Applying for planning permission How to apply

Which? Archive

This article, Applying for planning permission, was last updated on 28 March 2008 and is now out of date and held in our online archive for reference. Explore our latest Home & garden articles.

Applying for planning permission may seem a daunting prospect but gaining an understanding of the process can help. Careful research can pay dividends, helping your application get through without delays. There are five key steps.

Step 1 Talk to the planning office at your local council informally before you do anything.

Step 2 If your project requires it, apply for planning permission, taking into account the advice the planning office gave you.

Step 3 Your application will be published and neighbours can comment on it.

Step 4 You are either granted planning permission or it is refused.

Step 5 If refused, you can make amendments and re-apply, or appeal. 

Talk to the planners

This is a very important step. You will benefit from taking the time and effort to show the planning office at your local council what they would like to do, especially if you give them information to help assess the potential for planning permission before you make a formal application.

This doesn’t mean that any rules will be bent on your behalf, but it does give you an invaluable ‘heads up’ on what you can and can’t do, and may save you the cost of of making an unsuccessful application.

Think about how you contact the planners. There is nothing like human contact for building a working relationship. The best option is to ring and speak to someone within the planning office to find out the name of the person that looks after your area (you’ll need a postcode).

Provide information

Ask them what information you can provide upfront to receive their advice. It is likely that they would ask you to do the following:

  • Lay out clearly in a letter what it is that you intend to do.
  • Give an indication of what materials you are likely to be using, e.g. stone, brick, timber with PVC-U windows or wooden sash windows.
  • Include a diagram of your property. Try to do it to scale and use different colours to show clearly what you are hoping to do, and where.
  • Take photos of the whole of your property, the specific area where you are planning to make the changes and the surrounding area. Include issues such as boundaries that you have with a neighbour’s property or the public highway, and properties opposite or that have had similar work carried out.

 Talk to your neighbours

Once you have received informal feedback from the planning office, talk to your neighbours who may be affected by the work. Ideally gain their support or make alterations, if you can, that will help ensure they don’t scupper your plans by putting in an objection that could have been avoided.