08 Feb How to maximise your chances of getting planning permission
If there’s one undeniable fact about building projects, it’s that the longer they take the more the cost, so when you decide to build that extension, loft conversion or develop that plot of land, it’s vital to plan properly. This is all the more important when planning permission is required, as if this goes wrong it can kick a schedule way out of whack and the budget is likely follow.
Planning permission may have been relaxed in many ways over the years to make extending and building just that little bit easier for the average homeowner, but this should never be taken for granted. Planning permission is still required on some builds and it most certainly does get rejected from time to time, so here is our list of top tips for maximising your chances of getting planning permission first time when you need it to avoid costly delays.
Be a pinnacle of the community
Okay, maybe you don’t need to go quite that far, unless you want to of course, but your neighbours will often have a say in whether you get your planning permission. They will have a right to object and this will be taken into consideration in your council’s decision, along with a list of other factors. So, return their lawnmower, wave good morning when you’re off to work and steer clear of any over-the-Victoria-sponge gossip at the local fair, because the thing that might stand in the way of planning permission for your dream extension could be the person relaxing in the garden next to yours.
Make enquiries at your local planning office as soon as possible
While planning permission documentation may be similar wherever you are in the country, the priorities for permission may be quite different. It is important, therefore, for you to have conversations with your local planning office, and preferably with your local planning officer, as soon as possible. They may well offer some insights into what they are looking to promote or discourage on developments in their area which could help you adapt your plans before submitting them for approval, increasing your chances of a first time thumbs up from the council and saving you time and money. This also shows willing to work with your local authority to do the right thing, potentially earning you kudos and brownie points.
Get to the root of the problem
One of the factors your local planning officer will be looking into when you submit your application is the long-term health of both the building and its occupants. And one thing that could impact on this is subsidence – the slippage of part (or all) of a building. This is determined by many factors: the build quality, the foundation depth and design, the soil you are building those foundations into, and anything that impacts on that soil’s stability. One of the clearest red flags for a planning officer is the presence of a large tree too close to the planned extension/building, because the bigger the tree, the more water it sucks out of the ground seasonally, creating air pockets that could cause subsidence. Of course, different trees soak up different amounts of water – it’s not just about the size, but also the species and location of the tree, something a planning officer is not always trained to appreciate in any nuanced way. This is why if you have a large tree near a construction boundary it makes sense to get a tree surgeon to produce a tree report on it ahead of any planning officer inspection, to evidence that it is not going to be a problem.
Great design does not mean greater chance of approval
Planning officers are not looking for the next modernist creation or innovative construction material to champion. In fact, the more ‘out there’ your design is, the harder you’ll need to work to get it past planning permission. I’m not suggesting that your plans need to be boring or traditional, only that a planning officer’s job is to protect the integrity of the property designs in the local area and if your plans compromise this then expect to have to evidence why you feel it would be a good thing. There are many subtle ways you can create a new home or extension that reflects your individuality while also respecting the local architectural norms. A good builder and architect should be able to achieve this for you.