Almshouses in Taunton Somerset - providing planning answers for listed buildings owners
Answers to some common planning queries

Planning and Development FAQs

The legislation around planning regulations in the UK can be complex and may vary depending on your Local Planning Authority. After more than 10 years of experience in planning across England, particulary in the South West, we have put together some useful FAQs that explain some of the more common questions around planning matters.

As Planning Consultants, one of the most commonly asked questions we hear is; ‘Do I need planning permission?’ The answer is never completely straight forward, but here is a simple guide with examples of when you will most likely require planning permission.

Permission for some projects is granted by the General Permitted Development Order. Such proposals include extensions and domestic outbuildings, but this will depend on size, position and location, so do check.

Even if your project is considered Permitted Development, you may be well advised to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate to confirm the lawfulness of the development and that planning permission is not required.

Planning permission will most likely be required if you want to:

• build something new
• build an extension or make a major change to your property
• make a change the use of your building, for example from commercial to residential

Whiteacre Planning work closely with local planning authorities to help you establish if planning is required and then ultimately to gain you approval for your proposed development. If you would like to discuss your development plans to find out if you will require planning permission, please contact us for an initial consultation.

There are various options following a refusal of planning permission, one of which is lodging an appeal. It may, however, be worth exploring other avenues as it may be possible to find ways of overcoming the reasons for refusal.

If you are in this position and looking to appeal against a planning decision, do contact us to discuss your case.

A local planning authority (LPA) is the local government body within the local council that is responsible by law to exercise urban planning functions for their particular area. If you are looking to carry out a development to your property you will need to submit a planning application to the LPA. Or if it’s permitted development, then we highly recommend applying for a Permitted Development Certificate.

In some cases, it may be useful to engage with the Council early on, before submitting a planning application. This early engagement can save time and money and provide the opportunity to work with the LPA in drawing up a scheme. Whiteacre Planning offer Pre-application advice and assessments. Please contact us to ensure your development project starts off on the right foot. 

Whiteacre Planning can help you to understand if your project is within Permitted Development and assist in applying for a Permitted Development Certificate. Or, if you development requires you to submit a planning application, we can advise and ensure your application is supported with all the necessary documentation and that you achieve the best and fastest outcome for your planning application. Contact us to discuss your development project for advice and support.

Development that results in a new dwelling or more than 100 square metres of residential floorspace is liable for Community Infrastructure Levy. This is charged by the square metre and is different in different areas and for different Councils.

There are circumstances in which you may be exempt – for instance if you are a self-builder. Do be careful, though, as you have to apply for exemption and will still be liable if you do not complete the proper forms.

Contact us to discuss your development project for professional guidance and advice on CILs.

The short answer is possibly, but it is complicated. If you have an agricultural building that was in agricultural use on 20 March 2013 and is considered structurally capable of conversion to a dwelling with a minimum of structural work, it may be possible to apply for Prior Approval under Class Q of the General Permitted Development Order.

If this is something you would like to explore, please give us a ring or contact us.

Once planning permission has been granted, there may be a number of conditions attached. These may require additional plans or other details to be agreed with the Council or additional surveys might be needed. Some conditions control future use or occupation.

Certain conditions need to be formally discharged before any work can be undertaken. This requires a Discharge of Conditions application. It is vital that conditions are not agreed to lightly and that they are properly discharged. Failure to discharge or comply with conditions may mean that you are in breach of the permission and may be open to enforcement action.

If you need help with discharging conditions of your development project, please contact us for guidance.

In certain circumstances, it may be advisable to apply for confirmation from the Council that development or land use is lawful. A certificate may be applied for by submitting evidence to the Local Planning Authority.

Common Lawful Development Certificate applications include:

• Existing use of agricultural land as residential garden (after 10 years)
• Erection of a single storey extension (confirmation that extension erected under the provisions of the GPDO and that planning permission is not required)
• Stationing of a log cabin or shepherd hut in residential garden to provide overspill accommodation (where the unit complies with the legal definition of a caravan)

If you need help applying for a LDC, please contact us for guidance.

So – you have decided to build your own home, but where do you start looking for a building plot? There are various different options:

• Replacement dwelling – find a site with an existing house and replace it
• Building plot with planning permission
• Land without planning permission – this might be part of a garden, a brownfield site or agricultural land

Whatever you decide, obtaining planning advice is a wise investment. For example, a site appraisal is a really affordable way of understanding the development potential of a plot.

If you need help applying for a LDC, please contact us for guidance.

Planning permission costs and consultancy fees explained.

The nature and complexity of the services that we offer varies wildly, so it is very difficult to issue a price list. However, we will always provide a detailed written fee estimate upon request following an initial enquiry.

Where possible we operate on a fixed fee basis in order to give clients more certainty. Where this is not possible the estimate will be calculated in line with our hourly rate up to a maximum number of hours. If it looks likely that any additional work is required, you would be contacted in writing before any further work is undertaken.

Other costs include planning fees and other specialists’ fees such as architects, ecologists or lawyers. Where the services of other specialists are required, we can obtain fee estimates and liaise. The client shall have full responsibility for the instruction of such services and payment of any fees, expenses or charges that are incurred.

To give you some idea of consultancy costs, the following prices are typical:

Planning appraisal – from £450
Householder application – from £850
Lawful Development Certificate – from £1,250

An initial planning consultation can help clear up a lot of questions and give you a better understanding of the feasibility of your project and likely costs you may need to consider. To talk to us about your development plans, please get in touch to speak to our experienced planning consultants.