Last blog we looked at Stage 2 - 3D Modelling - of the five stages for a home build or redesign. Here we look at the third stage, navigating the Planning Process.
Obtaining Planning Permission should not be a lengthy and stressful process. Using the advice and guidance of a good architectural designer can help smooth the process and, ultimately, achieve your dream build within the framework of planning regulations.
One of the first steps is to find out whether you actually need Planning Permission. Some modifications, such as loft conversions, can normally be undertaken through Permitted Development and so avoid the need for Planning Permission.
Nonetheless, Permitted Development builds should always obtain a Lawful Development Certificate, which acts as a legal confirmation that your works did not require planning permission. This can be particularly useful if you are planning to sell your home later on!
Another early step to take is to talk to your neighbours about your plans. If your build requires Planning Permission then the council will inform your neighbours anyway so it is normally best to discuss your plans in person with them first. This enables you to, firstly, explain your motivations for the build so that they understand the logic behind it and, secondly, reach an understanding on issues such as access via their property during the build, or Party Wall agreements.
Both the Planning Portal and your local Council’s website will offer a wealth of information available online. Take the time to read through it – even if you are not managing the Planning process yourself, the better informed you are the more likely you will be to understand alternative design concepts and keep your project moving at full speed.
The Planning Application Process – Step by Step:
Generally speaking, the Planning Application process can be broken down into six key stages:
1 – Pre-application advice, the application and validation
This initial stage deals with determining if Planning Permission is needed, submitting the application and paying the Planning fees. Government targets have been set for Local Planning Authorities to deal with applications within 13 weeks for major projects and 8 weeks for minor ones.
2 - Consultation and publicity
The consultations period lasts up to 21 days. Depending on the type and size of your application, the Council may consult using one or more of the following methods:
3 – Site visit and assessment
The site is inspected and the application assessed by a Planning Case Officer, taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations. Where relevant, the Planning Officer will also gather any site specific information such as photographs. You do not necessarily need to be at home for this but the Planning Case Officer will most likely need full access around the site, so you may need to leave a side gate open if you are not there.
4 - Negotiation
If problems are identified that can be addressed through alterations to the proposal, the Planning Case Officer will contact you to seek suitable amendments.
5 - Recommendation
The Planning Officer will make a recommendation on whether your application should be approved or not. A copy of the report will not be published on the Planning Portal but you can request to receive one.
6 - Decision
A decision is taken on the application. Approved applications will often have conditions attached that must be complied with. If your application is refused and you do not believe the decision was correct then you do have the right to appeal.
Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate, an independent government body. You may also re-submit modified designs once free of charge, provided this is done within 12 months of the decision.
Generally speaking, working with a good architectural designer or planning adviser, and heeding the advice of your Planning Case Officer will mean that your application is accepted, albeit with conditions attached. Moreover, putting in the necessary time during the design phase and keeping a somewhat flexible approach can save you both time and money in the long run.
Next up: Stage 4 - The structural elements and Building Control.