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Planning Permission in England

Information in this section explains what to do when you need planning permission. Find out where to apply and what may count as permitted development.

PLANNING PERMISSION UK: As a general rule, you will need planning permission any time you want to:

  • Build or construct something new.
  • Change the use of an existing building.
  • Make major changes to a building (e.g. build an extension to the property).

The majority of planning and building control applications get submitted online.

A ‘Planning Portal‘ allows you to apply to every local authority in England and Wales.

In some cases, the development will need planning permission ‘andbuilding regulations approval. But, in fact they are two separate applications that both need applying for.

This is important because you would need to create two separate accounts. You can set this up if you need to apply for planning permission in England and wales.

Note: Your local planning authority will help if a project needs planning permission. You may also need to check the planning system in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Applying for Planning Permission

You should not start any work until you get planning permission (if your project needs it). The LPA can serve ‘planning enforcement notices‘ to people who get caught. The notice can order you to ‘undo‘ any changes you already made.

Note: Ignoring an enforcement notice is illegal but you can make an appeal against it. You can apply for planning permission online using the ‘Applications Planning Portal‘.

When Planning Permission is Not Needed

There are some building projects that do not require any permissions at all. Having ‘permitted development rights‘ means planning permission is not needed.

As a rule, types of building projects that have permitted development rights include:

  • Industrial premises and warehouses (some limits and conditions apply).
  • Some advertisements and outdoor signage (special rules apply in certain cases).
  • Demolition. But, you must get local planning authority approval to demolish before you begin.

Certain other projects may also go ahead without planning permission. As a rule, to meet the ruling they must have no impact on the environment or your neighbours.

A local planning authority can confirm if a project can go ahead without permission.

Community Rights in England

Exceptions also apply if a building project benefits the local community. In other words, your local community must support it.

In such cases, going through the usual planning permission process may be unnecessary.

Note: Neighbourhood planning and Community Right to Build allows a community to grant planning permission ‘directly’ under certain circumstances.

Local Planning Authority Decisions

It is up to the local planning authority to decide whether to grant planning permission. They do so based on the development plan for each individual project. The LPA do not take into account whether people in your area actually want it to go ahead or not.

Thus, the determining factors on whether a planning application fits with its development plan include:

  • The number of buildings, the size, its layout, siting, and the external appearance.
  • What infrastructure is available in the vicinity (e.g. mains water supply and roadways).
  • Whether there would be any need for extra landscaping.
  • The reason for the usage of the new development.
  • How the development would affect the surrounding area (e.g. would it create a lot more traffic).

As a rule, most planning applications get decided within 6 to 8 weeks. The time limit for very large or complex applications can be up to 13 weeks in England. Applicants can appeal if the local planning authority take longer to give you a decision.

Note: The Housing Secretary outlined new proposals that place further requirements for new developments to meet local standards for beauty, design, and quality.

Appeal a Planning Decision

What if the LPA refuses an application for planning permission in England and Wales? The first step is to try and reach an agreement with the local planning authority. In some cases this may mean adjusting the plans.

You may be able to appeal if you cannot reach an agreement. But, most planning permission and appeals can take several months to get a final decision.

Note: A different section explains how to appeal a planning decision application in greater detail.

Valid Reasons to Appeal

Applicants can only make an appeal against a local planning authority decision if the LPA:

  • Refuses the application.
  • Grants permission but with conditions that the applicant objects to.
  • Refuses to change or remove a condition of planning permission that got granted with conditions.
  • Refuses to approve something reserved under an ‘outline permission‘. This refers to the planning permission of a general idea and not of a specific plan.
  • Refuses to approve something that previously said you could build. That means the previous planning permission got granted ‘with conditions‘ and the current development was one of the conditions.
  • Does not make a decision on the application within the deadline (and do not get written consent to change the deadline).
  • Serves the applicant with a planning enforcement notice because they think they broke the planning permission (and the applicant disagrees).

Applying for Planning Permission in England and Wales