Planning permission, property developers guide to planning applications

Planning Permission – Property Developers Guide to Planning Applications

If you are an experienced investor or property developer then you’ll be all too familiar with the processes involved in getting planning permission and the rules and regulations set-out in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Obtaining planning permission or planning consent as it is sometimes called is required if you want to build on land, make substantial changes to a properties structure, appearance or the use to which that property it is put.

The careful control of such development activities allows the government and local planning authorities (LPAs) to make sure that any new property developments, building extensions, alterations, change of use and such-like are carefully controlled and in keeping with their surroundings and in-line with current planning laws – in other words, to make sure that no-one flouts the rules to build whatever they feel like.

Investment Property Partners property developers guide to planning applications and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 covers a number of important issues that you may wish to consider if you are reviewing property development opportunities that require formal planning permission.

Planning Permission Considerations

Most of the time planning applications concern existing settlement areas and buildings that are already constructed, as people, property investors and developers look to add more space to their homes and add value to their property.

Because of this, the granting of planning permission will often come down to a number of factors that relate directly to the local area and surroundings of the property in question, as the local planning authority (LPA) and their planning inspectors are able to grant permission only if they feel proposals fit in with the general character of the area.

Planning inspectors will also consider whether the proposals or building designs have a detrimental impact on the permitted use of the area, neighbours and residents… they will also look at privacy issues.

Other less obvious considerations that will impact on whether or not planning permission is granted are whether the property lets sufficient light in; whether the property has sufficient parking without impacting on others and whether or not the quality of any outdoor space and amenities are affected.

Planning Permission, Conservation Areas & National Parks

If you are applying for planning permission in a conservation area or national park then you can expect even tighter controls and regulations on what you can and cannot do.

This is because these areas are normally steeped in history and heritage and have a special character about them that makes them highly desirable and worthy of extra protection.

Generally, new property developments, modifications and alterations to existing properties in such areas are hard to come by.

Normally, the local planning authority will be very particular when it comes to proposals to convert or alter anything on an existing property located in a conservation area.

Many people who own property in a conservation area have, for instance struggled to get planning permission to change run-of-the-mill building elements such as windows and doors.

In simple terms, planning permission can sometimes be difficult to obtain, especially if you don’t understand all the implications and reasons behind the rules and regulations laid down by the government.

When it comes to conservation areas though, getting planning permission can be even more difficult, as decisions can be very subjective and the requirements that need to be met can be very strict.

How to Make a Planning Application

Moving on, now that you understand the basics of why there is such a thing as planning permission, it is equally as important that you understand how best to get planning permission if you need it, and what hurdles you will have to clear to achieve the consents that you need.

If for whatever reason you need planning permission, the first stage will be for you to make a formal application to the local planning authority.

At a very basic level, the local planning authority will require you to fill out an application form detailing your proposals; it will also require you to submit plans of your existing land or property together with details of your proposed development works, a statement of ownership, a location plan and the appropriate planning fee.

If you are unsure how best to go about submitting your planning application, rather than guessing and potentially wasting everyone’s time and money, you should research the process thoroughly, and if need be, contact the local planning authority for advice on how best to approach the submission of your application.

Alternatively, if your development project is complex or potentially contentious there are many firms of specialist planning consultants who provide expert advice concerning the submission process and they will be able to help steer you through the various planning stages.

Such specialist planning companies can provide experienced individuals who will research previous applications, do the leg work when it comes to application discussions with the planning authority and more importantly, will also help to put the application together in a concise and accurate manner.

This can be very beneficial when your property development proposals are complex, extensive or involve potentially contentious issues.

Conservation areas follow a similar path with regards planning permission, but again, the process is a little stricter and there is usually an additional application form that will need to be completed.

A design and access statement will also be required.

For conservation areas, because preservation of the character of the local area is top of the agenda for the planning authority, you may find that you have to provide reports from the council that clearly state that your proposal does not affect traffic or residents already in the area.

How do the Local Planning Authorities make their Decision?

Firstly, the local planning authority, usually via the council’s planning department will look to assess what neighbours and local residents think and feel about the proposals.

The council will allow around three weeks for local people to respond or air their concerns about the prospective development.

After these views have been taken on board, a planning officer will then visit the development site to review the local area, the submitted plans, the site layout and the original building for themselves – this will allow them to see and feel the development and get a better idea of what is included in the application.

Through delegated powers, a planning permission may be granted by the local planning officer if the proposals are straight forward and there are no serious or contentious issues.

However, if any third party raises issues or concerns about the plans for development, the planning application will normally need to be passed onto the council’s planning committee, usually made up of local councillors, who will ultimately look at the case in greater detail.

You should be aware that many planning applications end up in the committee’s hands so there is nothing to feel downbeat about if this is where your application ends up.

How long will it take to get Planning Permission?

A decision as to whether or not you have been granted planning permission will normally be given within eight weeks of your submission, providing nothing goes very wrong, or the council do not require any additional information.

As a general rule of thumb, if a decision has not been reached within the eight week time-frame, an appeal of non-determination can be set in motion.

If your planning application is refused you should initially try to come to an agreement with the local planning authority (LPA) by adjusting your development plans.

If this fails then there is a formal appeals procedure to the Secretary of State but you should be aware that appeals can take several months to be decided.

Property Investment Solutions

As a leading independent property and land investment specialists Investment Property Partners offer expert advice and support to clients across our specialist areas of expertise helping them to achieve their investment objectives.

If you are a property developer or investor searching for property development opportunities, land with planning permission, or development finance please contact us today to discuss how Investment Property Partners can help you.

Further reading…

More information about planning permission applications in England and Wales… here →

More information about planning permission from the UK Governments Planning Portal… here →