Planning Permission Approved First Time: Your Guide for 2024

Table of Contents

    Introduction to Getting Planning Permission Approved

    Congratulations, you’ve acquired a plot full of potential or a dream fixer-upper. However, before you can bring your grand ideas to life, you must overcome a crucial obstacle: obtaining planning approval from your local council.

    The process of getting your planning permission approved can feel like navigating a perplexing maze filled with roadblocks and dead ends but it doesn’t have to be that way! Our guide will provide you with the knowledge you need to traverse local planning guidelines smoothly, kickstarting your project and avoiding long delays.

    Understanding Your Local Planning Policies

    As well as complying with the National Planning Framework, it is important to consider your local planning policies. Even the most stunning design can face rejection if it conflicts with your area’s guidelines. 

    These policies cover aspects such as:

    • Impact on Neighbours: Does your project respect your neighbours’ privacy rights and their access to sunlight?
    • Environmental Impact: Is the proposal likely to cause harm to wildlife or their natural habitats?
    • Noise and Disruption: How will both construction and the final project affect the surrounding area?
    • Building Design: Does the design match the overall style and density of the area?
    • Traffic Concerns: Will the proposals lead to congestion or parking issues?

    Being aware of these factors allows you to adapt your design to local requirements, significantly increasing your chances of approval.

    A middle-aged couple looking thoughtfully at a document.

    Where to Find Your Local Planning Policies

    Your local council should have links to this information on their website. Cornwall Council’s Planning Policy guidance is located in the Planning and Building Control section of their website. Their Cornwall Local Plan details key objectives, strategies, and infrastructure requirements for each area of the community.

    In addition to the Local Plan, there are also Neighbourhood Development Plans to take into consideration. While not every neighbourhood currently has a plan, communities are being encouraged to create their own plans and so more are being produced every year.

    Staying with our example of Cornwall, the council has a Neighbourhood Planning Activity Map, which shows the status of all Neighbourhood Plans in Cornwall.

    The Neighbourhood Development Plans themselves are typically found on the Parish Council’s websites. For example, here is the link to the first Neighbourhood Plan on Cornwall Council’s list, Blisland Neighbourhood Development Plan. However, if you cannot find a plan, your local council should have links to the approved documents. Here is Cornwall Council’s list of Neighbourhood Development Plans.

    The Importance of High Quality Design

    While following local planning policy is important, high-quality design is at the heart of every successful planning application. It’s the bridge that connects your aspirations with the practicalities of the built environment. Whether you’re extending your existing property or embarking on a new build, the design choices you make significantly impact the outcome.

    It may be tempting to use cookie-cutter plans thinking that these are the quickest and cheapest way to get planning, but this is rarely the case. Every site is different and presents unique opportunities and challenges when applying for planning approval. What works in one location is not guaranteed to work in another – and most likely won’t!

    Therefore, the best design for you is bespoke to your situation, embodying your visions, enhancing the neighbourhood, and harmonising with the existing environment. It’s about more than just aesthetics, a well-crafted design considers functionality, space, light, character, and value, bringing all these design elements together in context.

    Remember, it’s not just about meeting minimum requirements; it’s about exceeding them. Only with a high quality design will you see good results at planning.

    Communication is Key

    It is important to establish a positive relationship with your planning officer, local parish councillors, and neighbours, as well as anyone else who may be affected by your proposals. Community support significantly influences the outcome of your planning application.

    Before starting your project, consider having an informal conversation with your neighbours. Addressing any fears or concerns they might have about your plans before you start allows everyone peace of mind. They may even provide supportive comments for your application!

    During the application process, you might wish to present your design to the Parish council. While not always necessary, it can be helpful. It allows you to answer any questions they may have and receive feedback on changes they require to support your application. Having the support of parish councillors increases the likelihood of your application being approved.

    For a smoother planning process, consider working with an architect or planning consultant who has already established a good working relationship with local planning officers and parish councillors.

    A handshake,

    The Right Information

    In addition to the design, you also need to provide supporting information with your application. The type and amount will vary depending on the specific constraints of your site, the requirements of the local council, and the results of preliminary reports and investigations carried out.

    Cornwall Council provides a handy Validation Guide for anyone submitting an application. If you aren’t sure what is required, it’s worth checking your local council for their own Validation Guide. While there are some items that are necessary across the UK, each council has their own requirements as well.

    If you’re panicking at the overload of information, don’t worry. An architect will be able to tell you what preliminary information is required for your application, advise you on the outcomes of reports and surveys, and talk you through any further investigations required.

    Invest in Expertise

    Although saving money might be appealing, enlisting professional help can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Architect’s are well versed in national and local planning policies, understand good design, and develop key relationships with every planning application they submit.

    If you aren’t sure what is required for your planning application or what the council is likely to approve, find someone with the expertise to guide you through the process. For an easy option, we provide an Initial Appraisal service, which provides an assessment of the site and lists the collaborators you’ll require. As a bonus, we also provide a ballpark costing so you can check your project goals align with your budget at an early stage. If this sounds interesting, please contact us for more information.

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