Churchill magazine

How to get planning permission

Updated on: 4 February 2021

planning permission

The planning system in the UK is designed to help protect the environment in our towns and cities, and in the countryside. Your local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether a building project to your home – an extension, for example – can go ahead or not. This also gives people who may be affected by your proposed development a chance to have their say.

When might I need to apply for planning permission?

Most new buildings, or major changes to existing buildings or to the local environment, need to get planning permission. Some common household projects that may need planning permission include installation of, or building work to:

  • All listed buildings
  • All buildings in designated areas (Conservation Areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty)
  • Extensions and additions
  • External and party walls
  • Roofs
  • Conservatories
  • Solar panels or wind turbines
  • Patios and driveways
  • Dormer windows
  • Party walls or internal walls
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Underpinning and foundations

For an overview of when you need planning permission for works to your house, you can visit a handy interactive ‘Householder’s Guide’ at the Planning Portal. You can also find links to common projects and helpful guides on the Planning Portal website. For specific situations or applications, you should contact your local authority for further advice.

How do I make an application?

You apply to your council for planning permission. You can also apply for planning permission online at the Planning Portal website. Key areas that are looked at include:

  • The number, size, layout, position and external appearance of buildings.
  • The proposed means of access, landscaping and impact on the neighbourhood.
  • The availability of infrastructure, such as roads and water supply.
  • The proposed use of the development.

Who makes the application?

You can make the planning application yourself or appoint an agent (an architect, solicitor or builder) to do it for you. Anyone can make an application, irrespective of who owns the land. But all owners, part owners, leaseholders and agricultural tenants must be informed and a certificate produced to verify this.

Your application must also be accompanied by a plan of the site, details of any proposed works and the fee. Most applications request at least two copies of the form and plans, although some councils may ask for more (so always check this before you submit your application). 

How long does it take?

The council should decide on your application within eight weeks. Large or complex applications may take longer. In both cases they may request to extend this period, especially if a lot of people are affected by the proposed development. 

Does planning permission affect my home insurance?

If you do any building work to your home, whether you need planning permission or not, you should always let your insurer know. The work you do could increase the value of your home, which could then affect your insurance premium. The last thing you want is to underinsure your extended property.

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