Achieving Planning Permission


For many of us, having been granted planning permission is a momentous occasion. Depending on the complexity of the scheme, you or your agent may have had several negotiations involving withdrawals, revisions and re-submissions. But what have you been granted approval for? After months of dialogue the design may suddenly look severely diluted from what you originally envisaged. It is essential to confirm all the conditions that come with planning permission.

A planning approval document is largely divided into two parts. Part 1 describes the proposal and the location to which it relates to and part II lists the conditions that come with the approval. Make sure of the following

1.    Description of scheme – as soon as your application would have arrived at the planning officer’s desk , he or she will have revised the explanation of the scheme provided by you or your agent to suit the language of the LPA ( Local Planning Authority). You would have had a chance to point out misunderstandings of the scheme at this stage; likewise be certain that the description of the proposal on the planning approval document is what you negotiated and have accepted.

2.    Check that the drawings associated with the approval documents are pertinent.

3.    Planning permission is valid for three years from the date of approval. If you decide to hike the Himalayas for a while and then get back to build your extension, check to see if your planning permission has not reached its use by date. It is possible to extend the approval for another three years for a small administration fee, provided the proposal has not already expired, failing which you would have to go through the entire planning process again and planners have a tendency to change their minds.

4.    In some cases , to retain the character of the locality, one of the conditions to granting permission may be a joint scheme with your neighbour, where both of you are expected to make changes at the same time or complete within a set time frame. Make sure you and your neighbour are aware of this condition. Under certain circumstances you will be allowed to appeal for removal of this stipulation.

5.    A requirement to get approval for materials prior to construction may also be a condition. This will strictly be enforced say if you are in a conservation area or even close to one.

6.    You will invariably be asked to obscure bathroom windows facing your neighbour- unless of course your neighbour is Stevie Wonder.

7.    All planners are self confessed tree huggers. The conditions to granting permission may need you to preserve or even plant new trees and shrubs.

8.    Lastly and importantly, though not mentioned in the approval document you would have to get building regulations approval for all the works that you propose to carry out. This is done by either submitting technical plans to the council for prior approval, where you would get an opportunity to make amendments or issue a building notice just before starting construction and allow the district surveyor to inspect the build from time to time and ask for changes. 

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