What Do I Need for Planning Permission?

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Find out what you need for planning permission

What Do I Need for Planning Permission?

There are two types of documents you need for planning permission. The first are national documents which apply to everyone irrespective of which country you live in the UK. The second are local which vary according to your relevant LPA (Local Planning Authority).

If your documentation is incomplete, then you will face delays in having your planning permission approved. For this reason, it is always a good idea to contact your LPA before making an application and checking that you have all the necessary paperwork.

Before we explain what paperwork you need for your planning application, let’s consider when you should apply for planning consent.

Image showing an extension under construction on a house in the UK
Planning permission is usually required if you are making structural alterations to a property, such as building an extension. Photo by Brett Jordan.

Do I Need Planning Permission?

You must apply for planning permission if you are building something from scratch or if you are changing the purpose of a building.

For example, turning a residential property into a commercial one requires planning consent. Major changes to the integral structure of a building also usually require permission in the UK, such as building on an annex or extension to your house (depending on the size).

Loft conversions, building a shed, knocking down internal walls to make a larger room or adding a garage are some of the most common changes to a property which do not usually need planning permission although they are subject to size limitations.

If you are in doubt about whether planning permission is necessary, consult an expert or the Local Planning Authority before making any changes to your property.

Image showing building work on a house
If in any doubt, check with your local planning authority before starting any work, or it could prove costly. Photo by Brett Jordan.

National Documents For UK Planning Permission

Planning permission applications can be made online through the UK’s Planning Portal. From there, it is sent automatically to the relevant local authority. Alternatively, you could download copies of the application form.

The mandatory documents for the whole of the UK that the Local Planning Authority need to process your planning application are:

  • 5 copies of the standard application form
  • A location plan (showing the site area and surrounding context)
  • A site or block plan (showing the site in detail including proposed and existing elevations)
  • A signed ownership certificate A, B, C or D
  • Evidence that the owner (and part-owners), leaseholders (with 7 or more years left on the lease) and agricultural tenants have been informed of your decision to apply for planning permission
  • A design and access statement (which explains how the building will affect the area)
  • Application fee (a Planning Portal fee calculator can help you work out how much it will cost)
Photo of ongoing domestic construction work with planning permission.
Your first move should be to ask your local authority about any possible planning consent requirements before you begin work, no matter how small the job. Photo by Brett Jordan.

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Local Documents For UK Planning Permission

What you require to satisfy local requirements for planning permission depends on where you live in the UK. It also depends on what type of property it is, the nature of the changes and so on.

For local rules that may be relevant to your planning permission application, the best thing to do is contact your local planning authority. You can visit this UK government website for local councils and simply type in your postcode to find out who your local authority is.

If you are in any doubt whether permission is required, always consult your Local Planning Authority. Never carry out renovation, alteration or extension work without checking if permission is required. This can result in heavy fines and even removal of work you have carried out.

Image showing a small extension on a house
There are things you can do on a practical level to avoid planning permission refusal, such as preparing your planning application properly. Photo by Brett Jordan.

How To Avoid Planning Permission Refusal

In England, approximately 25% of planning permission applications are denied. Of this number, 4 out of 10 are later approved on appeal. To improve the likelihood of your planning permission being approved, there are a number of things you can do.

Use experts to help you with your planning permission application

You do not have to apply for planning permission alone. You could appoint an agent such as a solicitor to do it on your behalf. A town planner can also help you navigate all the paperwork necessary for your planning permission.

Always make sure that they are a member of the RTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute). Use the RTPI website to find one in your local area. If money is tight, the voluntary Planning Aid network will carry out the work free of charge.

Consult Your Local Planning Authority (LPA)

It is possible to meet a representative from the nearest local planning authority before officially applying for planning permission. You may be charged a fee for this service. They will verify all your documentation and inform you if anything is missing or invalid.

Research the building before applying for planning permission

The chances of having your planning permission denied are higher for certain types of building and locations. If your property is a listed building or in Designated or Conservation Area, then the regulations about how the building can be changed or adapted are much more stringent. Find out how to apply for listed buildings consent.

Image showing building work with planning permission
Contrary to popular belief, objections to planning permission are normally only considered if there is a material loss to the party making an objection, such as loss of a view or daylight. Photo by Brett Jordan.

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Applying For Planning Permission

Once you have submitted your application for planning permission, you will receive an email of confirmation which will contain 2 unique reference numbers: a payment reference number and a Planning Portal reference number. The latter should always be quoted in any correspondence with your LPA.

You will later receive another email from the relevant Local Planning Authority once your application has been redirected to them. The LPA’s first job is to make sure that you have sent all the necessary paperwork and that it is all in order. If your Local Planning Authority have any queries, they will contact you directly.

Related: How long does planning permission take?

Image showing a garden shed with no planning permission
In most cases, for structures like small garden sheds, no planning permission is needed, however you should check with your local authority. Photo by Danielle Rice.

Planning Permission Objections

Before giving their consent the Local Planning Authority will undertake a public consultation process. This usually takes 3-8 weeks. They will post a sign outside the property to inform neighbours and other interested parties of your application.

In this period, third parties will have the opportunity to express their disagreement with the proposed change to the building by contacting the Local Planning Authority with their objections to your planning application.

One misconception about the Local Planning Authority is that it bows to public pressure when proposed building plans are unpopular. This is not the case. Planning objections are only taken into account if they affect ‘material considerations’.

For example, they have an impact on someone’s right to privacy or a tall building deprives its neighbour of natural sunlight.

Other planning factors that a local planning authority consider

  • The size, layout and external appearance of the building
  • How it fits in with existing infrastructure such as roads and the water supply
  • Whether landscaping will be necessary
  • The proposed use of the new development (residential, commercial, etc.)
  • How it will affect the local area (both other residents and the natural environment)

The local planning authority will notify you of their decision within 8 weeks although larger or more complex developments may take a few weeks longer. If your permission is turned down, you reserve the right to appeal.

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