Before making any changes to a building, including house extensions, your local authority must grant you with planning permission.

At Earnock Builders we take care of tedious processes like planning permissions and structural drawings for you. This means more time and less stress.

Understanding what exactly planning permission is and how to go about getting it can be confusing. This is why we’ve put together this complete guide for you:

What is planning permission?

The planning department of a local authority is usually in charge of granting the formal permission. Planning permission is needed when; something new is being built, a major change is being made to a building or the use of the building is being changed.

Permission can either be granted or rejected. The decision is finalised by considering various factors. For permission to be granted, the resident of the building must also be the owner.

Applying for planning permission

Nowadays, you can apply for planning permission online, through your local authorities’ website.

When applying, you must include certain information, such as; a description of the development, your name and address, a certificate of ownership and a plan which clarifies the location of the application site.

Once the application is submitted, it takes about eight weeks for a decision to be made. If the application is larger, the decision time can take longer. If the planning department grants you permission, you have up to three years to begin the development before validity expires. When validity expires you must reapply.

There is a fee for submitting a planning permission application, but this will depend on the nature of your planned development. The fees also differ in parts of the UK.

You do not need to apply for planning permission for small developments such as building garages.


What impacts planning permission?

So, what exactly is it that impacts planning permission? Here are just a few:


To avoid any major issues neighbours should be made aware of the work you plan to carry out on your property.  They could take legal action if the planned work was to seriously overshadow a window and affect their “right to light.”

Consulting your neighbours is one of the most important things you should do first. This is to address any worries and concerns before applying for planning permission.


The importance of having a good design is an essential part of sustainable development.

You must have a good design for your creation that can work well, last long and be adaptable for the future. Your local authority can issue design guides.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government; “Good design is indivisible from good planning, and should be at the heart of the planning process.”

Conservation areas

If the planned work is in an area of importance that is protected by the law, you will need conservation area consent. This is required if a building with a volume of more than 115 cubic metres is to be demolished, or a gate, fence, wall or railing over 1 metre high next to a highway.

Listed buildings

You’ll need to apply for consent if the planned work is to demolish a listed building or alter or extend a listed building. A Conservation officer can advise you on whether or not consent is necessary.

Carrying out work on a listed building without consent is a criminal offence.

Nature and wildlife

You should consider the effects that your work could have on wildlife. Certain legislations can protect plants, animals and habitats. This can be via the ‘Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981′ or under European legislation. You can seek advice if your plans would affect any of these.

When permission isn’t granted

The planning department may reject permission if plans fail to satisfy any of the above factors. However, it is possible to make an appeal to a planning inspector. The inspector will investigate the case and finalise the decision.

Carrying out work without permission is known as a “planning breach.”

A breach can also happen when you are granted permission under conditions but break the conditions.

Local authorities have the right to issue an enforcement notice if a breach is found. The notice can order you to obey the conditions or have the work you’ve done reversed by a certain date.

In most cases, the planning department will grant permission. There are many organisations where you can seek advice before applying for permission, the main one being your local council.

When do you now need planning permission?

Minor alterations and small extensions that extend less than 4 meters squared from the building may be classed as a ‘permitted development‘ along with a host of other alterations.

If you believe your alteration does not need planning permission you should apply for a certificate of lawfulness. A certificate of lawfulness costs less than planning permission.