Planning permission is an absolute necessity before building on land or making significant changes to the structure of an existing building. Seasoned developers will be all too familiar with the planning application process, but those who are newer to developing and redeveloping properties might find this one of the more challenging areas to tackle.
Local Area Considerations
When applying for planning permission, or trying to assess your chances of succeeding if you do apply, there are a number of key points that should be considered. Primarily, you should think about the same factors that local authorities consider when deciding whether to grant or decline planning permission.
This will vary somewhat depending on the local authority in question, but the core considerations are fairly consistent. Prominently, local authorities will consider whether a development may have a negative impact on neighbours, the local environment, or other aspects of the area. Proposals will also generally be required to conform to the “character” of the local area. Other considerations, often overlooked by developers, are parking, the amount of light a property lets in, and whether local amenities will be adversely affected.
If the property in question is located in a conservation area or is recognised as a historic building, things will be even more difficult. Even changing windows and doors may require permission, and even these simple permissions can be hard to obtain.
Making an Application
In the simplest terms, to make an application you must approach your local authority who will ask you to complete an application form. In this form you will be required to provide details of your project, and to address the impact on the local area. This must be submitted along with a plan of the site as it currently is and as it would be after development, as well as appropriate fees. Assuming there are no specific delays to the process and the council does not have to request further information, you will usually receive a decision within eight weeks. If you do not receive a decision in this time, you may be able to begin an appeal of non-determination in order to push for an answer. If your request is rejected, then you can try to revise your plans according to the local authority’s concerns in order to reach an agreement. You can also appeal to the Secretary of State, but this is a slow and difficult process and generally should be a last resort.
The more detail and supporting research you can incorporate into your application, and the more information you give to support the contention that the development will not impact negatively on the local area, the better. There are experts and specialist companies that can help you complete your form correctly and in detail, and can conduct research or draw up reports to support your application. These services might be worth using in order to minimise the possibility of rejection, particularly if your plans are fairly complex.