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Planning & Architecture
The formal pre-application planning process involves engaging in a constructive dialogue with the Local Planning Authority regarding your project. Upon the submission of drawings, sketches, and relevant information provided by us, the Council offers their input, both orally and in writing, regarding their perspective on your project and how it aligns with their policies. The Council’s written report may indicate potential approval of your project, but it often highlights specific aspects that could lead to a refusal.
We frequently recommend seeking formal, paid-for pre-application advice, primarily when the outcome of a planning application remains uncertain. This uncertainty may arise from complex policies affecting your proposal, such as constraints on converting houses into flats, or due to issues that carry political significance, such as those related to employment or transportation.
It’s important to note that the outcomes of formal pre-applications can vary significantly from one Council to another. While formal pre-application advice doesn’t offer a definitive approval, it does provide a strong indication. However, please be aware that the advice may not cover all aspects, and the process may take a considerable amount of time. Additionally, some advice may tend to be overly negative or lack complete impartiality. If you desire a ‘second opinion’ on any pre-application advice you’ve received, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
It’s crucial to understand that the pre-application process doesn’t grant planning approval and, in some cases, may not offer the best value for your investment. Nevertheless, the pre-application process is encouraged at the government level because it serves as a means for planners and developers to collaborate proactively, striving for optimal results in the final development.
Certainly, your local Council possesses extensive authority when it comes to addressing breaches of planning control, and the consequences for such breaches can be quite severe. Penalties may encompass measures like the requirement to demolish unauthorized structures or even the repayment of rental income or other financial penalties to the Council. Operating or constructing something without the necessary planning permission commonly leads to planning enforcement actions. One prevalent trigger for enforcement actions, particularly in London, is the unauthorized division of a single house into two or more flats. If you have concerns regarding your property, we encourage you to reach out to us, and one of our experienced planners can confidentially review your case.
In many instances, the first indication of impending enforcement action is a visit from planning officers, which may occur unexpectedly and might be prompted by allegations or complaints made through the Council’s official channels. If you receive such a visit, along with letters or cards from officers, it is essential to take prompt action by seeking guidance from an independent planning consultant accredited by the MRTPI (Royal Town Planning Institute). If such a visit occurs, we strongly recommend documenting all details, including the officers’ names and roles, as well as visit dates. Delaying or avoiding a response is unwise.
The Council typically maintains an Enforcement team responsible for issuing a Planning Contravention Notice (PCN). In essence, the PCN seeks confirmation of property ownership, but we advise against providing any additional information until you’ve sought professional advice. If the Council believes they have sufficient evidence, they may subsequently issue an Enforcement Notice (EN), although there could be a considerable delay before they do so.
If you suspect that enforcement action might be looming, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can offer advice on the available options, including the potential consequences of taking no action. Rest assured that your inquiry will be handled with the utmost confidentiality.
It’s worth noting that Enforcement Notices can typically be appealed, and doing so is often in your best interest. This is a service that Lyondale Planning Ltd specializes in, backed by our substantial experience in handling such cases.
In the United Kingdom, the development and construction sectors are subject to government legislation, with Local Authorities generally responsible for ensuring compliance. The planning process is primarily a matter of “policy” rather than rigid “rules,” and this implies that individual Councils, each equipped with its unique policy framework, wield substantial influence over the actual development that occurs within their respective boroughs. In contrast, building regulations are consistently applied across most of the UK and are typically administered by Local Authorities. Additionally, Local Authorities may grant authorization to private consultants, often referred to as “Approved Inspectors,” to inspect building work and issue compliance certificates.
It’s crucial to understand that planning applications and applications related to building regulations are distinct processes. Both require prior approval before commencing construction work. In rare cases, retrospective approval may be sought, although this is not advisable due to the substantial risks it entails for developers.
Planning policies and guidance primarily aim to regulate and manage development, leading to various restrictions on land and building usage. Planning also governs aspects such as aesthetics, landscaping, traffic flow for vehicles and pedestrians, and overall environmental impacts.
