Explaining planning applications

The three main reasons why we having planning application procedures are:

1) to help protect our natural environment, 2) control the development of our built environment, and 3) to stop something immensely ugly or out of place being built where we’d rather it wasn’t. Unfortunately, no process is without its faults and for this reason the UK is not entirely free of architectural errors (that should have been stopped before a single brick was laid) and is undersupplied with architectural wonders (though many may have fallen at the first post, when Mrs Johnson at number 39 got a petition going because “it wasn’t in keeping with the feel of the village”). Local Governments work closely with communities to forge the national planning policy, while local authorities make up the Local Development Framework (LDF) in line with the guidelines available. LDFs are intended to help developments continue in a way that will benefit the local communities around them.

When you make a planning application, you will need to submit it to the planning department within your local authority and it will be assessed using the LDF. Neighbouring residents will be consulted and interdepartmental advice will be sought within the local authority before any decisions are made. There are three types of planning permission that you could be awarded. The first is Outline Planning Permission (OPP) where development is acceptable in principle, but you will need to gain further approval of a detailed application. The second type is “approval of reserved matters”, which is (in essence) a conversion of OPP by submitting additional information within a 3 year period (if this is not obtained OPP is otherwise valid for 5 years). Full Planning Permission is the third type you can be given and is usually given after detailed plans have been submitted, remaining valid for a 5 year period.

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While you (or someone in your employ) are in the process of producing designs, you should consult planning officers before the project progresses too far. Any issues that arise are likely to be pointed out during a consultation with planning officers, allowing you to make pre-emptive adjustments and speed up the permission granting process. Consultations with planning officers are likely to incur a fee, but considering the time that they can save you it is likely to be worth the expense. The paperwork/forms you will need should be obtained from your local planning department. When returning the application, it is vital that you make sure everything required is included with your paperwork (the completed form, the fee, existing site/building plans, proposed site/building plans, drawings for proposed work, material specifications, and proof you own the land in question or have notified the owner about the application).

In many cases, you will have to submit of the required application components in triplicate (excepting the fee). You should be sent a letter to validate your application a few days after you submit it. Once you have this, the planning department should be aiming to achieve a turnaround of eight weeks. Your application will be put onto the planning register, where anyone who is interested will be able to review it and make comments if they want to. Using the input given by the public, the planning officer (or planning team) will assess your application to see if it fits in with policy. If you are a landlord and thinking about renovating to increase your rental income, you need to make sure that you are making the right choice. Landlord insurance is vital for protecting your interests at all times, whether you need landlord contents insurance, landlords house insurance or renovation insurance.

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