What is the planning application process for domestic works?

If you’re considering extending your property or undertaking other building works, you will need to find out if you require planning permission for your project.

Take advice on your application

First, we recommend you take expert advice before you submit a planning application. You may find planning permission isn’t necessarily needed. However, if it is, there may be adjustments that can be made that will give your application a greater chance of success.

Most planning and building control applications are now submitted online, and you can apply to every local authority in England and Wales through the Planning Portal – a website that will advise you of all the documents you need to submit and the correct fees. Note that most planning applications will require a location and site plan.

How is planning permission decided?

Your planning application will be reviewed to see if it’s in line with your local planning authority’s (LPA) development plan. The LPA considers the following:

  • The number, size, layout, siting and external appearance of buildings
  • The infrastructure available (e.g. roads and water supply) and proposed means of access
  • Any landscaping requirements
  • The proposed use of the development
  • The likely impact on the surrounding area

Minor planning applications can be decided by a senior planning officer at the LPA, or the planning department may prepare a report for a planning committee made up of elected councillors.

You are entitled to have a copy of the report that is submitted to your local government committee and copies of certain background papers used in the preparation of the report. These background papers could include the comments of consultees, objectors and supporters relevant to your application.

You are allowed to attend planning committee meetings and, in many cases, you are also entitled to speak briefly to make your views known.

Why are applications refused?

Councillors or planning officers cannot refuse a planning proposal simply because many people oppose it.  The decision to deny an application, or grant it, is subject to conditions.

The judgment should be based on the approved policies of the LPA's development plan. The main factors under consideration are whether your proposal would unacceptably affect amenities and existing use of land and buildings that need to be protected in the public interest.

Once a decision has been made on your application, you will be given either a summary of reasons for granting permission, or detailed explanations for a refusal.

Is public consultation necessary?

For certain projects, the planning case officer assessing the case may decide to inspect the site to gather specific information and photographs.

If necessary, a planning officer will send consultation letters to neighbours and any relevant bodies to obtain their expert views. Advertisements regarding the application could be placed in a local paper and on-site, if necessary.

Your plans should also be available online for people to view and comment upon. The consultation period is generally 21 days from the date of publishing.

How long does it take to get permission?

Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they’re large or complex, in which case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks. Your local authority should obtain your written consent to extend the period, if they can’t decide your application within eight weeks.

Once a decision has been made, your local authority will write to you to let you know if it has granted or refused your planning application.

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