Building Regulations, on the other hand, establish standards for health and safety concerning the design and construction of buildings. It’s important to note that additional areas of legislation may be pertinent to your specific building project. These may include considerations related to Means of Escape, Disability Discrimination, The Party Wall Act, The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM15), and approval requirements from entities like Thames Water or other infrastructure providers. If you have questions or require guidance regarding the potential impact of any of these aspects on your project, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com.
Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), typically your local Council, are legally mandated to complete the determination process within 8 weeks from the date of validation for most common types of planning applications, including ‘Householder’ applications. There are various application types, such as advertisement applications and ‘major’ applications, each governed by different government-set timeframes. In cases where planning committees decide the outcome, there might be additional delays to align with Council agendas.
In practice, the majority of applications are indeed considered within the statutory timeframe. However, it’s worth noting that while the government provides statistics to monitor the performance of each LPA, there are occasions when these timeframes are not met. If you encounter a delay beyond the statutory period, please reach out to us, and we can provide guidance, including your right to appeal for ‘non-determination.’ Our experience suggests that, in many cases, it is more advantageous to negotiate an extension of time rather than hastily initiating an appeal process.
It’s essential to recognize that the 8-week period represents only one segment of the overall planning process. If you opt for a formal pre-application, there may be several weeks before your application is formally submitted. Most Councils have a ‘service standard’ for pre-application, but it is frequently not met, and there is typically no legal recourse in such instances.
Furthermore, Councils implement a validity process to assess applications against local and national validity requirements, which include checking for completeness and accuracy. This validity process typically takes 3 to 10 working days. Unfortunately, we often witness Councils rejecting applications on a routine basis, citing minor discrepancies or omissions, or sometimes failing to acknowledge that the Council fee has been paid. While this can be frustrating for applicants, the validity process can occasionally extend beyond 2 weeks.
The determination of your planning application typically falls under the jurisdiction of your Local Planning Authority (LPA), which is typically your local Council. The specific decision-making process is contingent upon the application type, its level of complexity, the presence of political sensitivities, and any objections raised by interested parties. Consequently, your application may ultimately be decided through either ‘delegated powers’ (i.e., by planning officers), by a Council committee, or by the Planning Inspectorate in the event of an appeal.
How is the decision made?
The decision-making process involves a thorough evaluation of the ‘material considerations’ pertinent to the application. These considerations can either be favorable, supporting the application, or unfavorable, potentially leading to a rejection. Prior to submitting your application, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) can provide a preliminary appraisal upon request. In this appraisal, we outline the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ associated with your proposal to help you gain a clearer understanding of its strengths and weaknesses.
What are the material considerations?
Planning in the UK is predominantly shaped by policy rather than rigid rules. While policy originates from the government, including the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), the policies that have the most significant impact on smaller applications often stem from your Council’s Local Plan or other framework documents. These policies make up a substantial portion of the ‘material considerations.’ However, given the intricate and distinct nature of policies influencing specific applications, many applications present challenges in terms of predictability.
It’s worth noting that approximately 80% of applications receive approval. Lyondale Planning Ltd can help you identify the material considerations and assess the ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’ This assessment provides a valuable indication of the likelihood of success for your application.
If your planning application gets refused, you usually have 3 options worth considering:
- Do nothing
In many instances, pursuing an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate is a worthwhile course of action. This government department, headquartered in Bristol, handles all appeals in England and operates independently from your Local Planning Authority. Surprisingly, less than 20% of planning refusals result in appeals, possibly due to concerns about associated costs. Therefore, we encourage you to reach out to us, and we can provide guidance on both the expenses and advantages of pursuing an appeal. If your planning application involves a Householder development, such as a loft conversion or extension, you have a 12-week window from the date of the decision to initiate an appeal. In most other cases, you have up to 6 months to do so.
A re-application often presents an attractive option since there may be modifications you can implement in your proposal to align it with the Council’s requirements. As a starting point, we recommend obtaining the officer’s report and assessing the extent of the planners’ concerns. We can facilitate this process and provide expert advice on the necessary adjustments to maximize your chances of obtaining approval.
