, we have been through the planning process several times, not just professionally but personally too. We have seen it from both sides and understand the pitfalls, challenges and frustrations of having to coordinate and engage with a range of people and authorities.
If you want to have a confidential conversation about your potential planning project, then send an email to Ed Preece or give Ed a call on 01367 820 070.