Planning FAQ

Attwells Solicitors are committed to pro-active, jargon-free planning law. We have produced this FAQs page to help answer any questions you may have.

If there is any question we have missed, please call 01206 766333 to speak with a member of our planning team.

What is planning?

The planning system seeks to manage the use of land and ensure that new development, whether large, such as new houses, shops, etc., or small, such as new windows, sheds, etc., occurs in the right place. For Councils to retain control, most forms of new development require planning permission.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is required for certain forms of development and changes of use of land and buildings. It requires the submission of a planning application to the local Council.

When is planning permission required?

Planning permission is required for many types of development, including for extensions, outbuildings, new houses, etc.

How do I apply for planning permission?

A planning application needs to be submitted to the Council. Depending on the development proposed, the application may need to be accompanied by drawings of the existing property and proposed development. Specialist reports may also be required depending on the scale and nature of the development proposed.

Do I need to own the property if I am applying for planning permission?

No. It is not necessary to own the property that is the subject of the application, but if you do not, you will need to ‘serve notice’ on the owner alerting them to your intention to make a planning application relating to their land.

Should a planning consultant or an architect prepare my planning application?

Planning consultants are experienced in dealing with a variety of planning issues, including the submission of planning applications, and it may therefore assist you to enlist the services of a ‘planner’ to help you through the process. Architects are also able to assist, particularly in respect of drawing up plans to accompany an application.

How long will it take to obtain planning permission?

Councils must determine planning applications for domestic development and small scale residential development within 8 weeks of submission. Larger applications have a longer period of 13 weeks.

Can planning permission be fast tracked?

Unfortunately not, although some Councils offer a fast track service for elements of the planning process. Councils may expedite the process if a proposal is deemed straightforward and uncontroversial. N.B. the 21 day consultation period limits the extent to which an application can be fast tracked.

Are planning applications public?

Yes. All planning applications, along with supporting documents, and objections, will be available to view either online (on the Council’s websites) or at the Council offices.

Are planning objections anonymous?

No, although some Councils redact sensitive information before publishing details online.

How does building regulation differ from planning permission?

Building regulations relate to the construction and design of buildings to set standards in order to ensure the health and safety of people. Essentially, planning permission determines whether new buildings are in the ‘right place’ and building regulations makes sure that they are built to acceptable standards. We are able to assist you with any enquiries you may have in respect of planning permission and for your building project.

What is involved in the planning application process?

A planning application is submitted to your local Council and involves the submission of an application form, plans (including a plan identifying the site, existing and proposed plans) and the application fee.

Once submitted, the Council will check the application to make sure that they have all the information necessary to consider the proposal, and if so, will ‘validate’ it. The Council will then notify neighbours in writing and/or place a site notice at or near to the site. The Council will also notify the Parish Council.

A Planning Officer will visit the site and then consider any responses received from neighbours / the Parish Council before considering the proposal in light of the Council’s Local Plan. Following this, the Planning Officer will write a recommendation to either a Senior Officer or the Planning Committee and then a decision will be issued.

How can I check on progress?

Most Councils provide information on their website in respect of the planning applications, such as important dates, consultee and neighbour responses allowing you to track the process online.

What happens if my application is refused?

If an application is refused, there is a right to appeal the decision. The appeal is dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate (PINS), who appoint an independent Inspector to consider the appeal. (Alternatively, you may wish to consider submitting an alternative application that overcomes the reason(s) for the refusal of your original application).

How do I appeal against a planning decision?

An appeal must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate within a specified time limit. For domestic development, an appeal must be submitted within 12 weeks of the Council’s decision, and for other development, within 6 months of the Council’s decision.

The appeal should be accompanied by a statement setting out the reason(s) as to why the proposed development should be granted planning permission.

Can planning permission be extended or changed?

The time limit to implement a planning permission cannot be extended beyond the time limit stated in the permission. A permission can be changed so long as the changes do not significantly change the scope of the permission.

Can planning permission be revoked or withdrawn?

A Council can seek to revoke a planning permission through a revocation order, as long as the development has not been completed.

Will planning permission add value to my property or land?

Typically land/property value increases with planning permission.

What is a listed building and how does owning a listed building affect me?

A building is listed if it is of special architectural and historic interest and requires protection for future generations. The listing covers the whole building and can also include outbuildings.

Listing means that there is additional control over what alterations can be made to the building, both internally and externally. Listed building consent, which is a similar process to a planning application, is required for most types of work in relation to alterations to listed buildings.

What is a conservation area and how does it affect my property?

Conservation areas, like listed buildings, are designated to protect the special architectural and historic interest of an area. The designation provides additional protection to preserve the historic and architectural interest of an area.

Living in a Conservation Area can mean that you may need to submit an application for works that ordinarily wouldn’t need permission. In addition, the Council will need to be notified before works to trees can be carried out.

What happens if I have carried out development without planning permission?

If work has been carried out that needs planning permission, but doesn’t have planning permission, then it is considered to be unauthorised or unlawful (in breach of planning control) and could be subject to an enforcement investigation by the Council.