What Do I Need to Get Planning Approval? A Guide to the Planning Process, Requirements, and Timescales

Philip Jennings |

Embarking on a construction or renovation project can be an exciting journey, but obtaining planning approval is a crucial step that can sometimes feel daunting. As a professional architect, I’m here to guide you through the planning process, explain what is required for a planning application, and shed light on the typical timescales involved. Let’s demystify this process in a friendly and helpful tone.

Understanding the Planning Process:

The planning process is the system by which local authorities regulate the use, design, and development of land and properties within their jurisdiction. It aims to balance the needs and desires of property owners with those of the community and the environment. Here’s a simplified overview of the typical steps:

Pre-Application Advice:

Before submitting an application, it’s often wise to seek pre-application advice from your local planning authority if you are opting for a larger proposal. This initial step can help you understand the likelihood of approval and identify any potential issues or modifications required. It is important to note that most extensions don’t require this step so long as you are working with an experienced architect that has a good understanding of planning requirements.

Application Submission:

To initiate the process, you’ll need to prepare and submit a planning application to your local planning authority. This application includes essential documents and information outlining your project, such as architectural drawings, site plans, design and access statements, and more.

Public Consultation:

In many cases, especially for larger or more contentious projects, there will be a period of public consultation. Neighbours and the community may have the opportunity to review and comment on your proposal.

Planning Officers’ Review:

Planning officers will then assess your application against local and national planning policies. They will consider factors such as the impact on the environment, design, traffic, and neighbourhood character.


The local planning authority will make a decision based on the planning offi cers’ recommendations and any public input. This decision can result in three possible outcomes: approval, conditional approval (with certain modifications or conditions), or refusal.

Appeals and Further Consultation:

If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal the decision. Alternatively, you may choose to amend your proposal and resubmit it for further consideration.

What Is Required for a Planning Application?

Now, let’s delve into the essential components of a planning application:

  1. Completed Application Form:
    Begin by fi lling out the necessary forms provided by your local planning authority. This is most often done via the planning portal website.
  2. Site Location Plan:
    Include a site location plan that clearly shows your property in relation to neighbouring properties, roads, and landmarks. This helps to provide context.
  3. Architectural Drawings:
    High-quality architectural drawings are a vital part of your application. These should illustrate the current and proposed designs, dimensions, and materials used in your project.
  4. Fee Payment:
    Be prepared to pay the required application fee, which varies depending on the scale and complexity of your project.

Timescales Involved:

The timescales for planning approval can vary widely based on factors such as the complexity of your project, the local planning authority’s workload, and any public consultations required. On average, you can expect:

  • Pre-Application Phase: This can take several weeks or months, depending on how quickly you can gather information and seek advice.
  • Application Processing: After submission, the planning authority typically takes eight to thirteen weeks to make a decision on your application. Complex projects may take longer.
  • Appeals: If you decide to appeal a refusal, this process can take several months, depending on the caseload of the planning inspectorate.

It’s crucial to plan ahead, anticipate potential delays, and be patient throughout the process.

Obtaining planning approval is a critical step in your construction or renovation project. Understanding the planning process, meeting the requirements for a planning application, and being aware of the timescales involved can help you navigate this process with confidence. Consider seeking professional advice and guidance to increase your chances of a successful outcome, and remember that patience and preparation are your allies in securing planning approval for your project.

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