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Planning permission - Architects Drawing

Property Guide: Planning Permission Q&A

Read on for our comprehensive Q&A about planning permission in the UK!

How can I determine if a parcel of land is suitable for obtaining planning permission?

Question: I need help locating a plot that meets the criteria for planning approval but does not currently have it. This will help me save money, which is an important factor for me. What characteristics should I look for while evaluating a site?

Finding developable property at a price that is significantly lower than the “with planning” value can be very challenging. When a parcel of land has real potential, it is almost never sold for less than what the market would bear if the price reflected that potential. On the contrary, you should wonder what could possibly be wrong with a piece of land if it looks to be a legitimate building plot but is being offered at a low price.

Planning permission - Architects Drawing

At auctions and, to a lesser extent, through real estate brokers, you may purchase odd plots of land, some of which appear to have great promise. On the other hand, if it’s inexpensive, it’s probably because there are obstacles to building on it or high costs associated with developing it. There could be problems with the ground, with planning, with restrictive covenants, or with rights of way.

How can we get the required preliminary planning approval without overspending?

Question: We want to build our own house, and we are currently mulling over several designs in preparation for moving forward. How would you recommend we move from outline planning to full planning consent for our site?

You should, first of all, do everything you can to eliminate some of the alternatives from your list of designs. Making this choice should be based on a balance between personal choice and taste and the anticipated construction costs. Next, make contact with the relevant council and inquire about any pre-application advice they can offer. This will help you speed up the process and reduce the likelihood of making costly mistakes.

You can also show them your preferred designs and see if they have any particular preferences or dislikes themselves. If they have a particular objection to one of the designs, it could be useful in helping you make that final decision on which design to go with.

You can still submit an application for reserved matters based on your chosen alternative, even if pre-application counsel is unavailable or too expensive, which it can be. Here is where you may specify things like the building’s exact dimensions (height, breadth, and depth), as well as its exterior materials and finish.

Can I get the planning department to make a decision on my application more quickly?

Question: Nine months after submitting an application to the local government, we still have no idea if our plan will be approved. We have agreed to three extensions requested by the council. We have emailed various personnel in the department and have received nothing except excuses or nothing at all. Sometimes it feels like they have forgotten about us. Do we keep going and wait, or can we do anything to hurry things up?

The unreasonable length of time it can sometimes take the council to make decisions is a source of constant annoyance for many, so you are not alone. The fact that this is actually frequently the case might not be much consolation, but unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done about it.

Occasionally, contacting a higher-ranking official in the council can be beneficial. If that doesn’t work, going to your local council member can help get things moving along, however, it all depends on whether or not they’re prepared to take up your cause. You have the right to appeal a non-decision, which would take the application process away from the local government. However, doing so will submit your application to the planning appeals procedure, which can take up to six months. All I can say is to keep pressing as hard as you can.

Will it be possible to extend a self-build at a later date?

Question: I’m moving towards starting a new self-build construction project shortly and hope to extend and add on to the house at some point. I think it’s a good idea to prepare the way for this and lay the footings for this addition simultaneously with the main house’s foundation. A 3-meter extension to the present plan was just authorised (with further permitted development rights taken off). Is it okay to double the square footage of my expansion to 8 metres without getting permission from the council?

If you wish to make changes to the authorised plans, it is advisable to ask for authorisation to do so. If you lay the foundations for a greater enlargement in the future, the local government may decide that you have violated the approved plan. However, they may not necessarily be interested in the foundations themselves unless something in particular triggers it. Just like with any sort of planning, the specifics of the law are open to discretion.

If additional authorised development rights have been removed as a planning condition, however, you will need to file an application for new planning permission before you may build a larger expansion. Spending extra money on additional foundations is a huge risk unless you are positive that this will be approved.

How difficult is it to gain self-build authorisation for a garden?

Question: Is it possible to construct a dormer bungalow in my parents’ garden? The two bungalows that flank his house don’t have any windows that overlook the land where I plan to develop. I was curious as to whether or not I could build in this area and what customary rules would apply.

The answer is that planning is highly context dependent. Much like a driveway, If other homes in the area are built closer together and there is a variety of dwelling types, including modest chalets, your planning suggestion makes sense. As a plus, if there aren’t any windows overlooking anything to worry about, then that will certainly help your case. You have a reasonable chance of approval since modern planning regulations favour higher densities and optimising land use.

What the council will decide, however, is completely unpredictable, as each council is different and has various opinions on the matter. Create some rough blueprints and consult the local council for input before submitting an official application. You might also consult a local architect who specialises in similar plots to get their view on the situation.

Will the council allow our extension under permitted development rights?

Question: I have in mind  buying a Victorian semi-detached home. It’s got an addition on the back, although it’s only about 4.5 metres long and takes up about half the width of the original house. Despite the fact that this structure was erected over 20 years ago, it appears that someone has collected similar bricks. Our goal is to expand the current addition until it matches the breadth of the original structure. Under permitted development, could we do this?

This property has been extended over half of the rear; thus any infilling would be treated as both a rear and side expansion. The side extension would be off the existing addition.

Only the original structure can have an addition added to it, per permitted development regulations. Accordingly, planning consent to alter the property will be required. Whether or not this will likely be disputed will, in large part, depend on how the construction will affect your neighbour’s property. You should be fine as long as you don’t interfere with their view, light, or privacy.

How close can my extension get to my neighbour’s boundary?

Question: The garage on our property is under-utilised, so we’re thinking about turning it into a living area and building up.

Similarly, we’re hoping to make the most of our house’s width. How near may we get to the property line when constructing on the ground level and the first floor? Currently, the garage is 30 cm from the property line. Would the first floor be required to step back if we converted the property and turned the garage into living space?

For as long as you notify your neighbour under the Party Wall Act, there is no reason you can’t construct right up to your property boundary line. However, planners would discourage expansion up to or close to the plot’s borders if doing so would be out of character with the surrounding neighbourhood or have negative effects on nearby residents. This may occur due to your property causing overshadowing or being close to other structures and causing them to lose light.

Of course, you can keep your garage in its current location if you decide to convert it, and the decision to add a ground floor will be evaluated independently. A professional designer can help you decide which approach is best.

Can I get permission to construct on green belt land?

Question: A number of years ago, my dad built a small new build after replacing an old cottage he no longer wished to live in. It was explained to him at the time that all permitted development rights had been exhausted on the property. Since that time, however, regulations have shifted somewhat, and two single-family homes with four bedrooms each can now be built on the vacant property next door. The time has come for me to have my own family, and to do so, my dad has offered me half of their rather sizeable garden. Would it be conceivable, given the recent changes to the neighbourhood, to have the previous planning regulations removed and therefore be granted permission?

Permitted development rights to extend or build outbuildings in the new house’s garden are irrelevant to whether or not a new home might be approved in the garden. Whether the local council’s planning strategies have shifted is the essential question to consider.

The development of the plot adjacent to yours provides a strong indication that they have. You may do a dry run by getting pre-application advice to determine if a new property would be authorised. If the answer is yes, then you may continue on to the next step of formally applying for planning permission and get to work on choosing a design.


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