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A Short Guide: Planning Permission in UK

Published by Sanjay Gautam
Published Date: August 18, 2023

Planning permission in the UK is the process by which local planning authorities regulate and control the development of Land and buildings. It ensures that development projects adhere to certain standards, regulations, and guidelines to balance the interests of property owners, the community, and the environment.

The UK occupier of Land or buildings will need planning title or permission as per the Town and Country Planning Act,1947. Planning permission is likely required if you intend to:

  • Construct a new structure.
  • Implement significant alterations to your existing building, such as adding an extension.
  • Modify the purpose of your building, leading to a change in its use.

Enforcement notice will be served & you have to revert all the alterations implemented if you start any project requiring planning permission. In this article, we will discuss some key points about planning permission in the UK:

Local Planning Authority (LPA)

Planning Permission

A Local Planning Authority (LPA) is a local government body entrusted with the right to exercise urban planning functions for a particular area. It is responsible for making decisions about planning applications and regulating land use and development within its jurisdiction. The local planning authority, usually the local council, grants planning permission. Each council has its planning policies and guidelines, which applicants must follow.

The local planning authority in the UK serves several important functions related to land use, development, and the built environment within its jurisdiction.

Types of Development

Planning permission is required if a significant change is required for land or buildings. Planning permission is typically required for various types of development, such as:

  • Construction of new buildings
  • Extensions of property
  • Conversions
  • Changing the usage of land or building
  • Alteration of the appearance of an existing building.

Permitted Development

Some minor changes to properties can be made without formal planning permission, commonly known as Permitted Development. A lawful Development Certificate must be obtained from the Planning Portal to confirm the proposal is permitted for development.

Permitted developments are more restricted in designated areas such as conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, and National Parks.

However, permitted development rights can vary depending on the location and property type, so it's important to check with the local authority. Permitted development rights can be removed by LPA by issuing Article 4 directions. These directions are issued when the character of an area of acknowledged importance is threatened. Certain types of work or changes of use may require to apply for prior approval before commencing development.

Application Process

A planning application is decided as per the development plan. An applicant submits a planning application to the local planning authority to obtain planning permission. The application includes detailed information about the proposed development, which includes:

  •  Detailed Plans
  •  Drawings & Designs
  •  Legal Agreements
  •  Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
  •  Design and Access Statement
  •  Economic Statement
  •  Noise Assessment Report
  •  Transport Assessment Report
  •  Heritage & Visual Impact Assessment
  •  Flood Assessment Report
  •  Energy Assessment Report

The above list is not exhaustive, and some applications require less documentation, whereas others will require additional documentation. There is usually a fee associated with submitting an application.

Consultation

For larger or more complex developments, the local authority may require a period of public consultation where views on the proposed development can be expressed. The formal consultation period will normally last 21 days, and the local planning authority will identify and consult several groups. This allows residents and stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposal before deciding. The main types of public consultation are:

  • Public consultation, which includes consultation with neighbouring residents and community groups.
  • Statutory consultees where the law requires consultation with a specific body.
  • Non-statutory consultees include consultation with relevant stakeholders interested in the proposed development.

Decision Timeframe

The local planning authority (LPA) has a specific timeframe to review and decide on the planning application. This timeframe can vary, but the authority must provide a decision within a certain number of weeks. Planning permission is based on the development plan & the local planning authority will assess the number of factors to give a decision.

  • Determining the quantity, dimensions, arrangement, placement, and outward presentation of structures.
  • Evaluating the existing infrastructure, encompassing roads and water provision.
  • Addressing any requirements for landscaping.
  • Defining the intended purpose of the development.
  • Analysing the potential impact of the development on the neighbouring region, including aspects like increased traffic congestion.

In most cases, planning applications are decided within 8 weeks. In England, the time limit is 13 weeks for unusually large or complex applications. If the decision takes longer, you can appeal.

Planning Application Decision

Planning application Decision

When deciding on planning applications, the responsibility lies with the elected representatives known as 'Members' of the local planning authority. However, in many instances, these authorities empower their planning officers with 'delegated powers' to make decisions on their behalf, particularly for routine cases. For larger or more contentious applications, the final judgment is more likely to rest with the elected members themselves.

The local authority can grant planning permission, refuse permission, or grant permission with conditions. Conditions may include requirements for specific design elements, materials, or environmental considerations. Local planning authority (LPA) on granting planning permission might impose certain conditions requiring the submission of additional information for approval. Meanwhile, other conditions could govern the operational aspects of your development.

Appeals

Local Planning Authority (LPA) makes decisions on planning applications. If planning permission is refused, the applicant has the right to appeal the decision personally, or you can initiate an appeal on behalf of another individual. During this process, you must furnish the planning application number and the decision date.

Normally appeal can be made within 6 months from the local planning authority decision date. The Planning Inspectorate will check the appeal before considering it. An appeal takes a long time when an informal hearing or inquiry procedure is followed. There are different types of appeals, such as:

Planning Appeals

 Householders Appeals

 Listed Building Appeals

 Enforcement Appeals

Lawful Development Certificate Appeals

 Tree Preservation Order Appeals

  High Hedge Appeals

Enforcement

The local authority can take enforcement action if development is carried out without obtaining the necessary planning permission. The owner might need to undo the work or apply for retrospective planning permission.

Local authorities consider pursuing enforcement activity on a case-by-case basis, considering matters such as the nature of the unauthorised development and other avenues to resolve the matter. Enforcement action is considered after taking into regard the National Planning Policy Framework.

National Planning Policy

The UK government provides a national framework for planning policy through documents such as the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). This framework sets out overarching principles for sustainable development and emphasises the importance of economic, social, and environmental considerations.

The National Planning Policy Framework is a central reference point for planning decisions and is crucial in shaping how Land is used and developed across England.

Note: Planning regulations and processes can change over time, so it's advisable to refer to the latest guidance from the relevant local authority or government sources when considering a development project.

Sanjay Gautam
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