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What is the planning application process?

Unfortunately, applying for planning permission isn’t quite as simple as just filling in a form. There are many application types, each is suited to certain projects and circumstances. The different types have different requirements and are assessed differently. It is important to submit the planning application type that will give you the best chance of success. It depends on which type of application, which local authority you are submitting to, and what constraints are present at the site address. However, there are certain things that will always be required, as detailed below.

Planning permission process

The process of applying for planning permission typically involves filling out a form, providing detailed plans and drawings of the proposed development, paying the necessary fees, and submitting any supporting documents or reports required by the local authority. It is important to note that obtaining permission is not guaranteed and may require additional steps or modifications to the proposed development. Once submitted, the applicant will receive a receipt as proof of submission.

What drawings are required?

Every planning application will require some architect drawings in order for your local planning authority to assess the design, scale and impact of your proposed development. Even if you are considering a change of use with no structural changes you will still need to submit architect drawings that demonstrate the changes of use. This is the only way to demonstrate to the local planning authority what you are proposing to change, if anything at all in regards to the architectural design. It depends on which application type you are planning to submit but most will require the following as a minimum; a site plan, floor plans, elevations, sections of the dwelling, and details of any historic or listed building consent if applicable to the proposed development in England, in accordance with the national planning policy framework.

Existing & Proposed Elevations – 2D drawings showing each side of the property externally in accordance with the architectural plans.

Existing and Proposed Elevations

Existing & Proposed Floor Plans – 2D drawings showing the layout of rooms

Proposed Floor Plans

Existing & Proposed Block Plans – Map showing boundaries for the site

Proposed Block Plan

Site Location Plan – A larger map showing where the property is located

Site Location Plan

What documents are needed?

Every application whether you are constructing something new, extending, making alterations or changing the use will require at least one type of statement and possibly additional supporting evidence in order to limit the risk of an unnecessary refusal. It depends on which type you plan to submit as to which statements and supporting documents will be required. However, below is an overview of what is typically the minimum requirements are for a normal planning application.

Planning Statement or Design and Access Statement

You will require one of these statements as a minimum with any application. They are normally 4 to 50 pages long justifying why the proposed development plan meets the required policies and why it should be approved. However, in addition, householders may also require additional statements such as a heritage impact statement, water management statement, drainage statement, waste management statement and more to satisfy the majority of applications. Submitting an application without the required statement(s) would risk being refused unnecessarily. While in theory, anyone could do this, it usually requires an experienced RTPI town planner who understands the complex and ever-changing policies and legislation.

Supporting Evidence

A bit like going to court, it is important to seek professional advice and submit the strongest possible case. Sometimes it is beneficial or even a necessity to submit additional documents as evidence to support your application and provide further details. For example, if you need to prove existing use over a certain time period. There is no definitive list of what evidence will be required but it can include, previous planning history, ownership details, rental contracts, utility bills, and photos to name just a few examples. Without sufficient evidence to support your case and prove the required facts, your application could be unnecessarily refused.

Specialist Reports

There are over 30 specialist reports that the council may request, in addition to the normal architect drawings and statements before they can assess and determine an application. These reports include flood risk assessments, wildlife surveys, ecological reports, bat surveys, transport reports, parking surveys, noise assessments, odour assessments, environmental impact assessments, and more. Large-scale developments such as new build houses and major planning applications are much more likely to require one or more specialist reports as they have a greater impact on the surrounding area. However, they can be required for any minor developments such as extensions, loft conversions, garage conversions, change of use, etc. They require highly skilled experts with unique skills and qualifications, so they can be very expensive if required. The reports may also need to be approved by the environment agency.

If you submit without the required documents and evidence, it may be deemed incomplete and could result in delays or even a refusal. This can be frustrating and time-consuming, as you will need to go back and gather the necessary information before resubmitting. Ensuring that all required documents and evidence are included in your submission is crucial for the successful validation of your application.

