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How to get Planning Permission

6 March 2018
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Eugene Kim

book image for potted history section on blog re How to get planning permissionRead on to learn how to get planning permission.

How to get Planning Permission: Your Complete Guide

Planning permission defined

Unlike some countries, the UK has planning control in place via lawful planning applications. This is to ensure that local respective developments are kept in character with the area. This would apply to any new build or a significant change to an existing building, but not to simple maintenance. These applications would go to your local planning authority (unless you live in a national park, in which case they would go to the national park authority). [You can email or call us via the contact below, if you would like us to explain the differences with retrospective planning permission, define outline planning permission or any other discussion on planning law.]

Potted History

Pots image for potted history section on blog re How to get planning permissionThe history of planning permission is interesting.

These requirements have been in place since the first half of the 20th century, although some significant changes occurred in the 40s which gave a lot more control to local planning authorities than the previous central system. These were also the beginning of Permitted Development. The idea was to make simple developments easier for owner-occupier families which would in turn ease pressure on the housing stock in a growing population. (This has been a good prediction, because additional pressure may not have been predicted due to the migrant factor in growing and cosmopolitan cities. Temporary residents would go for rentals, making the rental market buoyant, and not easing the housing pressure generally.) But the history of planning to some began with the lovely story about Henry the Eight riding to his favourite viewpoint on a hill beyond Hampton Court, where you can see all the way to St Paul’s Cathedral on a clear day. The king created an edict that nothing should ever block the view. This protected view was arguably the first ever Conservation Policy, to conserve the view.

Do you need it?


If it is only the inside of your house you are changing, you would not need permission. However, if you are changing windows, doors or adding velux skylights, that is the exterior and it would be safer to check than risk an enforcement. This is especially the case if you live in a conservation area. If it is just the interior, you will need to make an application to Building Control if you are removing part of a structural wall, though not if you are adding or removing a stud wall. [Building Control is concerned about the safety of a build, whereas planning departments are look-ing at the aesthetics, and humanities logistics such as traffic congestion etc. Call us to discuss questions such as whether or not you would need conservatory planning permission, or planning permission for extension work.

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How to get Planning Permission

You will need to make an application to the local planning department. For full planning per-mission, you will need professional architectural drawings, whereas with PD you need a sketch and a statement of intent. [One risk with PD is that if your builder goes over by as little as 5cm, you could risk enforcement. So although the council fee is slightly higher for a full planning application, it is sometimes worth it for the flexibility of amendments.]

You can make the application yourself or you can ask your architect or planner to submit for you. Contact your local authority or go online to look at their fees, or ask your architect to sort all that out. Some architects do not charge for submission and liaison with the planning officers on your behalf. [Do choose an architect who is able to also create Building Regulations Drawings later for Building Control, once you get your planning through, to give you the benefits of a one-stop shop.]


The benefits of the pre-planning application (or pre-app.) route are that instead of going to full planning and facing refusal, you are given valuable pre-app. advice by the officer. Another plus is that your neighbours cannot see your pre-app., whereas they can see your full application as public information. If you use an architect or planning consultant as your agent, they will attend the pre-app. meeting on your behalf. Some agents will take a second, less contentious option along, in case they officer is concerned about your more ambitious first option. (Pre-planning used to be called outline planning.)

Deciding Factors on How to get Planning Permission

The main contentions are overlooking habitable rooms, overshadowing natural light and overmassing or bulky designs. Your planning consultant or architect should be able to discuss with you the limits and how to address these issues. If you are looking for plots of land for sale with planning permission, do see our articles on the subject. [Incidentally, for those of our enquirers who are interested in land with planning permission, we network with developers and investors who can facilitate your proposal once a Feasibility Study has been undertaken].

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FAQ: “How long does it take?”

For timeframes such as how long it takes, have a look at our article on timescales. (This article is also about planning appeals, and answers the question: “How long does planning permission last?”) You can also see more information on the Planning Portal, or call us if you have been asking: “How much is planning permission?”

Contact Us for How to
get Planning Permission

If you would like to speak to someone about your ideas, London architects Extension Architecture have both planning consultants and architects in-house, so whatever your question or project, we have lots of experience to help you. Call us on 0203 409 4215 and arrange a visit to our offices, where we will show you a presentation of our recently approved projects. Alternatively, leave your details via the button below, and our planning team will give you a free consultation and quotation.

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Eugene Kim

Eugene Kim, Founder and Managing Director of Extension Architecture, has led the firm for over 14 years, consistently delivering quality solutions. His dedication has been key to the company's growth and success.

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