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How Long Does Planning Permission Take?

Although not always required, planning permission is a crucial step in many construction and renovation projects. Often our clients are uncertain about what the process entails and the time it can take to obtain planning permission.


So how long does planning take? And what other factors can influence the timeline?


The simple answer is that once an application is submitted, planning permission takes a minimum of 8 weeks. Although it isn’t always that straightforward…


Photos of our project in the South Gloucestershire greenbelt, which saw a garage converted into a new dwelling.


Understanding the Basics


Before delving into the specifics, it's important to understand the basics of planning permission in England. Planning permission is required for most new developments, changes of use, and alterations to existing structures. The process is administered by local planning authorities (LPAs), who aim to strike a balance between development and the protection of the environment and community.


Application Type


The type of planning application you submit can significantly impact the time it takes to receive permission. There are three main categories: Householder Applications, Minor Applications and Major Applications.


Typically, we find clients’ applications fall under the category of a 'householder' application, which is an application used for smaller projects like home extensions.


If you reside in a flat you will require 'full planning permission', regardless of the size of your project. In this instance, you (or your architect) must notify relevant parties with an interest in the building's lease.


‘Full planning permission’ is also necessary for new homes. Householder and Full Planning Applications generally take around 8 weeks for a decision.


It is also essential to take into account whether your home is situated in a conservation area or is a listed building. Both scenarios may require a certain type of application or necessitate more extensive information for submission.


There are also other aspects to consider, like being situated in the Green belt, a World Heritage Site (we're looking at you, Bath) or Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to name just a few.


If you appoint an architect, they can advise on the type of application applicable to your project, as well as collate all relevant information on your behalf.


Photos of our project in the Kent countryside, which involved the conversion of an agricultural shed to a dwelling.


Other Factors Affecting the Timeline


Pre-Application Advice


Before submitting a planning application, it is sometimes advisable to seek pre-application advice from your local planning authority. This step can help identify potential issues and streamline the process of a full application. Pre-applications are not made public, which can be useful to test the waters with the LPA before making an application known to the wider community.


The time it takes to receive this advice is generally around 8 weeks. On more challenging applications, it can save time in the long run and ensure there is less abortive design work down the line.


Scale


Once a planning application is submitted, its timeframe hinges on the scale of your work. The prescribed period for processing validated planning applications (which local planning authorities are expected not to exceed) stands at 8 weeks for straightforward cases, 13 weeks for particularly large or intricate applications, and 16 weeks if the application undergoes an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).


Typically, home improvements would fall under the 8-week category. However, this 8-week can be extended by the Local Authority if they obtain written consent from either the applicant or the agent (usually an architect). An instance where an extension of time might occur is if additional information or details are requested by the LPA.


Because of this, it's important to work with an architect who acts as your representative. Proactive architects can maintain regular communication with the Council to ensure any concerns and requests for additional information are addressed promptly.


Application Quality


The quality of your planning application plays a crucial role in the approval process. Incomplete or poorly prepared applications can result in delays. To expedite the process, make sure all necessary documents, drawings, and supporting information are submitted accurately and comprehensively. If you appoint an architect, they can ensure that the correct documents are submitted.


Public Consultation


In all cases (excluding pre-applications), neighbours are notified when you submit a planning application. The first couple of weeks of an application timeline are usually allocated for your neighbours to submit their comments.


We often advise our clients to notify their neighbours before the submission of their application. This makes sure that neighbours feel considered, and often results in less negative comments being submitted to the LPA.


In some cases, planning applications may require a period of public consultation, especially for major developments. This step can add extra time to the process as LPAs gather public opinions and consider objections or support from local residents.


Photos of our project in Keynsham which is nearing completion and involved an extension to a listed building.



Tips to Speed Up the Process

  1. Plan in Advance: We haven’t touched on the design process in this blogpost, which is arguably the most important (and fun part!) of a project. We would recommend allowing one to three months for this, before a planning application is submitted.

  2. Obtain Professional Guidance: Consider working with experienced architects and planning consultants who are familiar with the local planning process and can help streamline your application.

  3. Seek Pre-Application Advice: If your project is a little trickier, engage with your LPA early to get valuable feedback and address potential issues before formally submitting your application.

  4. Consider Public Engagement: Communicate with your neighbours to address any early concerns or objections (within reason, of course).

  5. Compile Accurate and Clear Documentation: Ensure that your application is well-prepared, with all necessary documents and drawings submitted accurately and comprehensively.



An insight into our design process for an extension in Bristol, which is currently onsite.



Your Project


The timeline for obtaining planning permission can vary widely, depending on a number of factors. Hopefully our blog has given an insight into this.


It’s important to note that Planning Applications are not always needed, which we have explored further in a previous blogpost of ours.


Each project is unique, so early engagement of an architect can help you navigate this process, providing guidance and advice specific to you.


We have lots of examples of planning approvals we have obtained over on our blog, these include change of use applications, extensions to listed buildings and projects in the conservation area.


Should you require any more information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. You can contact us, here, and we would be more than happy to help.




 

Commonly Asked Questions


Can I obtain Planning Permission in a Conservation Area or if my home is listed?

For the most part, yes! There is a common misconception that living in a conservation area or listed building means you can’t make changes to your home. More sensitive and creative solutions may be required within the design, and extra information might be needed to submit to your LPA, but this can be handled by your architect.


What happens once I have submitted my application?

Once your application is submitted, it will need to be ‘validated’ by the council. This is a check undertaken by the LPA to ensure all the relevant information has been submitted.

Once your application has been validated, and a case officer assigned, all there is to do is wait… Or at least that’s the case if you engage with an architect. Architects can act as your agent, therefore managing the planning application process for you and carrying out communications with the LPA on your behalf.


What happens if my Planning Application gets refused?

Unfortunately planning approval is not guaranteed, however well thought through your proposal is.

If your application is denied, then you have the right to appeal. This can add a considerable amount of time to the process, usually around 6 months, depending on the complexity of your case. Appeals are handled by the Planning Inspectorate. Take a look at a successful appeal of ours, here.


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