Under regulations set out in the Town and Country Planning Act and subsequent legislation, we must apply for consent to undertake work deemed to be ‘development’ for the purposes of the Act. The definition of development may simply include a change of use or it might involve building works or, in some cases, demolition.
Sometimes development might be allowed under what are referred to as ‘permitted development rights’ and in such cases planning permission may not be needed for specific works or changes in use. These rights can, however, be revoked and in specific areas, such as conservation areas, many of them have been.
If you are unsure of whether you need planning permission you might decide to establish this by applying for a certificate of lawful use. Alternatively, you might decide to apply for consent by means of a planning application.
Most small applications should be heard by the planning committee within 8 weeks although it’s not unusual for applications to be decided by planning officers using ‘delegated powers’. Larger applications have longer timescales associated with the consultation and decision-making process and the amount of information a planning authority may request generally increases year on year.
Planning applications are normally made online through the online planning portal. Each application must include a location plan, site plan, a completed application form and any supporting information required. This might include a Design Impact Statement or additional environmental reports addressing everything from flooding to bat and badger activity.
An application for a development of say 15 new homes might require accompanying ground reports, environmental impact studies including reports on badger and bat activity plus reports on highway movements, archeological reports, flood reports, and associated reports. There may also be requirements on the developer to enter into what are known as S106 agreements.
Alternatively, an application for a simple house extension might require no formal planning application or a simple online application with site and location plan, indicative drawing and some description of the works involved.
In most cases it is worthwhile employing the services of a draftsman or architect with experience in the type of development you propose and in the area in which you are active. Local knowledge is very helpful. In addition to his fees you will be required to pay an application fee and submit the application and supporting information in accordance with the local planning authority’s regulations.
Before submitting a planning formal application it is worth considering the appropriate policies set out in the local development plan. You may even want to speak with planning officer responsible for the area concerned.
If your proposal is in contradiction to these policies you are unlikely to obtain planning consent without a battle – perhaps including an expensive planning appeal. If this is the case consider taking professional advice. This might require that you also employ the services of a specialist Town Planning Consultant to act on your behalf in conjunction with your architect.