A guide on planning permission

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Planning permission may seem restrictive for developers but they really are essential as they keep the local area regulations that help people’s safety and their general wellness. Planning permission regulations cover things like the materials that can be used and the heights of buildings that must be followed to prevent overshadowing.

Often, when you see a well-designed building you may think it is just the work of the architect but the planning consultant abiding by the rules of planning permission also plays a big part. In order to get the most out of development, the planning permission rules must be followed to the best advantage of the developer.

A planning consultant applying for planning permission with a developer

What is meant by planning permission?

Planning permission refers to the permission granted by a local authority in order for a building to gain approval for development. In order for a building to gain approval they will need to produce a proposed development for the site that is in line with regulations.

Are there different types of planning permission?

There are multiple different types of planning permission based on the type of building it is and the type of building works that are being proposed. This ranges from 12 different types of planning permission all covering different types of regulations.

Householder planning permission

This type of planning permission is for any type of work that happens within a home that adds space to the property such as loft extensions or conservatories. This property must also be a single home so it cannot be a flat or an application concerning multiple dwellings. 

Condition for discharge or approval

The majority of the time there are conditions that are given in order for the planning permission application of a property to be granted. For example,  the developer must follow certain regulations like building height in order to build their property.

Therefore, once the development begins, some local authorities will ask for proof these regulations or conditions are being followed for each condition in the planning permission. 

Whether a local authority asks you to do this or not depends on the type of development and the local authority but ultimately they must be complied with because this can void the planning permission.

This type of planning permission forces landlords to stay on top of their development by knowing where and when to submit evidence to the local authority that issues these discharges or approvals.

Prior approval application

Prior approval is a specific type of planning permission that only applies to buildings classed as “permitted developments”. Ironically, permitted developments are buildings that do not need planning permission in order for developments to be carried out on them.

However, there is still a smaller type of planning permission that is much more streamlined and will be approved quicker which still needs to be submitted to a local authority. This is known as a prior approval application.

In this process, it may be determined that the permitted development isn’t approved for the type of planning the developer wants to do through the submitting of a prior approval application. In this case, the developer will need to submit full planning permission.

Non-material changes

A non-material change or a non-material amendment refers to changes that refer to minor changes that are planned to happen in a property. For example, if there needs to be a small change to a development that doesn’t warrant a full change in planning permission you can use a non-material change in this way.

Peculiarly, the term non-material doesn’t refer to the physical material of a property in this sense but refers to anything substantial or appreciable. Whether a change falls into this category is up to the local authority.

Construction workers building after planning permission was granted

Outline planning permission

This planning permission is a quicker type of application that can be submitted to tell if the overall development will be accepted and to what extent. Whether that be in part or in full. 

This means a developer can submit information like the access and layout of the proposed changes to land and the local authority will give an idea of approval without details like the materials involved and the exact floor plans.

Hence, if a local authority finds they are able to determine if parts of the access or layout of the land will gain approval, they can put parts of the application in a “reserved for later” category which is a signal for the developer to take the application further with details about the development before they can begin building the property.

material consent in relation to planning obligations

Planning obligations limit how much a building is able to stand out so they don’t become an eyesore to members of the public after the building has been developed. This means there have to be rules around if certain materials are allowed or not. If external materials are changed throughout the development of a building, this is where you would use this planning permission.

It ensures the planning obligations are met by ensuring the material in question is sufficient for the land in the area.

Lawful development certificate

In order to understand lawful development certificates you will need to first understand permitted developments.

A permitted development is a building that doesn’t need planning permission in order for works to be carried out on the lawful development certificate is a check that is done by local authorities to make sure this is the case and the development can undergo works without full planning permission.

A lawful development certificate makes sure the development does not fall under permitted development. So this is the check that a developer submits to a local authority in order to gain “permitted development” status.

A lawful development certificate will fall into one of two categories, for proposed or existing buildings. 

Full planning consent

This is one of the most popular forms of planning permission because it is there for works that are carried out by a variety of flats and commercial sites too. In addition, this consent must be applied to the creation of new residential units like new build homes.

This is important to remember because householder planning applications will not be sufficient in this case despite homes being built.

Request for removal of conditions

This type of planning application is fairly straightforward. If a developer has changed parts of the development so the conditions initially applied no longer apply to the build, instead of submitting an entire application they can submit a request for the removal of conditions.

This condition is also known as Section 73 which is the name given in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 which can be found here.

A landowner trying to change the planning permission conditions of the property

Reserved matters

If you take a look at the regulation involved in outline planning permission, this involves submitting planning permission which is a bit vaguer where a developer can submit an application to see if terms like the layout and scale of the development will be confirmed.

Sometimes, a section of the development may gain approval but there is more information that ends at a later date. This is where a reserved matter can be sued to follow up on the unresolved case.

Both outline and reserved matters will be concerning these five subjects of property planning; site, design, external appearance, means of access and landscaping

Consent for a listed building

As you may imagine, grade one, two or three listed buildings which are already protected by the government because of their historical or cultural significance may be hard to gain planning permission for. If you aren’t sure what these categories are and want to learn more click here.

