Unless you’re an experienced property developer, chances are that you find applying for and successfully gaining planning permission a stressful experience. The application must be thorough, accurate and relevant, but even with all of this managed correctly, many applications are denied. So how best to approach the task at hand to maximise the chances of success? Follow these top tips…
Apply through the simplest channel possible
The easiest way to apply for planning permission is to do so online through the Gov.UK Planning Portal. This website, which is run by the British Government and links directly through to the relevant LPA (Local Planning Authority) for each area. The Planning Portal presents the applicant with a series of easy-to-navigate questions to establish the type of application required. Once the system has determined which type of application is required, it provides the appropriate forms to be completed, gives prompts for the relevant documents and drawings to be attached and in some cases, allows for the relevant fee to be paid. The form can be saved at any point and returned to later for completion. For extensions and alterations, a simplified process known as the ‘householder application’ can be made that requires considerably less information to be submitted.
If any planned renovation, demolition or conversion works are intended to take place on a property that is listed or situated in a conservation area, further applications will be required. These too can be done through the online Planning Portal but it may be best to liaise first with the relevant LPA to ensure that the relevant planning requirements can be met.
If you’d prefer to undergo the planning application process manually, written on paper and offline, ensure that you know upfront exactly how many duplicate copies will be required (including some extras for you) – as re-writing these will take up lots of unnecessary extra time!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and communicate
While the LPA is an often-feared party by those making planning applications, their job is actually to support those making them.
LPAs should always have staff on-hand to ask questions and to advise on how realistic it is that any aspect of a planning application will be accepted. Don’t be afraid to ask if they envisage any potential problems in the future – if they do, you can plan for and around these. Involving the LPA right from the beginning of a project for expansion, redevelopment, conversion or renovation can help influence the planned works in a way that ensures it is most likely to progress as planned, to budget and on time. When a planning application is being discussed and reviewed, an LPA is more likely to look favourably upon it if they have already judged a willingness to comply from the applicant and are already familiar with the plans.
Understand first whether you need planning permission or not
It’s unfortunately not uncommon for homeowners and/or developers to apply for planning permission when they don’t actually require it; unnecessarily delaying their project. There a series of complex permissions that sit under the category of General Permitted Development Orders that grant blanket consent for certain types of property projects. Some extensions, the erection of garden outbuildings and a variety of change of use conversions are covered by Permitted Development Orders and so no planning permission needs to be granted.
Those looking to embark on a development, conversion or renovation project should first research into whether their planned works are covered by these orders. If so, the work may be able to begin with limited or no approval process undergone. If consulted and agreed, LPAs will provide a Lawful Development Certificate to confirm that a project in their area is covered by Permitted Developments and that no further approval is needed.
Learn planning jargon
As with many industries, there is lots of jargon specific to planning developments and applications. It is critical that when making an application you understand this language and therefore are able to complete your application accurately.
The naming of documents varies between LPAs and so if you’re unsure of any words or terms used, ask them before any application is filed to ensure that only the relevant items are being completed and attached. However, there are lots of phrases and terms that have clearly defined meanings countrywide: including area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), conservation area (CA), green belt and listing categories. Misunderstanding any of these phrases could result in a planning application being completed incorrectly and delaying the approval and/or project start.
Ensure you are prepared with planning reports
Depending on the nature of your planning application, it may need to be accompanied by different reports. These may include flood risk assessment, tree surveys, planning statements, design statements, heritage statement, traffic statements, noise surveys, archaeological reports, sustainability plans, highways and sightlines statements or soil contamination analysis.
Planning reports are only required in specific circumstances, but a developer experienced in property projects and/or the LPA will be able to advise in advance which reports will be needed and when. Some of these reports should be compiled by a specialist professional or agency and so sufficient time for the survey, analysis and report completion must be factored in to the project timeline. In most circumstances, if the report isn’t favourable toward the development, it will include suggestions for improvements and/or changes that can be made to facilitate more acceptable standards.
It is only natural that you feel some trepidation toward filing a planning application as the success of your property project could well rely on the outcome. However, in approaching the application with as much information as possible and working smartly, asking for help and support where it may be of benefit, you will be in the best possible position to seek success. Planning doesn’t need to be punishing – just embark on the process as educated and as open-minded as possible, and your forethought and planning will be rewarded.
Don’t let the fear of planning put you off. With our end to end process Refresh Renovations will navigate the full process with you, making your home renovation project as simple, straightforward and stress free as possible. Get in touch today to find out how we can help you.