In certain scenarios, it might be beneficial to adopt a ‘twin-track’ approach, which entails both an appeal and a re-application. Alternatively, a formal pre-application process might be recommended. If the prospects of securing planning approval appear grim, we are committed to offering candid and impartial advice. Our experience includes successfully navigating planning refusals through appeals and reapplications, so we invite you to contact us at 0800 677 1999 or reach out to us for further assistance.
The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) advises that the benefits of employing a Chartered Town Planner are:
- Delivering precise, unbiased, and cost-efficient professional planning guidance to facilitate a streamlined progression of their clients’ planning applications through the frequently intricate and costly planning process.
- Presenting an innovative and impartial perspective in resolving intricate planning challenges.
- Fostering effective relationships with the Local Planning Authority, the community, and all parties impacted by their clients’ planning applications.
- Maintaining professional indemnity insurance to safeguard both themselves and their clients.
- Facilitating direct engagement with Barristers, eliminating the need for clients to involve a solicitor as an intermediary.
Councils frequently require specialized reports to present evidence related to issues that impact a planning application, such as those concerning trees or transportation matters. The specific types of supporting information required are typically outlined in the planning ‘validity lists’ maintained by the Councils. If the expertise of a specialist is necessary, you have the discretion to appoint them. However, we are more than willing to provide you with contact details for professional experts with whom we have previously collaborated.
In strict accordance with our rigorous standards of professional ethics, we do not accept any type of remuneration from other consultants or contractors. It’s crucial to emphasize that the Local Planning Authority (LPA) does not have a direct role in appointing specialists. Consequently, as the client, you assume the responsibility for the fees associated with engaging these specialists.
We uphold an extensive network of seasoned specialists, comprising experts well-versed in handling pivotal planning challenges, and we are fully prepared to provide our expertise in this domain.
- Structural Engineers
- Arboricultural Consultants
- Flood Risk assessment consultants
- Daylight consultants
- Topographical Surveyors
- Acoustic Consultants
- Highways and Transportation Consultants
- Planning Lawyers and Barristers
- Party Wall Surveyors
- Landscape Consultants
- Archaeological Consultants
Should you require guidance on whether the involvement of a specialist is necessary at any stage, do not hesitate to inquire with us. Typically, within the bounds of our agreed service scope and fixed fee, we include provisions for aiding in these appointments and facilitating effective communication with specialists to enhance and streamline your planning process.
While it’s essential to understand that no planning consultant or any other agent can provide an absolute guarantee of obtaining planning approval, the Local Planning Authority (LPA) can furnish an impartial and professional evaluation of your application. We can identify the ‘material’ considerations and present them in straightforward terms, outlining both the ‘pros’ and ‘cons.’ This assessment offers a valuable insight into the likely outcome of your application.
To enhance the prospects of achieving your desired result, we may recommend specific actions, such as engaging in a formal pre-application process. This process allows for a constructive dialogue with planners to clarify their areas of support, non-support, and potential considerations. Councils typically welcome and endorse pre-applications, signifying your willingness as an applicant to collaborate with them in shaping a mutually agreeable proposal. They may even propose design adjustments that could increase the likelihood of a subsequent Full Planning application securing approval. Furthermore, any other feedback and comments obtained during the pre-application phase would be integrated into the full planning application to maximize the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
Additional strategic approaches that can enhance your chances of obtaining planning permission include our Development Appraisals, thorough planning research, ‘twin-track’ applications, appeals, and optimizing your Permitted Development opportunities.
For most planning applications, once the application is submitted (with the majority now being submitted online through the Planning Portal), a written receipt is generated. The process of assessing your application commences with an initial Council ‘validity’ phase, followed by a consultation period, and only after that, a planning officer undertakes a comprehensive evaluation. During the validity phase, the Council may provide comments, ultimately culminating in confirmation of the application’s validity, a process typically completed in less than two weeks. We ensure that you receive copies of all pertinent communications throughout the entire planning process, and we can clarify their significance as needed.
