Navigating the UK Planning Permission Process

Navigating the UK Planning Permission Process

Securing planning permission can be a daunting yet critical process for anyone looking to undertake construction or renovation work in the United Kingdom. Whether you’re building a new home, extending an existing property, or changing the use of land, obtaining planning permission is essential to ensure your project complies with local regulations. Here’s a step-by-step guide to understanding the stages of a planning permission application in the UK.

1.Pre-Application Research

Whilst we do sometimes suggest a pre-application enquiry be submitted before any draft plans are put together, generally by submitting some indication of what is proposed for the site by way of draft sketch drawings, a far fuller and more effective pre-application discussion can then take place.  We recommend a site meeting is paid for and attended by both the site or building owner and ourselves because we find that the written feedback received after a site meeting is less informative than the discussion held on site generally, but all councils work in a slightly different way so sometimes the written feedback is also very details and helpful. Many local planning authorities (LPAs) have detailed guidance on their websites regarding what types of development are permissible and under what conditions. Additionally, it’s crucial to consult the Local Plan, which sets out the development framework for the area over a specified period. Many LPA’s in Kent refer to the Kent Design Guide in respect to parking standards and general design standards. You can find out more about Kent’s planning policies here.

Before submitting a planning application, we suggest you should also communicate with neighbours and key stakeholders, as their support or objections could significantly affect the approval of your application. If a neighbour raises a concern that is a reasonable and the situation can be improved by a reasonable alteration to the proposal, then give that consideration and if the change sought can’t be made it’s worth explaining why and what can be done.

Unfortunately, we quite often hear that neighbours who have known each other for many years and have been friendly, fall out over someone alterations to their house or garden so consulting with neighbours is important.

2.Pre-Application Advice

Pre-application advice comes in many forms. For house extensions, many LPA’s will only provide written advice and in some cases the planning officer won’t visit the house to consider the proposal before giving this advice. In other cases, a site visit is held but the only advice is verbal on site. We suggest the client pays for a site visit and written response.

Pre-app responses may be negative depending on the proposal so be prepared to have a few options to discuss at the pre-app, but don’t expect the planning officer to consider multiple options unless you have submitted these different schemes when submitting the pre-application enquiry. Pre-app enquiries need to be paid for. Often they are submitted using a LPA’s pre-application forms so additional information needs to be prepared first and added when the form is sent in. Payment of the pre-app is normally required at the time of submission and often can only be paid by the person/agent submitting the form so the agent will then charge the pre-app cost to their client with VAT thereon. Many LPA’s publish the likely time frame for a pre-app to be responded to. This can be in excess of a month so build in enough time to allow for this. Some LPA’s especial London Authorities can charge high fees of £3000 or more for a pre-application meeting and response. It is always worthwhile to submit a pre-application enquiry unless your proposal is clearly going to be permitted development or is very minor in nature that it is not likely to be refused.

3.Submitting the Application

Once your plans are well-defined and you have considered all the feedback, you can officially submit your planning application. This can usually be done online through the Planning Portal, which is a centralized system for submitting applications in the UK.

Your application will typically include:

– Detailed drawings and plans

– A complete application form

– A location plan and site plan

– Supporting statements or reports, such as a Design and Access Statement

– The appropriate fee

Make sure your submission is comprehensive and addresses all relevant planning policies, as incomplete or insufficient applications can be rejected outright. Supporting reports are often required which might include a contaminated land desktop report with walkover, a noise report, an ecology report.

Be aware of the new bio-diversity requirements.

Navigating the UK Planning Permission Process
Navigating the UK Planning Permission Process

4.Validation and Public Consultation

After submission, the LPA will validate your application to ensure it meets all requirements. This validation process usually takes a few days but many take a few weeks in busy times. Once validated, your application is then subject to a public consultation period, usually lasting 21 days. During this time, neighbours, local stakeholders, and other interested parties can examine your plans and submit their comments or objections. The LPA may also consult with statutory consultees like highways authorities, environmental agencies, or conservation bodies.

5.Evaluation and Decision

Following the consultation period, a planning officer will evaluate your application. They will consider all the feedback and assess your plans against national and local planning policies. Sometimes, this assessment will involve site visits. Planning officers may also negotiate with you to make minor adjustments to your plans to address any concerns raised. The time frame for a decision is typically up to 8 weeks for standard applications or up to 13 weeks for larger or more complex projects. The decision will be issued as either a grant or a refusal of planning permission.

 6.Post-Decision Actions

If your application is approved, there may be conditions attached to the approval that you need to satisfy before starting your project. Read the decision notice carefully and comply with any conditions to avoid future complications.

If your application is refused, you have the right to appeal. The decision notice will usually outline the reasons for refusal, giving you grounds to address in your appeal or to revise and resubmit your application.


The planning permission application process in the UK is comprehensive and involves several key stages, from initial research to the decision and post-decision actions. By understanding each phase and preparing thoroughly, you can navigate the process more efficiently and increase the likelihood of securing planning permission for your project. Having a company involved who has taken many planning projects from concept to completion will be a huge advantage and, at Synergy, we have over 20 years of planning application experience. If you have a project that you feel would benefit from our experience, please contact us, call us on 01634 710 881 or email We have a wealth of experience in architecture and the planning application process and always seek to achieve a successful result. We try to advise our clients of changes which may affect their property holdings.