The All Purpose Guide To Planning Permission in The UK

Building projects in the UK are heavily regulated by the Government.

Therefore, when planning a building project here in the UK……proceed with due caution and consideration.

It is often the case you will need to obtain planning permission from the authorities.

If your upcoming building project involves any of the following (as declared by the UK Government website):

  • a new building
  • ‘major’ changes to an existing building
  • change the use of the building 

…then you are probably in need of planning permission

Who is responsible for making decisions on UK planning permission?

The UK Government have delegated the handling of planning permission to local authorities.

Each local authority duly considers every application submitted.


…they respond in writing, within published time frames.

Building projects are all different.

The variables involved in each project are assessed by your Council’s building & planning team.

They weigh up – whether or not any particular building project should be granted permission.

Each authority’s criteria will be different.


…just because similar projects in your area have been granted permission (or not)…

…doesn’t automatically mean yours will be treated the same.

Their decision making depends on individual case-by-case factors.

You cannot predict it.

How will my local planning authority assess my request?

There are no guarantees in advance of an official ruling.

For one reason or another, a project which seemed favourable today to a particular Council…

…could be deemed unfavourable tomorrow for very plausible, strategic reasons.

There are no hard and fast rules.

By enlarge, some property owners may lack the understanding of:

  • why,
  • when,
  • how

…planning permission is actually governed here in the UK, leading to frustration during the process.

Where are the up-to-date rules on UK planning permission published? and are the primary sources for the authoritative word on planning permission.

That being said,

…our editorial team here at felt there was a need for a:

  • user-friendly,
  • easily digestible
  • online guide

…on this subject to grant greater transparency.

This is where we came up with the idea to create:

An All-Purpose Guide To UK Planning Permission

Who exactly is this guide for?

All purpose = For all.

Not just smallholders (…although, from time to time we might make reference to smallholders for contextual relevance.)

As the title of this guide suggests,

…we hope this document may help anyone considering a building project in the UK understand more about planning permission.

It is an illustrative breakdown of all things planning permission related for UK property owners.

What are the limitations?

This guide is not intended to be definitive.

Nor does this guide in any way constitute legal advice or consultation.

It is an unofficial resource.

But we hope you may find this a useful resource in helping you with getting to grips with this sprawling topic.

If you seek a:

plain English,

  • tidy
  • comprehensive
  • 3rd party round-up

…that brings together many parts of this legislative minefield into one cohesive bunch

– then take a few minutes to read through the overview below of this guide.


What is this guide purposed to do?

Your 1st stop for learning about UK planning permission should always be the source:

…you simply can’t go wrong here.

So why this guide?

We pulled this resource together,

…not at all as a substitute, nor replacement for the official documentation…

nor in competition with go-to resources like written by Planning Portal.

Rather we hope this guide might complement your reading elsewhere on the subject of planning permission.

We simply wanted to add value and not replicate.

How does someone use this guide?

We’ve made this document granular.

Down to the last detail.

It’s an in-depth, yet interactive read.

Take your time with is and ask your questions as you go along.

We built it to deliver direction for where you can get the answers.

The great thing about this guide is that once you get an answer to your question…

…you can simply download a PDF version with just the bits you need for your project.

Feel free to share the document with your professional advisory team.

They might make use of it with you as a common point of communication on the topic.


[A] Reasons For Agricultural Land Owners To Seek Planning Permission

There are many reasons, both obvious and not so plain…

…for smallholders and agricultural landowners seeking planning permission.

Some endeavours seem to warrant the title of ‘building project’ as being more transformational than others.

With this in mind,

…we decided to document a comprehensive spread of precipitating issues, big and small, for a planning permission application.

This section is written in the context of rural land ownership.

[B] Smallholdings: Real Estate Features & Planning Permission

Smallholdings have distinct features which typically prevail as common themes from one property to another.

Because of these shared characteristics,

…we thought it a useful focus to highlight these features as areas you might want to have top of mind when it comes to planning permission for your smallholding.

[C] About Planning Permission

This section is developed with adding definition to the topic of planning permission in mind.

We aim to explain what planning permission is by origin…

And the various functions of this whole area of building regulation.

As a chapter,

…we hope it brings you into solid understanding how the various stakeholders of any building project interact leading up-to and throughout the decision making process.

[D] Planning Permission Application Process

The application process for planning permission is a standard format.

If you have knowledge of this process, this can make all the difference to the quality of your application.

Being more familiar with the process can help to remove uncertainty.

Also, it helps to generally set your expectations fairly.

Where applicants are unsure about the procedure,

…this can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment or failure.

This is entirely avoidable with an informed chapter like this one.

[E] The Cost Of Planning Permission

Building projects are costly.

Keeping overall spend within budget takes being diligent.

Identifying and counting all possible costs, no matter how small, is key.

This section is aimed at providing you with a framework for estimating the cost of your planning permission application.

[F] Drawings For Planning Permission

The technical discipline of an architectural draft may well be applicable to your project.

Such drafts support to your written planning permission application.

This portion of the guide is focused on making simple the requirements for the technical draft.

[G] Consent For Planning Permission

The consent for planning application is governed by the type of application made.

This is a list of the types of application available and the consent, therefore, sought after.

[H] Typical Building Projects

An A-Z list of potential building projects for which planning permission may or may not be required.

This section is aimed at providing a library of proposed building projects and their treatment, as far as planning permission is concerned.

[I] Smallholding Business Dependencies

Smallholding business start-up or growth may require:

  • building modification


  • even a new building.

If so,

…then planning permission may indeed become mission-critical to your ability to trade as planned.

These are just a few typical examples of smallholding business venture and their potential for triggering a planning permission application.

[J] Related Considerations

Planning permission is not the only consideration you should or would have for a building project.

We do our best to compliment other planning considerations which would typically accompany this main issue.

Some planning permission frequently asked questions (FAQs)

These are some of the typical questions asked by property owners tackling new building projects.

Our planning permission guide answers many of these issues…read on to find out more:

What if I want to appeal a planning permission decision?

If you have received a planning permission ruling that is unfavourable…

…there is an official process for appeal.

This downloadable PDF guide provides a simple outline of how this happens, with the timeframes involved.


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