Planning permission in England: what you need to know

As the property market continues to boom, many potential house hunters are instead choosing to stay put and improve their own homes. But if they’re thinking of extending, what are the planning permission rules they need to follow?

Planning permission in England is needed from the relevant planning authority (the local council) if someone wants to:

  • Build something new
  • Make a major change, such as an extension
  • Change the use of a building

However, some projects don’t need planning permission and can be completed under what is known as permitted development rights.

After you apply for planning permission, the local planning authority will decide whether to grant planning permission, based on its development plan for the area.

Considerations will be made with regards to:

  • The size, number, layout and external appearance of buildings
  • Infrastructure such as roads and water supply
  • Landscaping
  • Use
  • Effect on the surrounding area

Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, but larger projects can take up to 13 weeks to get a decision.

If it is needed, failure to win planning permission from the council before work begins could lead to an enforcement notice being issued, forcing a homeowner to undo all the work they have done. It’s illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but the decision can be appealed.

Government information about the process, and information about planning permission in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, can be found here, while planning applications can be submitted online through the Planning Portal.