To ensure a smooth and successful process, it is important to carefully review the requirements set out by the local council or governing body. They may specify certain documents that are essential for assessing your application, such as previous planning history, ownership details, rental contracts, utility bills, and photographs. These pieces of evidence can help support your case and provide crucial details negating the need for a site visit from the planning officer.

Ownership certificate or agricultural land declaration

When submitting an application, one of two important certificates is required: the Ownership Certificate or the Agricultural Land Declaration. The Ownership Certificate confirms that you are the legal owner of the property where you want to make changes or additions. The Agricultural Land Declaration is required if your property is located in an agricultural zone, and it confirms that your proposed development will not interfere with any agricultural activities or land use. These certificates are crucial in ensuring that your application is processed smoothly and without any legal issues

Are there any fees associated with submitting a planning application?

Yes, there are fees associated with submitting a normal planning application, including an application fee. The amount of the fee, which is typically required to cover the cost of processing the application, will vary depending on the type and scale of the proposed development. It is important to check with your local authority for specific fee information and payment methods..

Planning application submission and receipt

There are many different application forms to choose from, each type is suited to specific projects and circumstances. They all have different requirements and are assessed against different local and national policies. Submitting the right form, such as full planning, for a demolition project to submit is essential. If you submit the project does not meet the criteria it would be destined for an unnecessary refusal. All applications are normally submitted via the governments planning portal website. Once your application is submitted they will email you with a link to pay the council processing fee.

Application Validation

After submission, one of the key stages of the planning application process is validation. This is where the local authority checks to ensure that all the necessary information and documents have been provided. It is important to include all required details and supporting evidence at this stage to avoid any delays or complications.

During the validation process, the planning officer will review your application and conduct an initial assessment of its feasibility. They will check if you have included the necessary plans, drawings, and other relevant documents. This can include supporting evidence such as contracts, utility bills, and photographs that can support your case and provide important details.

If you fail to submit the minimum required information, including any missing information about your application, the council may not validate or process your application, this is when many clients Contact Us for help. If they do validate it but the design does not meet all of the required policies or the supporting documents do not clearly justify why, based on the relevant policies the application should be approved, it would be at risk of unnecessary refusal.

Do I need to notify my neighbours when making a planning permission Application?

When making an application, you may be wondering if you need to notify your neighbours. The answer is that it depends on the type of application you are making. A lawful development certificate does not require a consultation period so your neighbours do not have any opportunity to comment or object. Most other types of planning applications do require a 21-day consultation period, to allow local government, as well as neighbours, to comment or object to your proposed development.

What if my neighbours object?

It is common for objections to be raised during the planning application process. However, objections that stem from personal reasons such as dislike towards you or the design are unlikely to hold any weight with the local authority. On the other hand, objections that are based on technical planning aspects such as negative impacts on the street scene, environment, noise levels, privacy, security, right to light, or other material considerations could potentially influence the outcome of your application. If objections are grounded in technical reasons related to local or national policies, it may be necessary to provide a formal response in the form of an objection letter. This response should effectively counter-argue their case and provide technical evidence to justify why their objection should be disregarded.

Revisions to planning applications prior to determination

Revisions to planning applications are often necessary prior to determination. The application may need to be revised based on feedback from local authorities, stakeholders or the community. This can involve changes to the proposed development, such as alterations to its size, location or design. It is important to note that revisions can delay the determination process, so it’s crucial for applicants or town planners to work closely with planning officers and make any necessary changes as quickly as possible. By doing so, it is often possible to save time and avoid a refusal.

What happens when the applicant disagrees with the local planning authority’s request to provide additional information?

When a local planning authority requests additional information from the applicant or appointed town planner during the normal planning application process, there may be instances where the applicant or town planner disagrees. In such cases, the applicant or town planner can request a review of the decision and provide further information to support their argument. The local planning authority will then review the information provided and make a decision accordingly. However, it is important for applicants to understand that providing all necessary information upfront can help prevent delays and ensure a smoother application process.

How long will it take to get a decision?

