How do I apply for planning permission?

Planning permission is granted by a local authority planning committee made up of elected councillors who act, if they choose, on the recommendations of the planning officers.

Planning decisions can often seem arbitrary and inconsistent. But you can prepare the way for your submission, and gain an idea of its likely reception, by an initial chat with the local planning officer.

If it looks as though permission won’t be granted, think of hiring a specialist planning consultant. SelfBuild & Design magazine offers free advice on planning matters through planning specialist Roy Speer.

You can apply online through the Planning Portal website, which is the most efficient route, or you can download forms either from the Planning Portal site or your local authority website.

Be prepared to compromise and negotiate. If it looks like things are going wrong, it’s better to withdraw and resubmit a revised application than get a refusal on your record.

If you are refused, you have 12 months to submit revised proposals without paying another application fee. Alternatively, you can appeal to the Secretary of State.

Full details of how to make a planning application are detailed on the planning portal website.

What is the difference between outline and detailed planning?

Outline Planning Permission (OPP)

Outline planning permission means approval in principle has been granted for a dwelling to be built.

Only rough details of the design are needed, though there may be restrictions imposed relating to the height and size of the dwelling.

Detailed Planning Permission (DPP)

Detailed planning permission is approval of precise plans of the proposed development. This gives you the right to actually start building.

When planning permission is granted a condition is normally attached advising the applicant how long the planning permission is valid for. This is usually three years and work must start within that time.

Can I start work immediately after gaining planning permission?

You will need to apply for Building Regulations consent first. This is basically to ensure that your house is built according to the legal requirements for construction. In other words, it won’t leak, collapse, catch fire or sink into the ground.

A structural engineer’s calculations may also be required. A building inspector will turn up at various stages of your build to check things are being done correctly. If he decides they aren’t, he is legally empowered to order you to re-do them.

Don’t forget that any planning conditions, such as approval for materials, will have to be met before work on site commences.