Once the application is deemed valid, you have the ability to monitor progress at any time through the Council’s website. However, it’s important to note that these websites may not consistently offer a complete overview. For instance, certain information may be redacted, and there could be occasional omissions or errors in the online information or statements. Councils may differ in their approach to information presentation on their websites, particularly concerning politically sensitive matters or planning enforcement. Not all Council websites are equally user-friendly, so we are readily available to provide progress updates upon request and throughout the planning process, adhering to our service standards.
As an application approaches the statutory deadline for issuing a decision, typically within 8 weeks from the validity date, we place significant emphasis on monitoring the progress. We actively engage with planning officers to ascertain their support for an approval, and we will keep you informed of this dialogue. If necessary, we will recommend specific actions to facilitate approval.
Upon the issuance of the planning decision, we ensure that you receive a copy and provide advice regarding the rationale behind the decision, the implications of any associated planning conditions, and the available ‘next steps.’
Permitted Development, commonly referred to as ‘PD,’ encompasses a set of rights established by parliament, allowing certain alterations and modifications to many buildings without requiring full planning permission. PD rights are typically applicable to most residential properties and, to some extent, commercial buildings. Consequently, numerous residential extensions can progress without necessitating a comprehensive planning permission application from your local Council. For instance, single-storey rear or side extensions and most loft conversions are highly likely to fall within the scope of Permitted Development, provided they remain within size limitations. In the case of commercial buildings, there exists a range of potential ‘Changes of Use,’ such as the conversion of offices or shops into residential use. However, it’s important to note that commercial PD rights can be strictly regulated by Councils to prevent such transitions.
In nearly all cases, it is advisable to apply for a ‘Certificate of Lawful Development,’ a certificate issued by your local Council, which serves as confirmation that your development complies with the applicable legislation. This certificate offers the assurance that you can proceed with the construction outlined in the submitted drawings and can be invaluable, particularly when you decide to sell your property.
Certain Councils employ various methods to impose restrictions on Permitted Development. For instance, an ‘Article 4’ direction may be in effect, often associated with Conservation Areas, which can curtail the scope of Permitted Development rights.
The Planning Portal has a simple guide to how PD affects most properties.
- Permitted Development (PD) regulations are characterized by their complexity, with precise details outlined in Statutory Instruments, including the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) in its amended form. These regulations can be referenced and explored on the government’s Planning Portal.
- Significant alterations to Permitted Development rights were introduced in May 2013, marking substantial relaxations of the constraints for homeowners. For instance, it became feasible to extend a terraced or semi-detached house by up to 6 meters to the rear, as opposed to the previous limit of 3 meters. However, it is imperative to adhere to the correct procedures. Hence, an application to the Council, known as ‘Prior Approval,’ must be submitted. Essentially, the Council initiates contact with your immediate neighbors to seek their consent for your extension.
- Numerous limitations impact your PD rights, including the influence of prior extensions, your property’s proximity to a road, and any preexisting planning conditions imposed on the property. It’s essential to note that PD rights do not extend to flats.
- Significant rights pertain to the use of land and buildings, encompassing extensions to shops and commercial structures. Lyondale Planning and Architecture can offer expert insights into how PD rights may benefit your development. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 0800 677 1999 or contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Change of Use
Changing the purpose of land or a building typically necessitates the acquisition of planning permission. Various types of properties, including shops, restaurants, houses, offices, and leisure facilities, are categorized under distinct Use Classes as outlined by the government.
In cases where you intend to transition from one use class to another, even if it entails minimal construction or design alterations, it is probable that you will need to submit an application to the council. Definitions of each use class are accessible on the Planning Portal, although it’s essential to be aware that these definitions can undergo periodic revisions. Rights to change from one use class to another also experience frequent alterations, driven by government efforts to either promote or discourage certain types of uses, such as those linked to employment or those considered ‘anti-social,’ like betting shops. The precise interpretations within each use class can sometimes fall into a gray area, as seen in the case of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs). In situations where these aspects are contentious, it is prudent to ascertain the legality of your intended use, as Councils possess the authority to initiate enforcement measures upon discovering uses that contravene established policies.
