Likelihood of Obtaining Planning Permission

Planning permission is a game like any other, with its own set of rules which you have to play by.

The nice thing about rules, though, is that they’re there to bend or be broken, and there’s a fair bit of playing the system and healthy smattering of local politics thrown in which can make this an unpredictable game to play.

If you’ve put in a planning application, what are your chances of seeing your designs get that all important stamp of approval from the local planning department? And is there anything you can do to increase the likelihood that your plans will get the green light first time around?

The Planning Game: Knowing the Rules

It’s worth remembering that the planning department is working to a very tight schedule which has been set out for them by the government, and they ought to take no longer than eight weeks to reach a decision from the time you submit your application. If you’ve found a plot of land which already comes with Outline Planning Permission then you’re already well on your way and can apply for the Detailed Planning Permission which will, with any luck, see you obtain Full Planning Permission within a couple of months. Because of the pressure they’re under, however, local planning departments are unlikely to want to enter into lengthy negotiations and arguments with you if they take against some aspect of your proposals – they’re more likely to give you a flat ‘no’ than send you away to take another look and slow proceedings down.

The best thing you can do when you’re starting out on your self-build project is to seek professional advice from a designer who understands the ins and outs of planning law and knows the best way of ensuring your plans are approved. Finding someone who is familiar with the local area and has experience of the local planning department is the best way to boost the likelihood of getting permission, and while it might seem like a costly way to begin your project, it could save both time and money in the long-run. You can also seek advice from the planning department themselves, usually for a small fee. Again, a little money up-front can be a wise investment if it means fewer delays in getting planning permission and starting work.

Another way to boost your chances of getting approval is by emphasising that you want your project to be energy efficient and environmentally friendly. With the government applying pressure to local authorities in order to cut the country’s carbon footprint, having some eco-friendly plans and stressing your green credentials can significantly improve your chances.

What Are the Odds?

These days the odds are decidedly in the home-builder’s favour. With a shortage of housing stock and a rapidly expanding population, the government is keener than ever to see more homes being built and more brownfield or infill sites being put to good use. This will clearly work in your favour.

Several years ago the National Planning Policy Framework (NPFF) was liberalised to encourage more building, but by June 2014 it seemed to have made little impact on the statistics around successful applications for self-build projects. Roughly one in five applications submitted to local authorities fail at their first application, but the rates of people appealing against such decisions jumped from 35% before the NPPF was relaxed to 42% afterwards, while the proportion of appeals allowed after a public inquiry rose from 48% to 60%. All this means that if you find yourself the unlucky one in five, you stand a better chance at having your application passed second time around if you amend your designs and resubmit within the specified time period.

You can appeal against a rejection in one of three ways – either in writing to the local planning authorities, through an informal hearing or by submitting your plans to a public inquiry. While there aren’t usually any fees to pay for an appeal, this is an ideal time to get some professional advice if you haven’t already done so, and seeking some more if you already have.


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