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How to Obtain Planning Permission

In the UK, planning permission is required in a number of different circumstances in order to be able to build on or change the use of land. How to obtain planning permission differs from place to place, but since 1st July 1948, any new development as defined by any building, engineering or mining operation has required planning permission.

With recent changes to the law when it comes to what you can build where, this blog post will look at how to obtain planning permission, what to do once it’s been granted and how to deal with processing your application.

When do you Need to Obtain Planning Permission?

Some recent changes in UK law have meant that many people’s small development, conversion or extension will not need planning permission. The government have relaxed many of the country’s planning permission laws in order to promote growth, but in many cases you will still need to know how to obtain planning permission and what to do to if you are looking to make larger changes to your property. If you would like to build a new property or make major changes to an existing structure, you may need to seek planning advice.

You are able to process your planning permission application online – initially you will be asked to enter:

  • The name of the development (first line of address is recommended)
  • Location of the development
  • The type of application you require (More information on choosing your application)

When this has been completed and you have selected the type of planning application you need, there are a number of stages and forms to fill in so the local authorities have the appropriate information they need to come to a conclusion about your application.

The planning application form is made up of a series of questions that must be answered in full to be processed. These are attached to a number of supporting documents such as plans, drawings, maps and information about the local area. The more knowledge you can prove you have about your potential property and the local area, the more likely you will be able to continue with your development. Your local authority can provide advice on which documents are likely to be most useful, and frequently asked questions on supporting documents can be found here.              

How to Obtain Planning Permission - What Happens Next?

After your application is submitted online, planners at your local authority will review it and a decision will be made. Planners will look at a number of elements, but will mainly focus on the following things.

  • Your development suits the general character of the area
  • It does not cause privacy problems for others
  • Will the development cause an undue burden on the local area?
  • Does it provide suitable amenities for the residents?
  • Does it cause issues with neighbours’ Right to Light?

There are certain restrictions on buildings in certain areas that planners have to abide by. Conservation areas impose the most common of these restrictions, but listed buildings and green belt regions also have their own limits. Seek planning advice if you are concerned about restrictions on your intended property development.

After due consideration you will be given a verdict on your planning permission application. Most planning applications are decided within 8 weeks, and unless they are unusually large or complex your local authority should be able to give you an idea of the likely timeframe.

The Build

Planning permission expires after a certain period, so it’s wise to have plans in place to get going once your application has been accepted. You have three years to start your development – if you start outside of this period you may need to seek advice to extend or reapply.

When consent is granted, you are unlikely to get a visit to check the building’s compliance to the plans, but it must be borne in mind that complaints will alert the authority to breaches of planning law. As a courtesy, ensure you keep neighbours alerted to any disruption caused by your construction project in the local area.


There are many sources of advice on how to obtain planning permission in the UK – but each individual area is different and it’s often wise to seek independent planning advice. To find out if your property does need planning permission, contact your local authority.

If you have any further questions on how to obtain planning permission, Kingsley Smith Solicitors are highly trained and experienced planning solicitors, and will able to guide you through the process by taking the stress and hassle out of the situation. Contact us for more information and to speak to one of our team.

How to Obtain Planning Permission