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How to Get Planning Permission

Apart from securing land, most of the people we come into contact with find gaining Planning Permission one of the most frustrating and drawn-out processes which can cause delay and disruption to any project. Why is it that one person gets Planning Permission, and his neighbour gets refused? Here, we suggest a few tips to maximise your chances...


Things You Need to Know About Planning with

Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine


You can make a planning application on any piece of land in the country - you don't have to own it!


Your planning decision should take no longer than eight weeks from the point of application.


The objections of neighbours and local people may well not have any impact on the final decision.


You can withdraw an application at any time - so if you think you are going to get a refusal, you can withdraw it at any time up to the day itself, and resubmit free of charge.


You can submit an infinite number of planning applications on any one site - and choose which one to use. As long as it is current, you don't have to use the most recent.


As a self-builder, you will have a choice of either buying a plot with planning permission, or to speculate yourself and achieve planning permission for exactly what you want. Either way, you need to have an understanding of the planning process because having the right permission is the only way you will be able to build the house of your dreams. For advice and help with planning, visit Timbertecs, the professional services branch of the Benfield ATT Group.

Planning has its own rules. Unlike building regulations, planning regulations are not set in stone. They can dffer from one part of the country to another. This is because planning involves local politics.

There are inconsistencies between planners in one authority and even more across different authorities.

From the submission of your application to a decision being made should take no longer than eight weeks. The planners are under real pressure to meet that timescale. The Government has come up with a clever wheeze of effectively linking a council's performance to the financing of planning departments, meaning that people's jobs are at stake if they don't deal with things quickly. Speed, of course, does not encourage negotiations during an application; in the past planners have been happy to look at amended plans to overcome problems but are far less likely to do so now. So the emphasis on speed by the Government has the entirely predictable effect of ensuring that it actually takes much longer to get planning permission - but on paper it looks quicker. Planning officers will unhesitantly refuse a proposal rather than seek to negotiate. So, it is very important that you track your application through the system to avoid any nasty surprises. Don't allow your application to be refused, withdraw it and resubmit having overcome the problems they identify. The second application will not require a fee.

Ken Dijksman, Planning Consultant


Buy Land Subject to Planning

Did you know any one can make a planning application on any piece of land even if you don't own it. This means it is common practice in the development world to make a purchase subject to satisfactory planning permission - this is legally secured by exchanging contracts with completion conditional upon getting the permission you want, or by entering into an Option Agreement, which gives you the legal option to buy the land if you're successful, or walk away if you're not.

"It is best to approach the planner as one of the various professionals helping you to build the house..."

Bend the Rules

Being informed may allow you to bend the rules. In planning speak, a development should be carried-out in accordance with the development plan.

The Development Plan for your area is either comprised of a County Structure Plan and District Local Plan or a combination of both, called a Unitary Development Plan.

It will list the criteria that should be used to assess and judge planning applications.

For help with planning and more advice, visit Timbertecs.


The Planning Committee

Your application will be allocated to a planning officer, however more controversial decisions may be put to a committee. So, get to know the planning officer, and even a couple of committee members.

Design for Planning Acceptance

You can also cater for planning in the design stages. Getting designers with planning and building regulations knowledge is key to success. Simply Self Build proprietary Flexi-Lodge building system is designed to class the building as a relocatable structure, and may not even require planning permission - whilst at the same time exceeding building regulations. With new building regulations, the CSH07, the fact that we use sustainable timber and offer truly environmental products (such as roof slates made from recycled car tyres) really goes in your favour. Contact usfor more information.

Did you Know?
The Benfield ATT Group's Managing Director, Professor Michael Benfield, addressed the European Property Development & Planning during his PhD.


Planning Experts

Our Timbertecs planning consultants can advise regarding the planning application, drawings, and appeals. Please contact us for further information.

Understand Consultation

Planning typically takes a minimum of 8 weeks. When you submit a planning application you fill in forms, provide the drawings and supply the fee - currently £316 for a single dwelling. The local authority then registers the application and consults a list of organisations both internal and external. A decision will not be made until that Consultation period has expired. They will consult neighbours by letter or by putting-up a site notice. Notice of your intention to build will be given to all affected parties, including the local parish or town council, highway engineers, the Environment Agency, environment health officers, professional archaeologists, a conservation officer and a tree officer.

Any one of the above could throw a spanner in the works, and delay your application or cause it to be refused. To avoid this try talking to the neighbours, discuss the access with a highway authority etc. This could make a real difference to the outcome.

Controversial applications normally end up in front of the planning committee and then you're in the game of local politics.

If the neighbours object, don't panic. Objections do not necessarily mean refusal."

Understand the Conditions

When you get permission it may be subject to planning conditions. This will include a time limit during which the project has to be started - currently 3 years.

For further information on planning permission please visit

Homebuilding & Renovating Magazine


Key Terms

  • Outline Planning Permission

    OPP gives a rough indication of permitted development. It is usually valid for 5 years but is only intended to be a preliminary procedure.

  • Detailed Planning Permission

    If a site has OPP, then you will have to submit detailed designs for you to gain DPP approval. Building must usually commence within 2 years.

  • Full Planning Permission

    This is a combination of OPP and DPP where all information is submitted in one application. This is common if the application is conscientious of the environment or similar.

  • Refusal

    The reason why it is so important to avoid a refusal is that it can be a black mark on the planning history of the plot and establish very clearly what isn't acceptable. It is also a fact of life that that Planning Authorities will throw every reason they can think of in an attempt to win any appeal. If you decide to appeal, it will take a year to come to a decision.

It's always best to talk to the experts.

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