Applying for planning permission is a notoriously complex and frustrating process. Even agents and planning consultants will tell you this. For those not au fait with the process, preparing a planning application is no easy feat even for the most straightforward projects: it can be tricky to know exactly what your Local Planning Authority expects of your project.
As an environmental and energy consultancy, we work on large commercial and residential projects with major national developers across the country. We also work with individuals renovating their homes or building single dwellings, offering bespoke advice throughout the planning, design and completion stages.
This means we are no stranger to the planning application process. We have almost twenty years of experience liaising with Local Planning Authorities directly so that we can provide our clients with the very best energy statements and daylight studies. So, we thought our insights may be useful for anyone new to the planning application process.
Do I need planning permission?
If you’re planning a large-scale commercial or residential development, or building your dream home, then planning permission is a must.
If you’re renovating or wanting to expand your home by way of a loft extension or conservatory, then it’s slightly trickier to know if your local council requires planning permission.
Planning portal hosts some very useful resources. Have a browse here to find out when you do and do not need planning permission.
How long will a planning application take?
Minor and household planning applications are normally decided within 8 weeks.
Large or more controversial developments can take up to 13 weeks to be decided.
What do I need to submit as part of a planning application?
There are two levels of mandatory documents which need to be submitted to your local authority as part of your planning application: these are national and local. Every Local Planning Authority expects you to meet national minimum requirements to be granted planning permission.
The mandatory documents are:
- The standard application form
- Location plan
- Site Plan (sometimes known as a block plan)
- A certificate of ownership
- Agricultural holdings certificate – this is required whether or not the site includes an agricultural holding. All agricultural tenants must be notified prior to the submission of the application
- Design and access statement (if required)
- Fire Statement (if required)
- Correct application fee
Local planning requirements vary from local authority to local authority. This means you need to do your research to find out what your local authority expects. Many Local Planning Authorities have their own local development plan. Your planning application must be decided in line with the specifications outlined in the relevant local plan.
Essentially, Local Planning Authorities are different and therefore, they will require different things of your project. For example, every local authority requires you to meet national minimum energy efficiency standards, but some may require your project to exceed national targets by 10% (or more!).
The government website can tell you what your Local Planning Authority is with a simple postcode search: find out here.
How we can help you receive planning permission
If this is your second attempt at the same planning application, or even better your first, then seeking out the advice of a professional consultant is a good investment.
Even for smaller projects, many planning authorities require an energy statement as part of your planning permission application. An energy statement demonstrates how the proposed development will meet the energy and carbon emission targets dictated by the UK’s Building Regulations and the standards set by each LPA. (For more information about energy statements read our article here).
Before beginning your planning application, it’s important to also realise that some local planning authorities will be guided by the tests laid out in the Building Research Establishment (BRE) document ‘Site Layout Planning for Daylight and Sunlight’. If this is the case, you will be required to carry out a Daylight and Sunlight Study before applying for planning permission.
To meet the local energy and daylight requirements, its necessary to get an energy consultant on board as early in the process as possible. Our dedicated planning team will liaise directly with your Local Planning Authority to identify their individual energy/carbon reduction targets and daylight requirements. We will then carry out accurate daylight calculations and/or write up a bespoke energy statement which details how your project will meet these specific energy and daylight standards. On top of this, we work closely with other key design team consultants so that we can offer you the most cost-effective solutions to meeting these targets.
If you’re building in London, you will likely know that the Greater London Authority (GLA) sets its energy standards independently from those of the Local Planning Authorities. This can add an extra layer of complexity to the planning permission process, but our planning team knows the ins and outs of the GLA regulations. Whereas most local planning authorities across the UK set their own energy targets, the GLA sets overriding minimum standards to which all boroughs in London must adhere.
This may seem like a lot to take in and we don’t blame you. The main take away is do your research. Know what building regulations require of your project and read your planning authority’s local policy. If your Local Planning Authority requires a daylight study or an energy statement (many do), then get in touch to find out how we can offer you support.