The All Purpose Guide To Planning Permission in The UK

Posted On: October 16, 2017 Published by | View Comments

The All-Purpose Guide To Planning Permission

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 because you may 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), then you are probably in need of planning permission:

  • …you plan a new building
  • …plan to make ‘major’ changes to an existing building
  • …intend to change the use of the building 

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

Each authority duly considers every application submitted to them and responds with an official written response, within published time frames.

Building projects are very different one to another in very many ways.

The variables involved in each project are assessed by your Council’s building & planning team who weigh up whether or not any particular building project should be granted permission.

Each authority’s criteria will be different.

Also, any given authority at any given time may pursue an entirely different outcome for their assessment of a proposed building project – depending on a number of factors.

For one reason or another, a project one day which seemed favourable to a particular Council, may be deemed unfavourable the next for very plausible reasons and rationale. No hard and fast rules.

Whilst within the walls of your local Council’s Planning Department each decision made may be founded upon entirely suitable reasoning, communicating their justification soundly might leave the applicant guessing.

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.

Whilst and are the primary sources for the authoritative word on planning permission, 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. We have endeavoured to make this an illustrative breakdown of all things planning permission related.


This guide is not intended to be definitive, or in anyway constitute legal advice or consultation, but simply an unofficial, yet hopefully, useful resource helping you with getting to grips with this sprawling topic.

If you seek a neat, 3rd party round-up which 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?

We pulled this resource together, not at all as a substitute, nor replacement for the official documentation on the matter, written by Planning Portal. Rather we hope this guide might compliment 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.

Therefore we would suggest you steadily make your way through the entirety of this guide, perhaps by bookmarking or even downloading the completed PDF as a desktop reference during your project planning phases.

Feel free to share the document with your professional advisory team, who also 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 land owners 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 which if you have knowledge of well in advance, can make a difference to your resulting quality in application.

Having oversight of the chain of activity leading up to to a decision can help to remove uncertainty and just generally set your expectations fairly.

Where applicants are unsure about the procedure, this can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment or failure, which can be entirely avoided 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 with counting all possible costs, no matter how small.

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

[F] Drawings For Planning Permission

The technical discipline of architectural draft may well be applicable as support to your written planning permission application.

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

[G] Consent For Planning Permission

The consent for planning application is given according to the application type 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 proposal building projects and their treatment, as far as planning permission is concerned.

[I] Smallholding Business Dependencies

Smallholding business start-up or growth may we require building modification or new building.

If this becomes necessary, then the issue of 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.

[K] Web App

Want to know if your building plans need permission before seeking professional help?

Use this online web application which is a yes-no machine for finding out if planning permission will be needed.

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