Planning FAQs

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Here are the answers to all those questions about planning that you were afraid to ask.

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Planning permission is usually required when building something new, making a major change to a building, such as an extension, or when changing the use of a building. It isn’t all about buildings though – other activities such as demolition, engineering works and changing the use of a piece of land can also need planning permission. If you are unsure whether or not you require planning permission please don’t hesitate to contact NJL Consulting for advice.
There are a number of different types of planning permission, the most common are as follows:
• Outline Planning Permission is used to determine the principle of the development, with the exact details of the scheme being decided at a later date as part of a Reserved Matters application.
• Full Planning Permission is when all the details of a scheme are decided within one application.
• Advertisement permission is sought when signs or adverts are to be constructed and are usually limited to a set timeframe for their display.
Appeals for England and Wales are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate. Appeals can be made against the refusal of a planning application or if the Council doesn’t determine the application in the agreed timescale (called an appeal for ‘non-determination’). Only the applicant can appeal against the refusal or non-determination of a planning application. Once an appeal is lodged with the Planning Inspectorate control of the application is removed from the Council.
Appeals can be made against the refusal of a planning application within 6 months from the date on the decision notice. Appeals against the failure of the Council to determine the application can be made within 6 months of the date on which the Council should have determined the application (8 weeks for planning applications and 13 weeks for major planning applications).
Planning appeals can follow three different procedures: written representations; a hearing; or an inquiry. For written representations, both the appellant and the Council provide their comments and views on the appeal in written form and no discussions take place; this process is usually used for the simplest appeals. Hearings involve a round table discussion between the two parties led by the Inspector. Inquiries are the most formal of the procedures and involve formal discussions between the parties and will include expert witnesses being called to comment on the appeal and cross examination. These can last for any number of days, depending upon the complexity of the issues involved.
Greenfield sites are sites which have not previously been developed on. However they are not given any special level of protection in national policy over and above brownfield sites. Greenfield sites are often fields or areas of open countryside, which may be in agricultural use or areas which form part of the countryside. Local councils are allowed to protect greenfields from development, but only if they can accommodate the development they need on other sites in their area.
Green Belts are identified by local councils around large urban areas with the aim of protecting this land is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping the land permanently open. National policy says that the Green Belt serves five purposes:
• to prevent the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas
• to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another
• to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment
• to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns
• and to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.
Development is not normally allowed in the Green Belt except for a tightly defined number of exceptions (for things like engineering operations or the redevelopment of existing buildings) or in ‘very special circumstances.’
A Green Belt site has to be identified as such by the Council. It is afforded a greater degree of protection from development because of the important role it serves in preventing settlements from merging. Not all greenfield sites are Green Belt however. While they may be important to local residents, they don’t perform an important strategic role like Green Belt.
Brownfield sites are sites which have previously been developed and may still contain some evidence of previous development. They are often referred to as ‘Previously Developed Land’ or ‘PDL’. Some types of buildings, like agricultural ones, are excluded from the definition though.
All planning permissions have planning conditions attached to them. These conditions will be listed on the decision notice and the development can only go ahead if the stated conditions are met. Conditions may require that the development is built-out in accordance with approved plans, within a specific timescale and may identify specific additional information to be provided to and agreed with the Council prior to a development starting. Conditions often fall within three categories: pre-commencement, to be addressed prior to work starting on site; pre-occupation, which are to be addressed prior to the buildings on site being occupied; and informative conditions, which do not require a specific action, but must be adhered to.
Planning conditions which require formal discharge are done so through the submission of the relevant information, as required by the condition, to the local planning authority (‘LPA’) as part of a discharge of condition application. This application is then approved or refused by the LPA.
Planning consent must be implemented within three years from the date it was granted, unless the planning permission states otherwise. Once all pre-commencement conditions on a planning permission have been discharged, the planning permission may be implemented. This is done through carrying out a ‘material operation.’ These include: any construction work as part of the erection or demolition of a building; the digging of a trench to contain foundations, or part of the foundations; the laying of any underground main or pipe to the foundations or part of the foundations; or any operation relating to the laying out or constructing of a road or part of a road.
The National Planning Policy Framework, often referred to as the NPPF or the Framework, contains national planning policies. It sets out things like: how Councils can go about setting their own, local, policies; what these local policies can and can’t cover; and how Councils should go about making decisions on individual applications. Unlike previous national policy, it is deliberately short and easy to read to try to make sure that people other than planners can understand it.
There is currently no legislation which states that members of the public or local residents must be consulted by the developer prior to the submission of a planning application. However, it is considered good practice to do so, especially for larger schemes, as it can help identify and resolve problems before they arise. Following the submission of an application the Council will consult local residents and landowners on the proposed scheme and invite them to make comments.
Most planning applications are supposed to be decided within eight weeks. However, large and complex planning applications can take up to 13 weeks to determine. In many cases, the applicant and the Council will agree a longer time period, however, to allow sufficient time for all the details of the application to be agreed.
The Sedgefield Approach is one method of dealing with a shortfall in housing within a Borough. It looks to ‘front load’ any shortfall in the number of homes delivered to that point, to try to catch up within five years. It is the approach most often supported at planning appeals, and is reflected in the new National Planning Practice Guidance.
The Liverpool Approach is one method of dealing with a shortfall in housing within a Borough. It looks to spread any shortfall in the number of homes delivered to that point across what is left of the plan period. It is not usually supported at planning appeals as it means that homes that should already have been built might not be built for another ten or fifteen years.
In England, a Development Plan is a set of documents that set out the Local Authority’s policies and proposals for the development and use of land in a particular area. The Development Plan guides and informs decision making on all aspects of the planning process enabling Local Authorities to make informed decisions on issues such as planning applications and where to locate new housing or employment sites.

Planning law requires that applications for planning permission are determined in accordance with the Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

Each Development Plan will vary considerably from Local Authority to Local Authority but normally consists of:
• the National Planning Policy Framework.
• newly adopted Local Plans, Core Strategies or Site Allocation Plans.
• policies from out-of-date Local Plans where the government has allowed them to be 'saved' until a new plan is put in place.
• supporting documents such as Supplementary Planning Documents and Area Action Plans.

These documents should all be consistent with each other and come into force following a formal consultation process which might include a public inquiry.

The NPPF which was introduced in March 2012 requires all Local Authorities to have an up to date Local Plan.
The fee associated with a planning application depends on the type and scale of the development.

In England, for a typical householder application the cost is £172 whilst in Wales, this is £166. The Planning Portal Website has useful tools to calculate planning application fees.

To calculate the fee for an application in England, click here.

To calculate the fee for an application in Wales, click here.
There are two sorts of documents that need to be submitted with a planning application. There are 'mandatory' documents which must be submitted with every application and include an application form, location plan, and a Design and Access Statement.

The second type of documents are those that a Local Authority requests based on its own local list of requirements. Local lists are more detailed and often include documents such as Heritage Statements, Crime Impact Statements and Noise Assessments.

The number and type of documents that you need to submit can vary considerably depending on the type and size of your application. If you want help working out exactly what you need, then get in touch!

Do you have a question? Contact us today.