Architecture
20/Nov/2021
6 minutes

The Planning Application Process: Explained

We get it … the planning application can be complicated! How do you know what to apply for? What drawings do you need? How long will the entire process take?

If any of these questions have been going through your mind, take a look at our comprehensive guide designed for our clients, which breaks down the planning process and explains key principles to help you gain a better understanding.

1. Beginning the process | Submitting your planning application

Once you have decided on a scheme, a planning application needs to be submitted via the planning portal (planningportal.co.uk) either by yourself or an agent (i.e) your architectural designer/planning consultant (etc.)

The type of application you need to make will depend on what kind of works you are planning to undertake on the property (i.e) is it for an extension or are you planning a loft conversion that could be permissible under permitted development?

If you are using an architectural designer or planning consultant for example at this point, they will be able to advise you on the appropriate application that will need to be made. If you are filling out the forms by yourself, be careful to fill out all the relevant information correctly and upload the documents that are needed.

Along with architectural drawings, you may be asked to upload supplementary documentation depending on what the Council is requesting and different features of your property (e.g.) is it listed or does it fall within a conservation area.You may also be asked to supply a fire safety report or additional information on protected trees, which may be within the boundary of your property.

(To mention, we will begin to unpack the different types of applications and when they may be needed in our next series of blog posts)

2. Validating your application

Once the application has been submitted via the planning portal, your local authority will be in touch to confirm either:

– The application has been correctly submitted and has been registered. They will also confirm a target decision date in writing to either yourself or your architectural designer. This is when the eight-week processing time begins where the Council will decide if your application will be approved or not.

– The application has missing/needs further information. The council will contact you to supply anything that may be missing or require clarification. Once this is sent across and is confirmed, the application will be processed.

3. The consultation period | Overview

The consultation period begins here and will go on for 21 days.

The application and supporting information including drawings and documentation is visible to the public. The Council will also put up laminated notices around the area near your site to inform the public of the proposed works.

At this point, there is also the chance for people to object, support or comment on your proposal.

It is important to note that the Council will only consider “material considerations” which means appropriate reasons for an objection.

There are several bases where an objection will be ignored these include (but are not limited to):

  • Personal issues with the applicant’s background/who the applicant is
  • Loss of property value
  • Opposition to business competition
  • Previously made objections regarding another site or application.

4. The consultation period | Potential affected parties

The council will also write directly to any other parties that the development may affect. This could include your neighbours if you are adding an addition on your home or governmental authorities. They will be invited to give their opinion on the proposal if they may be affected by it.

5. The consultation period | Site Visit

As seen when filling out the planning application form on the portal, the Council may contact the agent or yourselves if a site visit is needed. This is usually for larger-scale projects and has recently been replaced by the request for additional images/videos of the property.

6. The decision | How it works

If your planning application is quite straightforward and is for a smaller scheme, a planning officer will make a decision. If your scheme is large, it will be down to the Council’s planning committee.

A successful planning application? – Firstly, Congratulations!

If your planning application is granted, the planning department will write to either yourself or your agent to inform you of such and their reasons for approval.

There may however be two situations: Granted With Conditions or Granted Without Conditions.

If it is granted without conditions, your next step will be to seek approval from building control before heading onto the construction stage.

If your project is granted with conditions, this means that the Council is generally happy with the application but wants you to supply some further details. You can appeal against or apply to amend/discharge the conditions that have been put in place. The council also does this to ensure that you only get permission for what you have applied for and do not switch to another use for the building without their approval. The Council may also ask for you to apply to discharge conditions before any construction can go ahead.

If your planning application was refused – don’t panic just yet!

The planning officer will write to you or your agent to explain reasons why the application was refused, for example, if the proposal is too over dominant or causes a risk of overlooking with neighbours.

In their response, the officer usually suggests ways in which the application could be amended in order to gain approval. If you and/or your agent feel that the changes are acceptable and perhaps the application did have a reason for rejection, it is worth amending the drawings to start the process again and gain approval.

There may however be situations where you and/or your agent feel that the comments given by the planning officer are unjust and there are grounds to appeal the decision. However, this is not a decision to be taken without careful consideration as it does get complicated and you will need a strong case with evidence that argues your case. This may show that for example, the Council is contradicting one of its policies or that it is not in line with other national policies (i.e) in the National Planning Policy framework or the Local Plan.

To note, a planning officer should give you a decision within the stated time period or you may have grounds to appeal if the decision is overly delayed.

7. How can we help?

At Christopher David Designs, we have a team of creative and resourceful architectural designers who have worked on a broad range of projects and dealt with numerous boroughs in London, Surrey and beyond.

We have experience working on different types of buildings, from large-scale developments to Grade II listed and we are familiar with the planning system including their conservation policies and nuances.

We will be there to guide you through the entire process and answer any questions you may have along the way.

Please feel free to get in touch below!

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