Ben Grover | May 27

An Architect's Guide to Planning

John Scaife of Box Valley Architectural Design Breaks Down The Planning Process

Before you start your construction project.

Before starting any building work, it is always best to check if the project will require planning permission and/or building regulations. This is a basic guide to cover residential extensions and conversions.
Put simply, Planning Permission relates to the design and appearance of the property. Building Regulations relate to the construction and workmanship.

Planning Permission

1. What is Planning Permission?
Planning permission, also known as planning consent, is the formal permission from your local authority, which allows you to extend and alter your property. A planning officer will review your proposals and decide whether the scheme is acceptable in terms of design and its effect on neighbouring properties.

2. Do I need Planning Permission?
For most major projects you will almost certainly require planning permission, but for some minor schemes, such as garage conversions and small rear extensions, these can sometimes be carried out under your permitted development (PD) rights.
PD allows homeowners to make small changes to their properties without the need for formal permission. There are numerous rules relating to PD including size & height of the extension. Listed buildings, houses in conservation areas and houses on new build estates or previously extensively extended properties, often have their PD rights removed.
If you can proceed under the PD route, then we often suggest seeking a Certificate of Lawfulness of Proposed Use or Development from the local authority in order to create a formal record of the works and their legitimacy.
Generally, it is always best to check with your architect or local authority before commencing any works.

3.  How much does planning permission cost?
Application fees vary depending on the nature of the project, but currently a standard householder planning application is £206. This is the cost for the local authority to review and issue their decision.

4. What other costs are likely?
You will need to agree fees with the architect to prepare the necessary drawings. These can vary greatly depending on the nature and complexity of the scheme. Other consultant reports are occasionally required; such as tree surveys, ecology reports, listed building reports etc.

5. How do I apply for planning permission?
Your architect can apply via the planning portal. This is an online service where you upload the required drawings and complete the application form. This is then forwarded to the relevant local authority.

6. How long does it take to get planning permission?
Generally, for small scale projects, the decision is issued within 8 weeks.

7. How long does the permission last for?
Unless otherwise noted on the approval notice, the permission usually lasts for 3 years. There are ways to secure the permission further should this time limit become an issue.

8. Can I make changes to the scheme after planning approval?
Yes, depending on the nature and the amount of changes, there are routes to allow changes to the design.

9. What if planning permission is refused?
The architect should be in contact with the planning officer before a decision is made to react to this possibility. It might be that just a small element needs to be re-designed or there may be a fundamental problem, in which case, the application can be withdrawn and a new one submitted. If it is within 12 months, then there is no additional planning fee. There are options to appeal decisions if it is felt viable to do so.

Building Regulations

1. What are Building Regulations?
In general terms, the Building Regulations are a set of minimum construction standards for the design and building work applying to most buildings and alterations to existing properties.  They include consideration of materials and workmanship requirements, structural design, fire safety, sound insulation and energy conservation.
When plans are submitted they are initially desktop checked (Plans check), then, when work starts on site, the Inspector regularly visits the site (Inspection check).
2. Do I need to apply?
Anyone wishing to carry out building work, which is subject to the Building Regulations, is legally required to make sure it complies and obtains approval from Building Control.  
Certain types of small extensions are exempt, but it is always best to check with Building Control.

3. Where to get approval?
The Building Control submission will usually be made by your architect. There are two types of Building Control service available: Building Control provided by your local authority (LA) or Building Control provided by a privately approved inspector (AI).
4. How long does it take for approval?
For full plans, you can expect a decision within 3 to 6 weeks.
You will receive the completion certificate within 8 weeks from completion of the building works.

5. How much do Building Regulations applications cost?
Most local authorities and approved inspectors will quote for the work on a case by case basis, but, as a rough guide, a medium sized extension would be approximately:
Plans check - £200
Inspection check - £500
6.  What other costs are likely?
You will need your architect to develop the planning drawings into more detailed technical drawings. Similar to the planning drawings the costs will depend on the size and complexity of the scheme. 
If you are removing any walls or require any steelwork in a new extension, then it is likely that a structural engineer will be required to calculate beam sizes etc.

If you have any queries on a project and would like to talk through the options, then we are always happy to offer no obligation advice.
John Scaife
Box Valley Architectural Design
07950 582730
[email protected]

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