If your planning application gets refused, you usually have 3 options worth considering:
- Do nothing
In most instances, pursuing an appeal with the Planning Inspectorate is a worthwhile consideration. Situated in Bristol, this government department is responsible for handling all appeals in England and operates independently of your Local Planning Authority. It may come as a surprise that less than 20% of planning refusals result in appeals, and this trend may be attributed to concerns about associated costs. Therefore, we encourage you to reach out to us, and we can provide comprehensive advice regarding both the costs and potential benefits of pursuing an appeal. If your planning application pertains to a Householder development, such as a loft conversion or extension, you have a 12-week window from the date of the decision within which to initiate an appeal. For most other cases, the appeal timeframe extends to 6 months.
A re-application frequently emerges as an appealing option, as there may be adjustments you can make to your proposal to align it with the Council’s requirements. Initially, we recommend obtaining the officer’s report and scrutinizing the extent of the planners’ concerns. We are well-equipped to assist in this process and can offer expert guidance on the necessary alterations to enhance the likelihood of securing approval.
In certain scenarios, adopting a ‘twin-track’ approach, encompassing both an appeal and a re-application, can prove beneficial. Alternatively, we may suggest engaging in a formal pre-application process. If the prospects of obtaining planning approval appear bleak, we are committed to delivering forthright and impartial advice. Our extensive experience extends to successfully overturning planning refusals through appeals and reapplications. Don’t hesitate to contact us at 0800 677 1999 or get in touch via our contact details.
Building Regulations establish crucial health and safety standards that pertain to the design and construction of buildings. Prior to commencing any construction work, it is essential to submit an application to either an Approved Inspector (AI) or your local Council. You can find additional information on this process via the Planning Portal, and a registry of Approved Inspectors is available for reference. These regulations encompass a wide range of concerns, with structural integrity and fire safety being of paramount importance. Additionally, they address aspects like energy efficiency and accessibility for wheelchair users. Councils are empowered to undertake enforcement measures if building work does not conform to these regulations. To prevent unnecessary costs and disruptions, it is advisable to secure approval for your detailed design prior to commencing construction. However, if necessary, LPA is equipped to assist you with a retrospective application.
In the United Kingdom, the realm of development and construction is governed by government legislation, and the responsibility for ensuring compliance largely falls under the purview of Local Authorities. When it comes to planning, it is important to recognize that it is primarily driven by ‘policy’ rather than rigid ‘rules.’ This characteristic empowers individual Councils to wield substantial influence over the actual development that takes place within their respective boroughs. In contrast, building regulations maintain a consistent and uniform framework across most of the UK. These regulations are typically overseen by Local Authorities, which have the authority to engage private consultants, referred to as ‘Approved Inspectors,’ to assess building work and issue certificates of compliance.
It’s worth noting that planning applications represent a distinct process from those related to building regulations. Both of these systems mandate the submission of applications before commencing any construction work. In rare instances, retrospective approval may be sought, but this approach is not recommended, as it carries significant risk for the developer.
Planning policy and guidance seeks to control development and this results in restrictions on the use of land and buildings. Planning also controls appearance, landscaping, movement of vehicles and pedestrians and impacts on the environment as a whole.
Building Regulations establish essential health and safety standards governing the design and construction of buildings. It is imperative to acknowledge that other areas of legislation could hold significant relevance to your specific building project. These may encompass aspects such as Means of Escape, Disability Discrimination, compliance with The Party Wall Act, adherence to The Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 (CDM15), and obtaining approval from entities like Thames Water or other infrastructure providers. Should you require guidance on whether your project is influenced by any of the aforementioned regulations, we encourage you to reach out to us at email@example.com.
The involvement of a Chartered Structural Engineer is typically essential for several reasons, with the primary one being the necessity to demonstrate compliance with Building Regulations, a crucial aspect of any construction project. This often entails providing evidence of the suitability of foundations, and in some cases, structural components like steelwork, particularly in the context of roof structures. The structural engineer plays a pivotal role in assessing the structural integrity of your existing building and the characteristics of the ground upon which the new extension will be constructed. In some instances, they may recommend conducting ‘intrusive’ investigations, such as trial pits, to gather essential data and offer informed advice. Based on our extensive experience, it is highly probable that the expertise of a Structural Engineer will be required, even for relatively small-scale projects.