It is therefore illegal to conduct a development on a building like this unless you can show the changes are extremely minor. This topic is extremely subjective hence why a separate type of planning permission is needed. Each planning permission for a listed building will be extremely different.

Application for advertisements

Advertisements are sometimes used to apply to buildings near busy roads or highways. This advertising space can then be rented out for additional revenue to provide additional revenue for the property.

However, there are rules around whether these advertisements are too distracting or they could overlook private spaces like schools or graveyards. Therefore, the local authority will need to look over an application like this to make sure the advertisement does not cause concern to members of the public.

How do you get planning permission?

In order to get planning permission you need to go to the government website of your local authority to submit an application. You may be able to process everything through the website but in some cases, you may need to send an email or call on the phone.

Alternatively, you can go straight to the planning portal seen here.

Is planning permission necessary?

Planning permission is absolutely necessary and if you are not sure if you need it it is always best to double-check with the local authority where the building is.

When this happens it is known as a planning breach which may require you to submit retrospective planning permission which is there to combat the illegal planning permission in the first place.

What happens if you don’t apply for planning permission?

First of all, you will need to apply for retrospective planning permission. If this fails to comply, you will receive an enforcement notice which is a notice to change the development significantly in order to meet the planning permission laws you have breached. 

This may involve the demolition of a building and will certainly cost a building owner a significant amount of money with things like unlimited fines for having a compliant building being a possibility depending on the local authority.

A landlord paying a fine for not following planning permission regulations

What can you build without planning permission?

In general, if you have a lawful development certificate which is a certificate granted to most homes to make them permitted developments. You should be able to build on the land that the home is built on without the need to apply for planning permission within certain laws. 

These laws are outlined on the government website here. They include things like making sure the extension is no more than half the area of land around the house.

Planning permission is usually not necessary for all other types of additions to a garden like garden sheds, greenhouses and garages. If you’re not sure, speak to a planning consultant who will guide you through the process.

What do you need to include in a planning permission application?

What you need to include in a planning permission application depends on the type of planning application you’re applying for as there are a range of types that all relate to different scenarios in the development of a new building.

However, the most common type of planning application is householder planning permission which applies to households or full planning consent which relates to building like new build properties and commercial developments.

In these cases the following documents will likely be asked for by the local authority:

  • Architectural plans (Location and site plan)
  • Standard application form
  • An ownership certificate
  • Agricultural holdings certificate (required regardless of if there is an agricultural holding)
  • Fire statement
  • Design and access statement

Does it take long to gain planning permission?

Most small-scale planning permissions will be concluded within two months and others that are larger-scale developments that require an environmental impact assessment may take up to 16 weeks to process.

Because of this two-month turnaround, it is typical for developers to take their time in the application for planning permission as if it doesn’t get approved you may have to submit another application that takes up to two months again.

How long does planning permission last?

Three years is how long from the start of the granting of planning permission to when it expires. After this date, a landowner would have to resubmit the application no matter how expensive it was.

What is a wayleave?

A wayleave agreement is an agreement between a landowner and a telecommunications provider or network provider who needs to enter the landowner’s premises to conduct repairs or install new equipment. So they are essentially granted planning permission. The difference is the land was not their own which is why there is a need to call this the more specific term of a wayleave.

This is typically done by the provider paying the landlord a fee to gain access to their land known as a wayleave fee.

How much do planning permission applications cost?

Planning application fees vary wildly depending on the type of planning application it is and the type of property that is included in the property.

To find the exact fees, click here for the most up to date information on the government website.

A landowner budgeting to pay for planning permission costs

What should you do after you have been approved for planning permission?

After you have been approved for planning permission, it is necessary to go ahead and start developing the proposed works because there is a three-year window before the planning permission expires.

Therefore if any works are not finished within this time, you may have to resubmit parts of the planning permission to the local authority.

Besides this, making sure all the other parts of the building regulations are in place can be useful as planning permission takes a while to process so after the main part of planning permission is approved, looking for other smaller details that may need approval would be a great next step.

In conclusion

When looking at the topic of planning permission, the biggest hurdle for a landlord is knowing what type of planning permission to apply for and then making sure when they do apply for that planning permission, it is approved.

There are quite severe consequences for getting this wrong. For example, you may receive a fine for building without the right planning permission or the development of a property may be severely delayed because planning permission has to be resubmitted.

Having said this, a contractor will likely not build a development without planning permission being in place and if you work with a professional like a planning consultant you will also reduce your chance of getting things wrong as you’d be relying on expertise.

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andreas gerazis

Andreas Gerazis

Experienced landlord

Andreas is a certified landlord with extensive knowledge about the UK property market as he has been actively investing for half a decade. Founder of the first three-in-one property management software, Lofti Proptech, Andreas has a brilliant understanding of the details surrounding what it takes to grow and run a thriving property portfolio.