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Are you prepared for planning?

While it can seem that securing planning consent is a dark art, it’s a linear, straightforward process – and there’s plenty you can do in advance to get your plans over the line.

Not so fast…

First, do you actually need planning consent? The relevant laws have changed dramatically in recent years – Permitted Development Rights are literally transforming the landscape – and the tide has turned so that developers and landowners have more scope to achieve their goals.

Certainly, building a new property from scratch will require consent, but adapting, expanding and converting can often be a done deal.

“Do your homework: check interactive.planningportal.co.uk to see if you need planning or not.”

Naturally protected

You’re likely to struggle to get anything but very modest plans approved in the following areas:

  • Conservation area
  • National park
  • Area of outstanding natural beauty
  • SSSI

Test the water

What many don’t realise is that you’re welcome – and often actively encouraged – to discuss your plans with the local authority before submitting an application to see how it’s likely to be received. They’ll offer you feedback and it’s worth paying close attention to any concerns as this will enable you and your team to put together a more attractive proposal.

Note: their feedback will be non-binding and they reserve the right to contradict themselves.

Strength in numbers

When we mentioned ‘your team’ in the above section, we meant your architects. It’s not worth trying to navigate the planning process without them and they’ll be able to articulate your proposal’s vision in a language that the planners will understand. And they’ll almost certainly add value and offer ideas that you may not have considered.

Types of permission

Not all planning permission requirements are the same…

Residential extension? Householder Planning Permission.

Large scheme? Full Planning Consent.

Listed building? Listed Building Consent.

Also, on a permitted development, a certificate of lawfulness may be required.

What you’ll need to prepare

Your architect will know exactly how to create the necessary drawings and their work will centre around the location and site plans. These are two critical documents that give the planners all the details they need about the area and the proposed development. In addition, you’ll be asked for existing and proposed floorplans and elevations. You may also wish to supply CGI graphics if you feel that this will help your application.

Lending weight to your application

Larger developments will often be required to also submit documents including:

  • Planning Statement
  • Design and Access Statement
  • Heritage Report
  • Flood Risk Assessment.

What they’ll consider

The planning department will look at factors known as Material Considerations, which can include:

  • Nature conservation
  • Proposals in the Development Plan
  • Highway safety
  • Design, appearance, and materials
  • Loss of privacy
  • Layout and density of building
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Traffic levels
  • Noise consideration
  • Parking provision
  • Government policy
  • Disabled persons’ access
  • Previous planning decisions (including appeal decisions)

Waiting game

Despite the recent updates to planning regulations, there’s still a lengthy wait involved in the process. Don’t expect a response within a month – most applications take eight weeks to assess – and during that time, the planning department will consult with any relevant neighbours and stakeholders.

If you’ve left anything out from your application, the planners will let you know (without penalty).

The consent will be decided on material considerations (see above) and if your architect has shown that you’ve considered (accounted for or mitigated against) these factors, you’re in with a very strong chance of securing the consent you need. If you get the consent, you’re free to begin building. If not, all is not lost as you’re able to resubmit or even appeal against a rejection.

Ultimately, planning applications are nothing to be intimidated by. They’re judged against freely available criteria and if you can ‘tick the relevant boxes’, you’ve got a very good chance of success. And don’t forget, there’s a fair chance that you won’t need the permission in the first place.

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Author: Ian Stratford

With extensive experience, Ian deals with all aspects of land and development opportunities working closely with a diverse range of landowners and housebuilders to ensure that their goals and aims are achieved and our very best in service delivery standards are met.

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