The fees associated with specialist consultants, such as a Chartered Structural Engineer or Approved Inspector, are not encompassed within our service, as explicitly outlined in our mutually agreed scope of service, as detailed in our written agreement. It’s important to note that we do not directly contract with engineers. Nevertheless, our scope typically encompasses coordinating with these specialists to facilitate the acquisition of a ‘Plans Certificate.’
While we are not structural engineers ourselves, we firmly believe that the choice of which engineer to collaborate with should ultimately rest with you, as the Employer. We maintain partnerships with numerous engineers and other specialized professionals, drawing upon our extensive industry expertise to assist you in selecting a consultant who aligns best with the specific requirements of your project. It’s essential to bear in mind that it falls within your responsibility to furnish us with comprehensive details regarding the appointment of any consultant. This information is crucial to enable us to effectively fulfill our duties and advance the best interests of your project.
As outlined in our formally agreed scope of service, we are equipped to aid in formulating a brief for your Structural Engineer. We can establish communication with them and assess their output to ensure its alignment with our design efforts. Upon request, we can facilitate the submission of their drawings and calculations to an Approved Inspector for building regulations approval. However, it is worth noting that it is standard practice for engineers to directly transmit this information to the Approved Inspector or the Local Authority Building Control Department..
It is probable that minor adjustments may be necessary during the planning process. While we exert significant effort to navigate the planning procedures by collaborating closely with the Council, we will provide early advice if we anticipate substantial challenges from planning authorities. The final decision from the Council hinges largely on the extent to which your proposal aligns with established policies, particularly in terms of extension scale and its potential impact on neighboring properties.
Rest assured, we are committed to keeping you well-informed about all design details and the rationale behind them, as well as all communications we engage in with the Council. However, if it becomes apparent that a significant design alteration is essential to secure planning approval, we may recommend additional architectural, planning, or specialist consultant work, such as a daylight study. This supplementary work might involve amending your existing application, or in some instances, a re-application may be the more advantageous approach.
We generally allow for minor adjustments, which may require a maximum of 1 or 2 hours of our time. Nevertheless, should circumstances necessitate work beyond the scope of our written agreement, an additional charge may apply. We will engage in open communication with you to reach a mutually agreeable supplementary fee, calculated on a transparent basis. In compliance with the stringent codes of conduct governing our services, any additional costs will always be confirmed in writing before proceeding. It’s important to note that expenses related to other consultants or Council fees are not encompassed within the scope of our service and fee agreements.
Planning obligations (CIL & Section 106)
When applying for planning permission, it’s advisable to ascertain whether there is a cost associated with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). CIL is a fee imposed by local councils, authorities, and the Mayor of London on various types of developments, including new houses, flats, residential extensions, and commercial projects.
CIL serves as a form of “planning gain” and was introduced by the Planning Act 2008 to help local authorities in England and Wales fund essential infrastructure projects like roads, flood defenses, schools, and parks. It was implemented through the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010. Virtually all types of development are subject to the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regulations, although the specific contribution amount can vary. Calculating the CIL cost can be intricate. Certain developments, such as small extensions and “self-build” projects, may be excluded, so it’s wise to refer to the guidance. Each local authority establishes its own CIL charges, and the basis for these calculations is typically available on the council’s website. Please be aware that these charges may be subject to inflationary adjustments.
Crucially, the CIL system necessitates applicants to provide timely acknowledgment of their liability. It’s essential to respond promptly to any communication from the Council regarding CIL contributions, as delayed responses may result in significant financial penalties.
When we assist clients in matters related to CIL, such as completing liability forms, we do so strictly according to your explicit instructions and within the framework of a documented scope of service. We cannot assume responsibility for any errors, omissions, or costs arising from this work. Therefore, we strongly advise all clients to thoroughly review all communications pertaining to CIL. It’s important to note that only the planning applicant can be held liable for the CIL process and associated charges. Generally, CIL payments are due within 60 days from the commencement of the development.