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What is planning permission? Timings & process

Planning permission can seem a bit confusing when you're starting out on a new project. However, hopefully this page can clear things up for you. Like anything, the more planning you do at the start of a project, the more likely your project is to be completed successfully, on time and within budget.

As the saying goes, fail to prepare, prepare to fail. This absolutely applies to planning permission.

When do you need to seek planning permission?

When do I need planning permission?

Planning permission applies to the construction of new buildings and extensive changes to existing builds.

You will need to acquire planning permission for:

  • Building a new house (from scratch or subdivision)
  • Adding outbuildings or extensions (depending on size)

Get started by lodging your plans with your local authority

What is the process?

​​​​​Firstly, you will need to lodge the plans with your local authority planning department to obtain detailed planning permission and building regulation approvals. Your local authority will charge for these services as they will need to send out an inspector to view the plot to assess the suitability as well as release details of your application so that objections can be lodged.

Unlike building regulations, the application of planning permission differs significantly from area to area owing to differing local development plans, local interpretation of the regulations, and the significant degree of subjectivity involved in the process.

It is essential that you contact your local planning authority as early as possible to obtain local guidance and advice.

Your planning permission request will have to go before a committee

In most instances, a simple planning application never goes to a planning committee and instead is decided at officer level. This is followed by a period of public consultation about the application.

The extent of this will depend on the impact of the development and the type of area but it will always include local neighbours. This process normally lasts 3 weeks.

Once the LA has received all the necessary responses, the Planning Officer will assess the proposal against the LA planning policies. The Planning Officer will then make a decision regarding the application or a recommendation for the planning committee.

If there is a problem with your application, the Planning Officer may contact you to try and resolve it. If it is refused, you will need to re-submit an amended proposal or appeal against the decision.

Acronyms your need to know

Acronyms you need to know

​​OPP – Outline Planning Permission

  • This is permission for the principle of development on a site. This means the details of the sizes, materials and access can be defined later. You’ll still have to make a supplementary application for full planning permission. No building can be done on OPP alone. OPP is usually valid for three years – after which point you will need to reapply.

FPP – Full Planning Permission

  • Also known as detailed planning permission. Outlines exactly what is going to be built. This includes dimensions, room layouts and building materials. You can start building as soon as FPP is granted. You may get conditions of approval to comply during the project. This is also usually valid for three years.   

What else do I need to consider?


  • Don’t forget you need to pay for your project somehow! Have your mortgage arranged with agreed terms for staggered payments for each stage. You’ll need to fund materials and services between the stages, so plan carefully.


  • You’ll have to work with an architect to turn your plans into proper working drawings. Keep them in the loop about your budgets so they can work within your guidelines.  

   Local authority

  • This is where you will file for planning permission. They will charge for this as they will send out an inspector to view the suitability of your plot.


  • You’ll need insurance to cover you for public liability, and for your building materials. Your mortgage provider may also need building cover. An insurance broker or a specialist insurance company will be able to help you out further. ​​​​​
Planning permission can be expensive so plan ahead

How much does applying cost?

Application fees depend on the nature of the development and where the application is made. Fees tend to change often, so it's a good idea to speak to your local authority to get an idea on cost as early as you can. You can also work with your architect to reduce costs, things like the materials you use can make a big difference to the planning permission fees.

Fees in England for 2023 are £462 per house for a new build, £206 for an extension or significant alterations, and £407 to extend or alter two or more properties. Factors like the size of the plot, and whether you install things like solar panels can influence the fee. There will also be various handling or processing fees for applications that will be applicable regardless of whether permission is granted or not. These costs are different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For more information on planning permission, visit GOV.UK.