Planning applications: things you need to know

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Feeling excited about the prospect of extending your home or office premises? The vision you have in mind is perfect. This time next year, you’re confident you’ll be enjoying that new space, and no one is going to slow you down or stop you. Except maybe, the planning system… 

Fear not! An experienced, qualified architect can navigate the planning minefield to help you realise your vision. 

Gaining planning consent for building work, especially on a historic building, can be tricky. We have detailed knowledge of national and local planning policies that underpin any planning permission and can help address all the criteria before your project is submitted to the Planning Committee.

Here are just five things you need to consider:

  1. History – listed buildings

History can be a key factor affecting whether you achieve your future plans. The older a building is, the more likely it is to be listed, and that has an impact on whether your planning permission is successful. We understand historic buildings and the rules that surround changes to them. Our knowledge and experience help us to foresee issues and find creative solutions that mean your plans can work in partnership with the historic significance of the property.

  1. Geography 

Where your property is located can have a significant impact on how, or even if, you are permitted to build. Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, Conservation Areas, flood risk areas or local ecology are just a few of the potential constraints that could affect your plans. You can use online mapping tools to see if your property is in, or near protected land, but the key is knowing what to do if it is. 

Over the years, we have encountered almost every possible category of environmental protection. Meeting environmental requirements can be complex, so we communicate closely with planners to ensure your design works within your local constraints. And we are realistic, so if we know that your vision just won’t be acceptable within the local environment, we will tell you up front and offer you alternative options.

  1. Legal 

Before getting too deeply involved in your vision, it is wise to dig out the legal documents surrounding your property. You must check the obvious – that you are the legal owner – but also check the less obvious including restrictive covenants. These covenants can date back many years and might specify something irrelevant to your application, like you are not allowed to own pigs, or might prevent you from extending your property at all. We can undertake a thorough legal search, so you have visibility of any legal constraints that might need navigating. 

  1. Survey requirements 

It is a fact that all building projects will need surveys – but knowing exactly which surveys you need in advance will help you to manage your budget and build realistic timeframes for contractors on site. We can offer clear guidance of what surveys will be required and even project manage contractors on your behalf to keep your project moving forward efficiently.

  1. Being a good neighbour

There’s more to being a good neighbour than just having a chat over the fence or sharing a cuppa every so often. Changes to your property could directly impact your neighbour’s enjoyment of their property. Using an architect will help you to identify and deal with potential issues, however subtle, including affects to lighting, access or drainage. If ignored or mis-handled, these potential issues can quickly become contentious enough for your neighbour to raise with the planning committee as a reason to refuse your application. 

A good architect = a good planning application 

The planning process can be long, detailed and onerous. An experienced and qualified architect however, will maximise the chance of your project passing the scrutiny of the planning committee… You could be enjoying your new space sooner than you think! 

Oh, one final piece of advice – it pays to know whether you even need to apply for planning permission. Some building alterations can proceed as permitted developments – best check with us! 

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