Extensions planning permission: how to get it and why you need it

Planning permission approved

Have you got a big project in mind that you are excited to start? There may be a few necessary hurdles to jump over before you can go full steam ahead.

Whether you’re building something new or making a major change to your home, such as extending, it’s likely you will need to obtain planning permission before you can begin.

This is a necessary legal step that allows local councils to ensure building work does not have a negative sociological or environmental impact. Carrying out a development without planning permission may lead to enforcement action – so always check before starting any works.

Extensions planning permission: the basics

“In our experience, planning permission is probably the area homeowners are least clued up on,” says Karen Bell, creative director of design company David Salisbury. “While some small extensions don’t require permission, always check your proposed measurements via the online planning portal; especially as the guidelines for exemption can vary in different locations.” 

Permitted development rights allow you to carry out certain home improvements, but are generally limited to single-storey extensions measuring no more than 4m high and 8m long for a detached house, or 6m for any other. There are a number of other limiting conditions, so always do your research. 

If your chosen project doesn’t fall into permitted development, and needs planning permission, it’s worth considering using a planning agent to prepare your plans, submit your application and be your point of contact.

“Unless you’ve done it before, the process can be quite difficult to get right. Using a planning agent may cost a little more, but it is likely to be money well spent in return for an increased chance of a successful outcome and peace of mind,” advises Brian Glasson, South Gloucestershire council service director for planning.

Architectural plans need to be submitted when applying for planning permission
Photography: iStock.com / GeorgiMironi

Can I apply for planning permission myself?

If you wish to proceed without an agent, you’ll need to get in touch with your local planning authority via your council.

Alternatively, you can apply online to each of the local authorities in England using the Planning Portal (planningportal.co.uk). Here you’ll find step-by-step guidance and you will usually hear back about your application within eight weeks. Bear in mind you will need to pay a fee of £200.

Speak to your neighbours before making any changes to your home, to see if they have done anything similar – this can be a good indication of how successful your application may be and what builds are acceptable in your area.

It’s also important to get their views on your application before you go ahead with it. “Chat to your immediate neighbours about the proposed works and ask for their thoughts,” says Liz Alexander, planning manager at Octagon Developments. “This can help alleviate objections and save relationships. Receiving a planning notice through the letterbox isn’t the friendliest way to find out about next door’s extension.”

Even if you’ve done your research and taken the necessary steps to apply for planning permission, try not to be disheartened if it is initially rejected – it might not be the end of the road. “Over 90% of householder applications are approved, but sometimes a scheme will be judged to have an unacceptable impact,” says Brian. “Where possible, we will suggest how it can be amended. If it is refused, you do have the option of an appeal, so the decision of the council can be reassessed independently.”

Enjoyed this post? Check out these virtual kitchen planning tools to help plan your renovation

Featured image: iStock.com / Rawf8

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