What do you need to get planning permission in the UK?

BLOG VAR •   2020

Although planning permission is required in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to build, you do not need to get it always.

The building of a new dwelling usually requires planning permission, as well as extensive changes to existing buildings or changing the use of land or buildings.

Your application for planning permission should be made to the local planning authority (from now on,  LPA).

All LPAs have their own website which will access all the relevant documents you need to create your application. You can also follow this link to start an online planning application:


But, what do I need to know before submitting my planning application? 

Hope the following list of questions about planning permission helps to clarify all you need to know

  1. Do I need planning permission?

  2. How long will it take to get planning permission?

  3. How much does it cost to get planning permission?

  4. Types of planning application: Outline or detailed?

  5. How to grant a Planning Permission?

  6. What documents do I need to include in the planning application?


1. Do I need planning permission?

If you are wanting to build a new dwelling  or knock down a rebuild, you will need permission from your LPA before you begin.

However, there are abundants improvements that you may be surprised to learn can be ventured without planning permission. 

Projects such as installing roof lights  or adding a conservatory can all be completed with implied consent known as Permitted Development (PD).

If you are not sure if your project needs planning permission, have a look at these categories of Permitted Development.

Class A – Extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration)

This allows a householder to build a single-storey side extension up to half the width of the existing dwelling; a single-storey rear extension up to 4m in length for a detached dwelling and 3m long for a semi or a terrace house; and, in certain circumstances, 3m two-storey rear extensions.

Class B – Additions to the roof

This allows for rear dormers and hip-to-gable extensions as long as the additional volume created does not exceed 50m3 (40m3 for semis and terraced homes).

Class C – Other alterations to the roof

Class D – Porches

Class E – Buildings etc. (outbuildings)

This allows for an outbuilding to be erected within a residential curtilage as long as it is sited behind the principal (often the front) elevation, does not cover more than 50% of the curtilage and is not more than 3m in height (4m for a dual-pitched roof; 2.5m where within 2m of a boundary).

There are also specific regulations relating to Hard Surfaces (Class F), Chimneys & Flues (Class G) and Microwave antennas (Class H).

Source: https://www.homebuilding.co.uk/permitted-development-rights-guide/

Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

2. How long will it take to get planning permission?

After 8 weeks you would discover if your application has been approved or not.
However, more complex schemes could take longer.

If you are having to make more than one application (following revisions or changes to the design), you should consider withholding 18 months for the process.

Securing planning permission doesn’t necessarily mean that you can start work straight away. Make sure you look at the planning conditions attached to the consent.


Photo by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

3. How much does it cost to get planning permission?

The cost of submitting a full planning application is £462 for a new single dwelling in England although that amount varies across the UK.

For home improvers, an application in England for an extension currently costs £206, whereas in Wales the cost of a typical householder application is currently £190.

However, the real cost of your planning permission possibly comes in:

  • Design fees.  Preparing the plans and documents ready for submission
  • Accompanying surveys which may be required. E.g. ecological survey

Taking that into account, a minimum budget of £2,000 is probably realistic for getting planning permission.

Moreover, keep in mind that you may need to make more than one planning application in order to reach agreement with the council and make revisions to your plans accordingly.

Photo by Sam Dan Truong on Unsplash

4. Types of planning application: Outline or detailed?

Full Planning Permission (Detailed)

A full planning permission would grant permission for all aspects of the proposed development, although it would generally be subject to various conditions (see below how to grant planning permission).
They must be discharged formally by letter by the local authority, usually before starting work.

Outline Planning Permission

Outline planning permission establishes whether the scale and nature of a proposed development would be acceptable to the local planning authority.
This grants permission in principle, but does not include design specifics and does not provide permission to initiate work. 

Take into account that an application for “reserved matters” – which may include those aspects that were not dealt with an outline planning permission such as the size of the proposed house, appearance, position, landscaping and access – will need to be submitted and approved before work can take place.

Also notice that if your detailed plans differ consistently from the original outline planning  or you want to start your project soon, then it would be advisable to apply for full planning permission.


Your LPA may accept a ‘hybrid’ application. That is, one that seeks outline planning permission for one part and full planning permission for another part of the same site.


White Model CGI created by VAR team for a new build dwellings in the UK

5. How to grant a Planning Permission?

Planning permissions are usually granted subject to a planning condition which requires the development to be commenced within three years.
Typically they will also include other conditions regarding environmental and noise issues, limits on the size and external appearance of a new development…
Some of these will need to be complied with before any work starts on site; others will take effect once the development is started, or even later.

You can check on the following link all those conditions



In addition to the mentioned conditions, there are 2 facts that will directly affect the granting of your planning permission.

  • Hire a skilled architectural firm

Some people think that not hiring consultants will help save money. But actually it would be a worthwhile investment that actually saves money, time and effort.
It is highly recommended  to find an architecture firm that focuses on planning permission. The selected firm should:

  1.  Produce designs that satisfy both your needs and the needs of the LPA. 
  2. Cultivate solid relationships with you and with your LPA and communicate well.
  3. Have ‘know-how’ expertise. They should understand the dangers of planning applications and have a strong understanding of UK planning law, contemporary design practice and planning policies.
  4. Have a striking track record. 
  5. Pursue creative solutions. When obstacles arise, the architect should provide flexible solutions that optimise the usage of space and increase chances of a successful application.
  6. Collaborate well. When specialised work is needed, the firm should be able to outsource the required service. E.G: if an architectural visualization is needed 


Contacts us if you are looking for architectural visualizations for planning
  • Research relevant planning policies

It is crucial to research the planning policies that will affect your project in order to create an effective design to grant planning permission.
Your LPA may have multiple overlapping policies in their development plan. Be sure to determine which ones will influence the outcome of your application.
In any case, certain issues will surely be taken into account. Here are a few common examples although it is for your local planning authority to decide how much weight should be given to each

  • Incompatible or unacceptable uses
  • Capacity of physical infrastructure
  • Effect on listed buildings and conservation area
  • Layout and density of building design and finishing materials
  • Overlooking and Loss of privacy
  • Loss of sunlight and loss or effect on trees
  • Overshadowing and Loss of outlook
  • Noise or smell disturbance
  • Highway issues

A skilled architecture firm we already referred to can do all the policy research for you and can determine which planning considerations will actually affect your proposal. 


6. What documents do I need to include in the planning application?

At least, your planning application should include:

  1. Five copies of application forms
  2. The signed ownership certificate
  3. A site plan, block plan, elevations of both the existing and proposed sites,
  4. A Design and Access Statement
  5. The correct fee

Architectural visualizations or CGIs will certainly help to show the consistency between the existing surrounding and your project and will explain easily to your LPA how you project adapt to the site. 

Moreover, there is no better way to prove your LPA a design and access statement than with a suitable CGI.

Contact us to talk about the CGIs you need for your planning application

Color Model CGI created by VAR team for a new build dwellings in the UK