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The planning process can be difficult to understand. This is why we have created an easy to read flow chart highlighting all of the key steps to obtaining planning permission through to starting building work.

A Flowchart of The Planning Process

Step by Step Guide to Obtaining Planning Permission

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Site Visit and Client Requirements

The first step is understanding your requirements and providing ideas which can work with your property. Every project is different and has its own set of challenges. There are a number of different factors which need to be considered to ensure that your proposal will meet your local authorities planning legislation.

A construction worker measuring material

Measured Survey

The next stage is to conduct a measured survey. This is where your existing property is measured to the finest detail to obtain room sizes, wall thickness, door openings, columns/other structural elements, window sizes, drain positions, floor zone depths, room heights and much more. It is essential to make sure that the measured survey is as accurate as it can be to prevent your proposed design not working with the existing building.

A First Draft proposal of Floor Plans and Elevations

Existing and First Draft Proposed Floor Plans and Elevations are Produced

Using all the information from the measured survey the existing plans and elevations can be drawn. Once these plans are in place the proposed plans can be created from your initial requirements and considering planning legislation.

A refined proposal of the layout and positioning

Refining Proposed

Once the initial set of drawings have been produced this is your time to make as many changes as you would like to make sure you are satisfied with the proposal. Some of the items you should be checking are room layouts, room sizes, finishing materials (external only at this time), position of doors and windows and any other critical elements that you need.

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Planning Application

Once you are happy with the proposed plans, all of the other planning documentation e.g. Design and Access statement as well as the planning application can be filled out and then submitted to the local authority.

A person writing on paper with a pen

Validation and Planning Procedure

Once the planning application is submitted to the local authority, they first must validate the application (this can take up to two weeks depending on the local authority). Once the application has been validated it will then be given an application reference number and become available to view/track on the local authority online portal. The local authority can take up to eight weeks to generate a decision.

Step by Step Guide to Obtaining Building Control Approval

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Building Control Approval Options

Once you have obtained planning permission you will need to comply with building control in some manner. You can ask your builder to take care of the process and who will most likely submit a building notice. You can submit a full plans application to the local authority, or you can find a qualified approved inspector who can sign building work off. For this step by step guide we will submit a full plans application.

A construction worker measuring material

Construction Details

A full plans application requires us to upgrade planning drawings to show construction details and specification. This will essentially show critical elements of the building highlighting materials to be used, u-value (heat loss calculations), structural calculations and much more. These details will show the building control officer how the project is to comply with the building regulations to ensure it is safe.

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Full plans Application Submission

Once the construction details and specification have been created it is submitted with an application form and correct fee to the local authority for approval. The approval process commonly takes up to four weeks but could be made longer if necessary.

A business man putting his thumbs up

Approval or Rejection

The building control officer will either approve the full plans application, request for more information or amended elements which do not comply or completely reject the application if the design does not meet building control standards. In most cases full plan applications are approved which gives you the peace of mind that the builder can follow the details created, knowing that it will comply with building control regulations giving you the all and important completion certificate at the end of the build.


How much does planning application cost?

The fee for a planning application will vary depending on the type of application and size of the development. The most common Householder Planning Application will cost £206 where a Lawful Development Certificate costs £103. There are ways in reducing these fees depending on your circumstances. These prices are set by the government and should not vary between local authorities.

Which planning application do I need?

This is a difficult question to answer without knowing what the proposal is. As a general rule eight meter rear extensions on a detached house and six meter rear extensions on a terrace/semi-detached house is classed as permitted development. Three meter double story extensions and loft conversions are also classed as permitted development. Anything outside these limits or if your property falls within a conservation area, has an article four direction or is listed then a full planning application is required.

How long does a planning application last for?

Most commonly full planning applications are valid for three years. A Lawful Development Certificate remains valid indefinitely if the development described is carried out as per the granted application. 

How long does it take to acquire permission?

Once you have submitted your planning application to the local authority, they will first need to validate your application. This can be done as quick as the same day or up to two weeks after you submit your application. This time will vary depending on the local authority, how busy they are, if you have been through pre-application advice process and if your application is fully completed. Once the application is validated it can take up to eight weeks to receive a decision. The whole process commonly takes between eight – twelve weeks.

What is Pre-Application Advice and do I need it?

Pre-application advice is a service that most local authorities provide to evaluate your projects proposal against the current planning legislation as well as speeding up the planning application process. This service does normally cost and will vary between local authorities. The turnaround time also varies. This is a brilliant service if your proposal is complex or if you want to increase your chances of a successful application. After the council checks your proposal, they may suggest changes or let you know if there are any issues with your proposal. Please note that pre-application advice does not mean that your proposal will be granted.

Who can submit planning applications?

Anyone can submit a planning application.

What happens if the planning application fails?

If your first planning application fails there is no need to worry you have a few options. Firstly, you can amend your proposal to accommodate the reason for refusal and re-submit the application. If you submit within one year after your refusal and your proposal is an amendment of the existing one, at no additional cost. The second option is to go through the appeal process. You can only appeal if you have a valid reason to do so. This process can be lengthy and may not change the original planning decision. Lastly if your proposal is unobtainable it may be worth looking at an alternative extension or adaption which you would be happy with and try again with a new proposal.

I now have planning permission can I start building?

Once you have obtained planning permission you can now start looking for a builder to build your project, however you will still need to comply with building control. This can be accomplished in a couple of different ways. One way is to apply for a full plans submission which will upgrade your planning drawings to show all the required information to get full plans building control approval. Alternately you can submit a Building Notice which allows you to get on and start building with the building control officer checking work as you go. There are many options when you get to this stage but the most important thing to remember is that planning permission and building control approval are two different processes.

If you have any questions, queries or need more information give us a call on 0208 051 0789.

Go to Planning Portal for interactive guides and more information.

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