In a recent video, I interview planning consultant, Chris Whitehouse, who is Managing Director at Next Phase. Chris is an award-winning surveyor, the author of The Planning Doctor's Guide to Understanding Planning and is a RICS Accredited Expert Witness. Chris’ extensive knowledge of planning law means he is able to help developers like myself meet the requirements of local councils and national planning policy.
If you are a developer, or are looking into development as part of your overall property investment strategy, it is essential to understand the planning process. It is important to understand not just the procedure but also the objectives that local councils are seeking to meet. When you understand what councils are looking for, you can tailor your plans so that they are more likely to be approved. I strongly recommend watching the video (above) in full to get a better understanding of the process. In this article, I am going to highlight 3 key things every developer needs to do to increase their chances of getting their applications approved.
1. Understand permitted development rights
In a number of circumstances, you don’t need planning permission for certain types of development. This is because of what is known as permitted development rights. Some examples of this include: certain extensions to residential homes; outbuildings and commercial to residential conversions. These rights have given developers a clearer understanding of what will and will not be approved in specific situations.
It is important to understand however that there are a number of caveats to consider when relying on permitted development rights. In some cases, you will still need approval from the council to use these rights. This will mean there will be a process that is similar to submitting a planning application, but the process will be less subjective and based on a clearer set of rules. In the case of commercial to residential conversions, the council can require you to apply for planning permission if the changes could have an impact on the quiet enjoyment or the commercial enjoyment of the surrounding area.
2. Understand the national and local planning policy
The National Planning Policy Framework is a document that informs the local planning policy for each area. Often local policy is out of date and hasn’t been updated to reflect the national policy position. It is therefore essential to have a good understanding of this document as it will help you to ensure your application meets current requirements. You can find a copy of The National Planning Policy Framework here.
You also need to understand the local plan, which is produced by the council in which the land is located. This will go into more detail and provide site specific and area specific designations. Having a full understanding of this is essential for a planning application. You can find this plan on the website of the relevant local authority.
3. Understand when an architect can help and when you need a planning consultant
In more straightforward applications, an architect may well be able to advise about planning matters. However where there are added risks or problems that may arise with an application, it is worth seeking the advice of a planning consultant. Because planning law is complex and planning permission can make or break a project, it is very much worth the investment.