You know that you need planning permission for your house or land and have decided you want to move forward with a planning application but want to learn more about how long it will actually take to get planning permission. This article answers questions surrounding the timescales involved in the planning process and what you might expect to happen after you apply for planning permission.
How long does a planning application take to be determined?
Planning Application Timescales:
The statutory period for determining a validated planning application depends on its size:
8 weeks – Householder and minor applications.
13 weeks – Large or more controversial developments
16 weeks – If the application is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
The majority of the time, extensions and home improvement projects will fall under the 8-week time frame.
The caveat here is that, while local planning authorities are supposed to stick to the target timescales above, if they are unable to process the application by the determination date, they are able to request an extension of time in writing from the applicant or agent (architect). This is not uncommon and can mean that an application can run over the statutory period. If it seems likely an extension of time will be required, it is vital to communicate clearly and frequently with the planning officer to ensure all required information is supplied for them to determine the application.
If you do not agree to the extension of time, there is an option to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on grounds of non-determination.
The planning process timline, shown above, is one small part of a construction project.
To understand the time scales involved for a whole project from inception to completion click here. [LINK]
In some cases, we would advise seeking pre-application advice from the local planning authority prior to submitting a full planning application. While this will increase the overall amount of time it will take to get planning permission, it can de-risk your planning application and give a better chance of success.
If you are still wondering whether you need planning permission for your extension in the first place, we wrote an article on the topic here, ‘Do I Need Planning Permission For My Extension? The Answer Might Be Simpler Than You Think’.
How long does it take for a planning application to be registered and validated?
Before the determination period begins, the local planning authority must validate your application. A valid application includes:
- All information requested on the standard application form.
- Mandatory drawings and information, including a location and site plan.
- Design and Access Statement (if required).
- Correct application fee.
The application should be validated as soon as is reasonably practicable. Usually most minor and small-scale planning applications should be validated within 3-5 working days but this can vary between local authorities depending on how busy they are. If all of the supplied information is correct, a formal validation notice will be sent to you identifying the expected determination date. Following validation, an application will often be ‘back-dated’ to the date it was submitted and the application fee was paid.
If the information supplied does not meet the local authority’s criteria or there is something missing, they will deem the application invalid and ask for additional information. Re-submitting will then start the clock ticking again and will cause delays to your application.
What is the consultation period?
Following receipt of the validation notice, a formal 21-day consultation period will begin. This consultation is included within the 8-week determination period. In this time, the local planning authority will publicise the proposal in various places including its website, local newspapers, site notices pinned to nearby lampposts and letters to neighbours. The extent of this publicity will depend on the scale and public importance of the application.
If required, statutory consultees will be consulted during this period. This may include a local Parish council, neighbourhood associations, the Environment Agency, Highways England, Historic England etc
Members of the public may comment on a planning application during this period via the local authority planning portal website. However,. only relevant and ‘material’ considerations will be taken in to account by the planning officer when determining the application.
How do planning officers assess a planning application?
During the running of the application the planning officer will usually undertake a site visit to better understand the proposals and surrounding context. If a site is easily visible or accessible from a public area the planning officer may visit without notifying the applicant or agent. As the architect, we would always organise a suitable time to meet the planning officer on site to ensure all relevant issues are covered and that proposals are fully understood. Ideally, this happens around the half way mark to give the planning officer enough time should they have any queries or concerns (in reality this can happen a week to 1 day before determination).
Designs will then be assessed by the planning officer against national and local planning policy. Any other material considerations would also be taken into account and a decision will be made.
How can I speed up the planning process?
Other than the extremely rare occasion where an application is determined before it’s designated determination date, there is no way to get your planning approval more quickly than the process outlined above. However, there are a number of ways to avoid the determination of your application being delayed.
Here are a few of our tips to ensure your application is validated and increase the chances it is determined within the target 8 week timeframe:
- Check what is required for validation and ensure all supporting documents contain the requisite information. For example, a common mistake we see are drawings that do not include a ‘North Arrow’ or ‘Scale Bar’. A small detail but one that can cost weeks.
- Consult your neighbours before submitting the application. Often sitting down and explaining your intensions for your application can allay any concerns and prevent objections during the running of the application.
- Ensure your application is validated. Local authorities are bureaucratic and slow-moving organisations, applications can sometimes get stuck in the system. Give them a call in the first week to ensure they have all the required information for validation.
- Keep in regular contact with the planning case officer. Opening a line of communication with the case officer (usually via email) is the best way of ensuring any concerns or issues they may have are discovered early on and leaves plenty of time to respond to them. We normally reach out at the end of the consultation period, about 4 weeks in to the process, to try and gauge their position and find out if there are any objections or other issues we should be aware of and can then respond to.
- Ensure you understand if any additional surveys are required to support your application and that these are completed in time or ideally before the application is submitted. Some surveys such as ecological surveys, can only be completed at particular times of the year when for instance, bats are no longer in hibernation (typically required for barn conversions). In some cases, getting the timing wrong on commissioning a survey can mean waiting another 6 months before your application can be validated or determined.
- Seek pre-application advice. This is not always necessary and will extend the time frame before a planning application can be submitted. However, for particularly ambitious, contentious or sensitive applications it will give you an indication of the local planning authority’s position and allow you to address any design issues prior to submitting the application. Pre-application advice will also confirm exactly what additional supporting information is required.
- Choose the right team. Ultimately a team of experienced professionals will pre-empt many of these issues, managing and monitoring the application, and will give you the best chance of speed and success.
You may also be interested on our guide on how much planning permission can cost here.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the statutory expiry date for a planning application?
This is the date given by the local authority that marks the time by which your planning application will either be approved or refused. The statutory expiry date is 8 weeks from validation (for minor and small-scale applications) and will be noted on your validation notice. Read our thorough guide on planning permission expiration here.
Can I alter the design after submitting in order to satisfy planning requirements or objections that arise?
There is often the opportunity to respond to case officer objections and make small design changes during the running of the application. However, this is at the case officer’s discretion and cannot be assumed. Early and regular communication with the case officer will give the best chance for this.
Do neighbours have to be notified of planning applications?
During the 21-day consultation period a planning application will be publicised, most commonly via notices on nearby lampposts. Neighbours impacted by a planning application will often also be notified by the local planning authority in writing. If you are submitting a planning application it is best to speak to your neighbours and clarify your plans to minimise negative comments later on.
How long does a planning application notice have to be displayed?
Planning application notices must be displayed for the duration of the 21-day consultation period. If any significant changes to the design are made during the running of the application, the application may be required to be publicised again and the 21-day consultation period will also start again.