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How do I Make a Planning Application?

If you have been told that you will need to apply for planning permission, you will need to make an application to your local council and pay the required application fee. For most applications, you will be able to complete the form yourself, attaching any plans or drawings of what you want to do; for more complicated applications, such as house extensions, you can employ someone (known as an agent) to draw the plans and submit the application for you.


The information that you need to submit with a planning application usually includes:

  • Planning application forms.
  • Drawings, including floor plans and elevations of the existing property and the proposed changes.
  • Site plan.
  • Design and Access Statement.
  • Any other supporting information - Depending on the proposal, this could include; a tree survey; a Transport Assessment; Flood Risk Assessment or an assessment of sunlight/daylight.
  • A fee, payable to the council.

You can get further information on the planning application process at the Planning Portal.

Planning applications come in two different types; these are:

  • Outline application - This is an application that looks to agree the principle of a particular use. It is mainly used for larger, more complicated types of development. If outline planning permission is granted, it is valid for three years. The development cannot take place until the matters of detail - the Reserved Matters have been submitted to and agreed by the council. Once this is done, the development should normally start within the next two years.
  • Detailed (Full) application - This type of application provides all the information needed to agree a development; this will include full drawings of what the development would look like and examples of the materials (bricks, roof tiles) that it would be built from. This type of application is used for all homeowner applications. If detailed planning permission is granted, it is also valid for three years.

You can submit your application to your council on paper or an increasing number of councils can now also accept applications by e-mail.


Most planning applications, especially those submitted by individual homeowners or small businesses will not need to provide any more information than that listed above.

For larger planning applications that involve the development of a number of new homes or larger commercial schemes, the applicant will often need to submit other detailed technical documents in support of an application. These will usually include:


This is required only where there are major development proposals or if the development will have 'significant environmental effects'; it allows a through assessment of the possible effects of a development. Projects that would be subject to Environmental Assessment (EA) would include; large housing or commercial development, roads and public transport schemes. The detailed guidance is set out in the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) (England and Wales) Regulations (SI 1999 No. 293).


Where a new development is likely to have significant transport impacts, a Transport Assessment (TA) should be prepared and submitted with a planning application for the development. It will then be used to determine whether the impact of the development on transport is acceptable. A TA is a comprehensive process that sets out transport issues relating to a proposed development. It identifies what measures will be taken to deal with the scheme's expected transport impacts and to improve accessibility and safety for all modes of travel, particularly for alternatives to the car such as walking, cycling and public transport. Full details about what the TA process can be found here.


These are usually a formal agreement between a council and a developer to provide necessary improvements or new facilities that are needed to support a new development. These improvements may need to be provided outside the development site; for example, a new school or new road improvement might be needed. Developers can agree to construct these facilities or carry out necessary improvements themselves or make what are known as 'commuted payments' to the council as a contribution towards the construction of these things at a later date if they are not needed immediately.

If a developer cannot negotiate a section 106 with the planning authority, they may choose to offer a 'unilateral undertaking' to the council. This is most often used in planning appeals if the developer considers that the council's requirements are 'excessive'.

The term section 106 agreement is named after the relevant part of the Town & Country Planning Act 1990 that deals with this issue, but these agreements are also known as 'Planning Obligations'. Further guidance on this can also be found in DCLG Circular 5/2005 - Planning Obligations.

The Government is currently developing plans for a new system of 'development charges', known as the 'Community Infrastructure Levy' (CIL). This system will work alongside the section 106 system, but no date has yet been set for its introduction. More information on the CIL can be found here.


Once you have submitted your planning application to the council, the following this will happen:

  • The owners and occupiers of neighbouring properties will be contacted to let them know about your application and to ask them for any comments.
  • Major applications will also be advertised in a local newspaper to reflect the fact that more people may have an interest in making comments:
  • A planning officer will visit the site.
  • Planning officers will look at the proposed development and its layout and design. They will assess the impact of it on the surrounding area, how it affects neighbours, its effect on the area's residential amenity, highway safety, etc. This can be a complicated task so the planning officers will try to balance these things in the best interests of everyone.
  • Planning officers will also look at the council's planning policy document, either the UDP or LDF to see if there are any other issues that are relevant. The Council must consider (or have regard to) the policies in its development plan documents, when assessing planning applications.
  • Consultations will take place with other bodies that have specific interests or knowledge to see if they have any particular comments they would want to make. These bodies or groups would include those who provide specialist advice on nature conservation or transport issues where it is relevant to what is being proposed. In most homeowner application cases, these consultations would not be necessary.
  • In reaching a decision on whether to approve or refuse an application, planning officers may make the decision themselves; this is known as a delegated decision. In the case of larger applications or where objections have been made to an application, a report would be presented to the council's planning committee; a recommendation of refusal or approval would be made, but it would be the committee that would make the decision on behalf of the council.
  • The council may not be allowed to decide some applications if they raise significant issues or the council is considering allowing development that is not supported by the council's planning policies. In these cases. The application may be 'called in' by the Secretary of State or by the Mayor, who will then assess the application.
  • After a decision is made a Decision Notice is issued. This must give reasons for refusal or approval and/or for any conditions attached to the permission.


These are the matters that the planning officer or committee will consider as relevant when deciding a planning application. Normally, the council's planning policies in its UDP or LDF and the Government's national planning guidance will be important factors; however, there may be other things that can be accepted as material considerations; these include:

  • Loss of light/overshadowing
  • Noise
  • Hours of operation
  • Road safety, access and parking
  • Sustainability
  • Conservation and ecology
  • Design issues
  • Landscaping
  • Disabled access and parking
  • Crime and Safety

Equally, there some issues that cannot be considered to be material considerations. These include:

  • Competition between businesses
  • The viability of business
  • Devaluation of property
  • Personal circumstances
  • Cost of the development
  • Disruption from construction works
  • Land ownership
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Constructional details
  • Issues more readily covered by other legislation


Conditions are normally attached to most planning permissions to make sure that the development is built and managed in the way that the Council has approved. For example, one of the most frequently used conditions is that the Council must approve all of the materials (bricks, tiles, etc.) that will be used to make sure that the development fits into its local environment. Another condition for business premises is that a condition may control its hours of operation to reduce the impact on local residents.

Any conditions used by the council must be clear and reasonable. If you feel that any conditions are unclear or unreasonable, you can make another planning application to the council to change or remove them or appeal against them.


If your application has been approved, you should be able to start your development, but before doing this please check:

  • Any conditions (such as type of materials) or time limits approved as part of your application.
  • Have you received any necessary Building Regulations approval?
  • If you live in a conservation area or in a listed building, have you got the necessary additional consents?



What is Planning Permission and do I Need it?

Building Regulations

Planning Appeals