What is Planning Permission and Why Do I Need It?


Extensions are a common thing for homeowners. Whether you’re looking to add an extra bedroom in the roof, extend the kitchen, or invest in a property for development, most people will initiate or experience work on a house at some point in their lives.

One essential part of starting a project on a property, before the work has even begun, is getting planning permission. Many types of work will require it, and failure to secure it before building could result in serious consequences, such as the work having to be undone, or affecting a future sale of the house.

What is planning permission?

What exactly is planning permission? In short, it is the ‘consent’ you need from your local council to be able to build on or change the use of land and buildings. Permission will either be granted - sometimes subject to certain conditions - or refused.

Anyone can make an application, regardless of who the land or building owner is, but if you are not the owner or only have part-ownership, you must inform the owner or person(s) you share ownership with.

The permission is bound to the land, not the person who applied for it, meaning that anyone can carry out the work proposed. This is why some properties are sold with planning permission - and details to the approved work - as it can help increase their value.

The primary responsibility for planning falls to the local planning authorities, usually a department in your local council. Because of this, any queries need to be run by said local planning authority as they will be the ones you will apply to.

When planning on doing work to your home, it is your responsibility to apply or not apply for planning permission. It is suggested that you should seek it before any work begins.

In some cases, the work may fall under permitted development, and in this instance, you will not need to apply for planning permission.

Why do I need planning permission?

If you are planning to significantly extend your home, add outbuildings, or similar work, there is a high chance the project will require planning permission.

If your intended work does require planning permission, but you do not obtain it and carry out the changes anyway, you can be served an enforcement notice ordering you to undo all changes made.

With this in mind, the risk isn’t worth the inconvenience and financial headache, so it’s best to find out if your project needs planning permission, apply for it, and wait for approval before starting.

Carrying out unapproved work can also become an issue if you choose to sell your house. There are various checks carried out on properties, and the lack of approval will be flagged, and likely result in a sale falling through.

When buying a property, you should always check that any work has planning permission to prevent you buying a house that you will struggle to sell on in the future or hefty bills to have the work undone.

Outline permission or full planning permission?

Full planning permission is applied for the approval of a complete design, including the layout, appearance, scale, and amount of the development. This also includes any landscaping and the proposed access to the site.

Outline planning permission grants, in essence, construction and works on a property subject to certain design conditions. The information required for an outline application has to be incredibly detailed, meaning that many decide to go with a full application instead.

However, gaining outline planning permission can be preferable if you’re seeking it for valuation purposes, i.e., to help increase the asking price on your property when selling, or if a full planning application isn’t financially viable.

If outline planning permission is obtained, the submission of reserved matters must occur within three years of the outline approval date.

The best course of action

If you want to carry out any work on your property, it is always best to check if it will need planning permission and obtain it where necessary.

Although the planning process can be lengthy, it is worth it to avoid substantial problems in the long run, like action from the council or difficulty selling.

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