WHAT IS PLANNING PERMISSION?
formal permission from a local authority for the erection or alteration of buildings or similar development
THE PLANNING SYSTEM IN ENGLAND
The planning system in England is made up (broadly) of two key functions at the local level:
- Development Management and Control: where a local authority receives, processes, and determines planning applications (i.e. grants or refuses planning permission) and carries out related tasks such as enforcement (i.e. taking action to control unauthorised development);
- Planning Policy / Plan-making: where a local authority prepares a Local Plan setting out policies and allocating sites to guide new development. Parish or town councils or neighbourhood forums prepare Neighbourhood Plans. A strategic authority or group of authorities prepares Spatial Development Strategies or Joint Strategic Plans.
Links shown above will take you to our guides on planning policy and plan-making in England.
THE NEED FOR PLANNING PERMISSION AND A PLANNING APPLICATION
When a person or organisation wants to undertake a ‘development’ – e.g. constructing a building or changing the use of a building or land, planning permission is required, and other consents may also be needed (e.g. Listed Building Consent for works affecting the fabric of a listed building).
The first thing to do if you have a project in mind is to establish whether planning permission is required by confirming whether the works or proposed change of use amount to ‘development’ for the purposes of planning.
The next step is to then determine whether a planning application is needed.
1. DOES THE PROJECT FALL WITHIN THE PLANNING DEFINITION OF ‘DEVELOPMENT’?
2. IF YES, IS A PLANNING APPLICATION NEEDED?
There are instances where planning applications are not needed for development, e.g.
- Where a Local Development Order has been made, except where European protected sites would be at risk of significant effects; and
- Where proposals are Permitted Development (such as building a conservatory, erecting a fence ). We have an extensive guide to permitted development rights and the rules that apply to each type of project.
PERMITTED DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS
Some forms of minor development are automatically granted approval by virtue of being ‘Permitted Development’. For all other types of development, if it proceeds without permission, it will be unlawful and may be at risk of enforcement action.
Depending on the type of development you wish to carry out, you may need prior approval from the local authority even under PD rights, and you will also need to abide by all other non-planning legislation and requirements as applicable – e.g. building regulations.
In places such as Conservation Areas, or National Parks, permitted development rights are restricted.
If development is not exempted by permitted development rights or an LDO, a planning application will need to be made to the Local Planning Authority.
Our planning application pages explain the process and what to consider when preparing a planning application and a guide to getting planning permission from your local authority.
It is the responsibility of those undertaking development to determine whether planning permission is required. The general advice is to always discuss proposals with the Local Planning Authority or a qualified, professional planning consultant before starting work.
An application for a Certificate of Lawfulness may be relevant if legal confirmation as to whether or not a development will be (or is) lawful is required.
Planning permission is either granted or refused following the submission of a planning application to a Local Planning Authority taking account of planning policy and any other material considerations.
See the links below for more information about planning applications, the decision making process, how to object to an application or how to appeal a decision. We have an extensive library that explains the whole process.
TownPlanning.info has an extensive catalogue of articles and guides which help explain the town planning system in England.
See below for links to some of our most popular pages or use the search function and menus at the top of the page.