5 Tips to help get your planning approved


Depending on the size and location of your project, getting planning permission for your it can be a long and tough process. Sometimes it may also cost a lot of money. Most planning applications are denied not because it can’t be built, but just because you don’t know your technical jargon, or you missed out a tiny but important part.

Whether you are trying to get planning permission for an extension on your own house, to build a new one, or for refurbishing an existing property, you should  take note of these top pieces of advice if you want to increase your likelihood of success.

Know your policy

Many local authorities have their own policies in addition to or instead of national policies, and you need to be aware of these. The best place to start finding these is on your local authorities website. The planning pages can be tricky to find, but luckily, there is a centralized database here, just click the link, enter your postcode and you will be taken directly to your local authorities planning pages. These will give you an insight into what some of the most important things are in your region and whether there are any strategies in place that your application will be tested against.

If you are thinking of converting a previous family home into a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO), you need to first find out whether there is an Article 4 Direction in force and if so, what areas does it cover and what are the specifics of the policy requirements? This will give you some indication of the likelihood of being approved.

It is also recommended that you look at previous planning applications for work similar to what you would like to carry out so you can get a better idea how local policies are applied. What do your local authority approve of as an appropriate development and do they emphasise parking, or neighbourhood amenities or house size as factors in their decision making?

Use planning jargon

If your application is in clear English and uses clear, industry standard terminology, then it’s less probable your planning officer will flag you up to question terminology, greatly slowing down the process. I’ll repeat – your phrasing is very important. Avoid using buzz words such as sustainability, street scene and access will make a huge difference to how your application will be perceived – each of these words may be undestood differently depending on the reader, and can be interpreted in different ways. Be very to be specific and to the point– a big extension doesn’t make it clear what you will be building, a 4 metre good quality design extension says exactly what it does on the tin.

Definitely no lies – it’s a bad idea to say there will be no disturbance to neighbours if it’s likely there will be, and your planning officer will challenge you on this. It’s always better to say things like  there will be minimal disturbance.

Get the right maps

Every single planning application requires a site plan and a block plan. Go to your local planning portal and download your maps – all councils charge roughly the same amount. Ensure you draw in red around the whole plot, not the building. Do not use any other colours – they won’t be accepted. Make sure you also check to see if there are any previous planning applications on your proposed site. If the permitted development rights have not changed, you may be able to use existing plans.

Speed up validation

You should note that the 8-week time frame does not start on the date that you submit the planning application, rather it starts on the day that your Planning Officer validates your submission. Planning departments don’t always use the most up to date software, so its always worth saving your word documents in the 1997-2003 format to ensure they can open your documents. You should also name your files clearly, with the filename clearly describing what it is. IMG_4524.jpg is not as good as Party_Wall.jpg. If you don’t, the Planning Officer has to open it, make a best guess what it is and move on to the next. It can be time consuming and frustrating  for them, especially if they have to do it many times. Give it a description rather than a reference. So ‘rear extension A3’, not ‘drawing 3’.

Talk to people

Talk to your neighbours, local builders and your Planning Officer. When you introduce yourself and explain your intentions, you could save a lot of time having to deal with any concerns later down the line.

Any work we undertake at AFM, we will always offer to write up your planning proposal and submit this for you, ensuring we can get the ball rolling as soon as possible.