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Planning permission for a home extension 

Even with the revised permitted development rules issued in October 2008, most home extensions still require formal planning permission as the conditions relating to what you can and cannot build under PD are very complicated with conditions.  A PD home extension is often a compromised design for the homeowner as this may not be within the preferred siting or dimensional limits.

The Planning Permission Process:-

Therefore, every home owner should start on the premis that their home extension will require formal planning permission.  If it doesn't, then this is simply a possible bonus.  Unless you already know how to assess the merits and constraints of a site applicable to planning considerations, you are best advised to obtain initial advice from an experienced home extension designer or architect.

Once you have an idea of the issues and whether or not your scheme will be supported by the case planning officer, you can then proceed with engaging your preferred home extension designer or architect. These people will take the lead role in guiding you through the planning process.

If you are new to being an 'applicant' through the planning system of your local council, you will probably find it a very enlightening process with a few surprises along the way.  Your Design Agent will normally complete all the application forms and submit the application for you.

You may also require external consultant reports to support the Planning application and your design agent will be able to advise you on what is actually required.  Many home extension planning applications also require a design and access statement.  This document explains the designers thought process, what planning issues and constraints has been identified, how the proposed design accommodates those identified, what other design options have been considered and a few other issues such as disabled access.

Some homeowners who have some basic drafting skills try and draw their own home extension plans. Many homeowners who have done this before would not try it again. Most DIY home owner planning drawings misrepresent themselves on the plans by presenting wrong or misleading information that often results in a technical trap later on where their planning approval can become invalid and needs to submit an 'as built' scheme drawings later on taking the risk that the new revised plans may not be acceptable and the home extension needs to be removed or modified - it happens, believe me.

Most planning applications will take exactly 8 weeks for most householder schemes. about 10% will come later or sooner but 8 weeks is the norm. Each Planning authority will have their own administration  process and  internal targets for deciding your scheme. Many proactive councils will conduct their site visit early and get back to the designer or architect fairly quickly with any comments on the scheme that need amending and can continue within the current planning application. 

Other less efficiently run Planning Authorities will simply not negotiate or make contact during the application and can refuse it on the most simplest of issues.  There view is address the reasons for refusal and resubmit the application under the applicants 1 free go allowance within 12 months of the original decision notice.

Most planning applications for home extensions will be approved.  Only a small percentage get refused each year.  If your scheme is  refused planning permission you do have the opportunity to appeal the application to the Planning Inspectorate.  Our advice would be to always secure a compromised planning approval first by amending the home extension design and resubmitting the application.  Appealing is always a last resort.

During the planning process there will be a number of consultations of on the scheme seeking comments and advice from various people. These will be neighbours, highways, tree experts, Nature Officers, Environment Agency....and the list can go on depending upon the location and proposal of home extension works.

This where you get to see who really are the friendly neighbours.  Be prepared for a fallout with one or two neighbours as many neighbours take this opportunity to complain on all sorts of levels.  Many stick to the relevant planning issues of concern but many also rant on about noise, builders bums, radios, mud on the road, house prices etc.  These neighbours who 'go off topic' usually end up being disregarded by the Case Planning Officer.

If the Case Officer does receive an  adverse comment on your application they then have to act as 'judge and jury' as to whether or not the neighbour compliant is a sustainable objection.  Some are while many are not.

Most Councils use the delegated decision route to determine your home extension scheme through Planning.  This is where the application is not brought to main council committee meetings for discussion but merely signed of by the Councils Team leader or head of department.

The application can be 'called in' to full committee meeting to be determined but only by the relevant district councilor for your area normally.  This can happen if one or more of your neighbours has lobbied the district councilor and they agree with the complaints or is doing the maths for the next set of votes in the Council elections.


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