8. Making a Planning Application

Planning Application fundamentals

• Planning Applications are the way that local people through their elected representatives can control their built environment. Different villages, towns and cities value their environments in different ways. Ancient cities like York guard their historic building fabric jealously while new towns such as Milton Keynes are more open to new building ideas. 

• Decisions for minor applications such as individual houses are usually made by the senior planning officer.

• On some occasions, though, usually because of the importance of the site, the application will go before the Local Authority Planning Committee. The committee comprises of local councillors who are appointed to sit on the committee and consider applications.

• Most of the time the Planning Officer’s direction will be heeded by the Planning Committee - but not always. Sometimes local politics will intervene as your application becomes a kind of political hot potato. It rarely happens with a self-build one-off house, but its not unknown.

• Planning applications have to be decided in line with the relevant local planning authority’s (LPA) development plan, unless there is a very good reason not to do so.

• When deciding whether a planning application is in line with its Development Plan, the planners will consider the following:


Types of Application

Outline Planning Application

  • The huge advantage of getting an Outline Planning Permission is that it will probably unlock your source of funding, so putting time and effort into it will likely serve you well.
  • ‘An application for Outline Planning Permission allows for a decision on the general principles of how a site can be developed. Outline Planning Permission is granted subject to conditions requiring the subsequent approval of one or more ‘Reserved Matters’.
  • Reserved Matters are a way of making an easy and quick transition from ‘Outline’ to ‘Full’ permissions - so long as you do it within 3 years of Outline Permission being given. Along with the Outline Permission, the planners will typically list a number of items which have to be approved before Full Permission is given. These might include such things as materials, vehicle access to the plot, landscaping and scale (the height, width and length of the building. You don’t have to submit your reserved matters solutions all at the same time.

Full Planning Application

  • ‘An application for full planning permission results in a decision on the detailed proposals of how a site can be developed. If planning permission is granted, and subject to compliance with any planning conditions that are imposed, no further engagement with the local planning authority is required to proceed with the development granted permission, although other consents may be required.’
  • Pre-Application Advice is an informal chat with one of the planners who will be dealing with your Planning Application. You need to contact the Planning Department to arrange this.
  • Not obligatory, but we’d highly recommend.
  • Some cash-strapped Local Authorities charge for these consultations.
  • Gives you the opportunity to talk about what you want to do - and get feedback from the planners who will consider your application
  • The planner will give you a realistic assessment of whether you will have a reasonable chance of getting permission.
  • Its usual for your architect to talk to the planners in the first instance, but you can go yourself or with your architect for some direct feedback.
  • Make sure you take along drawings so you have something to talk about and essentially something for the planner to react to.
  • Its a good opportunity to talk about things that will affect your proposals e.g. roads, footpaths, power cables, watercourses, sewers and telephone lines. Take notes.
  • The LA might be looking to impose conditions on your proposals, now is a good time to find out what they might be.
  • The material you submit to the Local Authority as your application is pretty standard.
  • Though not overly demanding for a single house, you must ensure that you provide everything that’s required. If not, it will be sent back to you. Remember that the Application will only proceed once your documents are in order and date stamped by the planners. Once you have got everything together, check and double-check.


  • The minimum submission is a location plan with the plot outlined in red. These can be obtained from www.planningportal.co.uk/homepage/4/buy_a_plan
  • Other drawings will be almost certainly be required. Check with the planners what you will need to produce. Other information about drawings required will likely be found on you Local Authority web site.

Ownership Certificate

  • You have to demonstrate who owns the site. This might be you as the applicant where you’ve already bought the plot, or more likely, the existing owners. The Ownership Certificate form needs completing and, if you don’t own the site, the current owner is served with a notice that you’re putting in a Planning Application. More details are on the form.

Design and Access Statement

  • Depending on where your plot is located, the planners might require an Design and Access Statement.
  • This a report that you will be asked to provide that explains how your proposal is a ‘suitable response to the site and its setting’.
  • The purpose of it is to explain to the planners and the Planning Committee before whom your plans will be presented, what the thinking is behind the particular design of your house. As a Green Self-Builder, you will be keen to point out the sustainable and low-environmental impact aspects of your proposals.
  • It’s by no means essential, but if you have already nominated an architect, they will be well-versed in both the language and concepts of Access and Design Statements.

Information specifically for an Outline Application

  • You will need to provide details of the proposed use. In your case it will be ‘Residential’.
  • You must show where the access points to your development will be from the main road.


  • Your submission will need be accompanied by the designated fee for consideration of a Planning Application.
  • The fee for an Outline Application for a site of an area up to 2.5 hectares is £385 per 0.1 hectare. Hence if e.g. your site is 0.4 hectares in area, you will be providing a fee of 4 x £385 = £1540
  • The fee for a Full Application for a new house will be £339
  • Once your application has been validated (date-stamped to confirm everything is present and correct) the planning process commences.
  • The application will be given a reference number. This is an essential way of everyone being able to keep track of it.
  • Your application will be publicised to let everyone know what is going on with the site. You might be familiar with those yellow notices that appear on lampposts, but also notices might be posted in the press or sent to neighbours. Notices give people who have an interest in the site as much opportunity as possible to provide an opinion.
  • Comments received from the public will be logged and assessed for relevance by the planners. Comments received might result in the planning officer making recommendations to alter the application.
  • A report on the application containing comments will be submitted either to the Planning Committee or the Senior Planner (who will be given powers to decide your application) for a yes or no decision.
  • Most planning applications are decided within 8 weeks. For a single house it will be very unusual to go beyond this time.
  • The Local Authority (LA) will notify you of a grant or refusal of planning permission by letter.
  • A Refusal will have the reasons for refusal attached.
  • If you are unhappy with the reasons, talk to the planning officer assigned to your case for informal feedback.
  • Feedback will help you decide your next move.
  • If, on reflection, you feel the reasons for refusal reasonable, you can submit another application with modified plans within 12 months of the initial decision. No fee will be charged
  • If you object to the reasons provided with the refusal, you are entitled to appeal to the Secretary of State.
  • Appeals are quite a big deal. They can be lengthy and expensive, so a decision to appeal should not be taken lightly - so do try to resolve issues with the planners before going down this route.
  • If you are set on appealing, you must do so within 6 months of receiving your decision letter.
  • Its worth saying that only 1 in 3 appeals succeed.