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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Apply for planning permission

If you need planning permission for your building work, you can apply online through the Planning Portal to your local council. Find out how to apply, how much it costs and how long it takes.

Applying for planning permission – the basic steps

You need to go through certain steps to get planning permission:

  • check if you need permission for your development
  • if you don’t need permission, you can go ahead with your development
  • if you need permission, you should apply through the Planning Portal
  • the Planning Portal sends your application to the local planning authority at your council
  • your local planning authority decides if your development can go ahead
  • your local planning authority will contact you with their decision
  • if you don’t agree with the council’s decision, you can appeal against it (see link 'Make a planning appeal')

Check first if you need planning permission

For many smaller building developments you don't need planning permission

Before applying for planning permission make sure you need it for your planned building work. A number of smaller building developments, eg many extensions or conservatories, don't need planning permission.

These are called ‘permitted developments’ and you don't need planning permission as long as certain conditions are met. In some cases permitted development rights may have been withdrawn. You should check with your local planning authority.

If you live in a designated area, eg a conservation area, or if your house is a listed building, different rules apply. Check with your local planning authority what the rules for your building project are.

You can apply for listed building or conservation area consent online through the Planning Portal to your local planning authority.

Before you apply for planning permission

A planning application can be a complex process and you need to have several documents ready before you can complete the application form. You need the necessary plans and mandatory national and local documentation.

For example, you always need a site location plan (showing the proposed development in relation to its surrounding properties) and a block plan (showing proposed development in relation to the property boundary).

The supporting documents you may have to supply vary from council to council. You can talk to a planning officer at your local council to check if you have all the documents you need. Some councils charge for this service.

Letting someone else handle your application

If you don’t want to handle the planning application yourself, you can ask your agent, architect, solicitor or builder to do it for you.

If you’re not the sole owner of your property or if the property is a leasehold, you need to inform the owner/part owner and any leaseholders who have at least seven years left on their lease.

The planning application process

You can apply for planning permission on the Planning Portal website. You have to register with the Planning Portal to use the online application form. There are guides on the website that will help you with your application. If you don’t want to apply online, you can download a paper application form and apply by post.

After the Planning Portal receives your application, it sends it to the local planning authority at your council. The local planning authority will check the application and make it public to give other people the opportunity to comment on it if they want to.

After this consultation the council will decide whether your application is approved or refused. You should only start your building work after you get confirmation from the council saying that you have planning permission.

If your permission is refused, you should talk to the planning authority to find out why. You can then amend your application and send it in again. As a last resort, if you think the authority's decision is unreasonable, you may wish to consider appealing to the Secretary of State.

The decision process

The council will try to decide your application within eight weeks. If it needs longer, it will usually write to you and ask for an extension. For example, this might happen if your building project is very complex or a lot of people are affected by it.

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