Do you have a home extension on your mind, but find yourself feeling confused by all the planning permission malarkey? Don't worry, we all are - but it's less hassle than you think when you break it down into nice easy steps, which is exactly what we've done!
Step 1: Check that planning permission is needed
Depending on the size of your extension, you may not need official planning permission. Instead, the extension may fall into the category of 'permitted development'. There are a whole host of rules about this categorisation which you can find on the Planning Portal website but as an example, the extension must:
● Not cover more than half the area of land surrounding your original house
● Be no higher than the highest part of your existing roof
● Not extend beyond your home's rear wall by more than three metres for detached houses and four metres for detached houses
● Be constructed from materials similar in appearance to the original house
● Not have verandas, raised platforms or balconies.
Be sure to check out the full list because there are many, many more rules! Once that's done, and if you think your property does fall into the permitted development property, you're good to start building. Wasn't that easy? If your extension definitely isn't a permitted development, you'll need to apply for full planning permission.
Step 2: Check with your neighbours
Even if your extension is a permitted development, you'll want to let your neighbours know what your building plans are and let them raise any concerns. There's a risk that your work could affect their 'right to light' if it overshadows their property and this can lead to them to taking legal action against you, so check they're happy with the plans and, if not, consider reworking your designs.
If you do need to apply for planning permission, the council will ask your neighbours for their opinions so it's best to speak to them before making the application to iron out any problems well in advance of your application.
One last thing - if the construction work will require builders to have access to a neighbour's property, you'll need to ask them for permission. So now's a great time to do that, too.
Step 3: Think of your design
The external look of your property is something that will be carefully considered in your planning application. Aim to use similar materials to your original house and perhaps even that of your neighbour's home. Your local council may have advisory guides on this, so check them out to ensure your design will be up to scratch.
Step 4: Become one with nature
There's lots of legislation protecting plants, animals and habitats here in the UK, so you need to be sure that your extension won't clash with them or cause any damage to local nature and wildlife. One of the biggest ways this could affect you is if, for example, you're planning on cutting down an old tree to make room for your extension. Your local planning authority will be able to advise you on this, so contact them for advice before applying so that you can adjust your plans if necessary.
Step 5: Meet with a planning officer
It's always a great idea to chat to a local planning officer before you make an application. They'll be able to help you with any queries you may have, and verify the specific requirements that your local authority have. Sometimes there's a charge for this, but it's usually worth it for all the valuable advice you'll receive.
Step 6: Make the application!
You can apply for planning permission online at planningportal.co.uk, but it will cost you so be sure that your application is as perfect as it can possibly be (i.e. you've considered potential problems that could lead to rejection, and resolved them) to avoid having to spend money on repeat applications.
You MUST include:
● A site plan
● A location plan
● An ownership certificate
● Agricultural holdings certificate (yes, even if there are no agricultural buildings on site)
● Your fill application fee
● Any additional documents stipulated by your local planning authority.
Step 7: Sit back and wait
Luckily, planning permission applications are usually approved within 3 to 5 working days for small developments, and 10 working days for major applications, so no need to sit biting your nails for too long! Sometimes the local authority will ask for extra information, which you should aim to provide as quickly as possible.
If your application is denied, you can submit another free of charge within 12 months of the first application. If you wait longer, you'll need to pay full fees once again. However, if you do receive an approval then that's it - you can go ahead and get that new extension built!