The timeframe for a planning decision depends on various factors, including the complexity of your application and the workload of the local planning authority. The statutory time frame for local authorities to determine applications is 8-13 weeks depending on the type of application. However, with backlogs in many councils across the UK, it is common for the process to take 4 to 6 months. The planning officer can request an extension of time and any requests for additional information or design revisions will add delays.

What happens if your application is refused?

If your planning application is refused, you have the option to appeal the decision. This involves submitting additional evidence and arguments to support your case. Appeals can be very complex and difficult so seeking advice from a town planner with experience in appealing decisions is recommended. Alternatively, it may be possible to amend and resubmit your application for reconsideration. Understanding the reasons for refusal can help address any issues in subsequent applications.

How likely is it that my planning application will be approved?

It is difficult to determine the likelihood of your planning application being approved without knowing more specific information about the details of your application and the local planning regulations and policies in your area. The approval of a planning application depends on various factors, such as compliance with zoning and land use regulations, environmental impact assessments, community feedback, and other relevant considerations. It is advisable to consult with a qualified RTPI town planner or contact your local planning department for more accurate information regarding your specific circumstances. They will be able to provide you with guidance and advice based on their knowledge of local regulations and past approvals in your area.

It is recommended that you establish the likelihood of success before you invest lots of time or money, in case your project is not feasible or has a low chance of success. To establish the feasibility you can submit a to your local council, you will need drawings and a detailed written proposal. It normally takes around 5-8 weeks to receive a response which is still not a legal determination and does not guarantee you will secure approval. Alternatively, one of our expert town planners can conduct a planning appraisal to give you the answers you need in a day rather than 8 weeks.

When can you start construction?

After receiving approval for your planning application, construction can commence as long as building regulations approval is not necessary. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that certain conditions may be imposed on the approval, which must be satisfied before construction can begin. If building regulations drawings are required, you can proceed with this phase once your application has been approved and you are certain that there will be no changes to the architectural design.

It is important to note that even if you believe your project falls under permitted development, undertaking any work without obtaining all necessary consent would be done at your own risk. Non-compliance with regulations could result in enforcement action and financial penalties. It is highly recommended to initiate the planning process well in advance, preferably 6-12 months prior to the desired start of construction, to minimize stress in case of any delays.

What is the benefit of engaging an architect and a town planner?

Engaging an architect and a town planner for your planning application brings several benefits. While architects excel in design, town planners are experts in planning policies and can ensure your design meets all necessary requirements. Their expertise increases the chances of obtaining planning permission and saves you time and effort navigating the process.

An architect plays a crucial role in the planning application process. Their expertise lies in design, ensuring that your proposed project meets aesthetic standards and functional requirements. By engaging an architect, you can benefit from their innovative ideas and creative solutions, resulting in a well-designed and visually appealing structure.

A town planner is well-versed in local regulations and planning policies. They have a deep understanding of the approval process and can guide you through it. A town planner can help you navigate complex planning regulations, ensuring that your application is compliant with all necessary requirements. With their expertise, they can increase

Do you need help or advice on submitting a planning application?

Looking for guidance on submitting a planning application? Our team of architects and town planners can assist you throughout the entire process. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your project and receive a detailed feasibility report with a quote. Utilize our free online cost calculator for an instant estimate.

To see some examples of our recent applications visit our Portfolio and click on any of the projects to see all of the required drawings and planning statements for each application.

To get a free instant estimate for your project, you can use our Cost Calculator but please bear in mind this does not mean your project is feasible and if anything above the minimum is required this will be at additional cost.

If you would like to find out what exactly your project would require and whether it is feasible, please Contact Us for a free no-obligation consultation.

Milana Semco

AuthorMilana SemcoMARKETING ASSISTANT


With over 15 years marketing experience Milana brings a huge amount of experience to the team. With heavy focus on our customers needs and interests, she helps Planning By Design to reach, engage and educate clients on all things planning and design in new and innovative ways.

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