Plans and Permissions

Most projects will require planning permission from the local authorities - details of their requirements can be obtained by contacting the local authority or visiting their website. A good starting point for information is the government Planning Portal site which contains a wealth of information about requirements plus links for all councils in England and Wales and provision for on-line applications.

How the planning permission process works

The process begins with an individual householder or business or other organisation deciding to develop some land or a property. The first thing to do is check with the local planning authority that the development does require planning permission. The authority planning department will be able to point out if there are any obvious problems with the proposal, and perhaps suggest adjustments which could help to gain the permission.

PlansIf there is much detail to be looked into, it may be sensible to make an 'outline' application first. If that is approved a more detailed application, with full architect's drawings, can be put forward later.

The local planning authority will aim to determine a planning application within eight weeks of it being validated. However, they may request to extend this period. For example, this could occur if the issues involved are complex or a lot of people are affected by the proposed development.

When a refusal results, the applicant has the option of lodging an appeal. This will be heard and decided by a Planning Inspector. On rare occasions the original application will be 'called in' or the decision on appeal will be 'recovered' by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) (previously Department of Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR)) for the Secretary of State's decision.

An appeal can also be lodged if the permission is granted subject to conditions to which the applicant objects or if the local planning authority fail to determine the application within the eight week period (or the agreed deadline if this period was extended)

Applying for Planning Permission

Contact the planning department of your council. Tell the planning staff what you want to do and ask for their advice.

  • If they think you need to apply for planning permission, ask them for an application form. Also ask if they foresee any difficulties which could be overcome by amending your proposal. It can save time or trouble later if the proposals you want to carry out also reflect what the council would like to see. They will tell you how many copies of the form you will need to send back and how much the application fee will be. Some councils are now operating an online applications service. This means that you will be able to submit your form and pay your fee over the internet if you wish.
  • Decide what type of application you need to make. In most cases this will be a full application but there are a few circumstances when you may want to make an outline application - for example, if you want to see what the council thinks of the building work you intend to carry out before you go to the trouble of making detailed drawings (but you will still need to submit details at a later stage). Depending on your local council, outline applications may require a different form.
  • Send the completed application forms to your council, together with the correct fee. Each form must be accompanied by a plan of the site and a copy of the drawings showing the work you propose to carry out. (The council will advise you on exactly what drawings are needed, and how many copies of each).

What to submit for a planning application

Your application must be accompanied by a plan of the site, details of any proposed works and the fee. At least three copies of the form and plans are required, although some councils may ask for more. You must also complete a certificate to confirm that you own the land or have notified all owners of the land.


The local council will be able to advise you about costs relative to your project - you can also establish these by using the cost calculator provided in the government Planning Portal web site.

Conservation Area Restrictions
If your property falls into a conservation area or, in the case of a renovation project on an old building which is listed, you are likely to find many restrictions on what you can do and the materials you can use. These restrictions will often add considerably to your costs, so it is important to take these into consideration right from the start of the project.


Find your local Planning Authority

Scottish Building Standards Agency


Acknowledgement: Content for this page has been extracted in part from the ODPM and the Planning Portal websites - please visit these sites for more detailed information and guidance on all related matters.



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