Planning for Planning Permission

Every self-build project requires planning permission or permitted development rights that should be fully granted and in place before you begin your project. We know that planning can be a challenge in your self-build journey, so we’ve compiled some guidance to help.

The realities of seeking planning permission in 2022

On paper, obtaining planning permission seems swift and easy, but for some of our clients this couldn’t be further from the truth. After running at a reduced capacity because of the impacts of Covid-19, the return to full capacity has meant some local planning departments have not been able to meet demand. In addition to this, some planning departments lack the resources to meet their deadlines or fully provide support for applications that have to be circulated with community and parish councils.

In short, local planning authorities are often failing to meet their case time of 13 weeks, leaving applications in the lurch. If your planning application is venturing into an eighteen month planning wait, you are not alone. It is within your right to ask the planning department for an update on the application. In well prepared planning applications, delays are usually due to mishandled timelines by the planning authority.


How does planning work?

Local authorities work in line with the National Planning Policy to grant planning permission. Local authorities ensure that the new buildings and developments are appropriate for the local area and maintain the region’s local character. The overall process usually takes around eight weeks if it’s a simple application. But, due to the Covid related planning backlog, if you have a more complex project or if you are building in rural areas with high wildlife density, you could be expected to wait up to 18 months.

What do I need to do?

You’ll need to submit your preparations, accurate technical information and survey drawings – the more accurate they are, the more likely you are to receive planning permission. It’s really important to ensure that you invest early and have this work carried out to the best of your ability and by professionals.

It might be tempting to take short cuts and cheaper routes in the hope that you can cut costs and get a quicker outcome, but this could reduce the likelihood of you receiving planning permission. Planning Permission application costs begin at £200-£500 depending on authority. If this process isn’t done properly, you could be looking to make repeat applications that can make a considerable dent in your overall budget. Our advice echoes what we tell clients across the overall self-building journey; invest early to limit your costs further down the line.

Permission granted? It’s time to get started!

Once planning permission is granted you’ll have to ensure your project meets building regulations. In our last blog, we discussed the changes for building regulations. Take a look here to refresh yourself.

Planning Permission is time bound and expires after a given period, which is usually three years – though this can differ depending on the project. The project itself doesn’t usually have a time limit, so it’s best to make preparations to get building in good time.

If you’re struggling to make your three year period, it’s best to make a material project on the building by making simple project advancements so you can take the time to plan other aspects more carefully. Material project advancements (also known as commencement) include digging foundations, demolition or any form of construction. However, you should never get started on site until you have the soleplate or setting out drawings.

Bringing Frame Technologies on board with your project at the earliest instance means we can work with you to make sure your project meets its time constraints and we’ll be on hand to reduce the likelihood of you having to reapply for planning permission.

By sending us early planning drawings and elevation drawings, we can work with you to make sure the project can commence when planning permission is granted. We are well versed in helping our clients with planning challenges.

By choosing a timber frame from Frame Technologies you’ll be guaranteed a good turnaround; from order placement to delivery is on average, 10-12 weeks. Plus, with a timber frame manufactured in our factory controlled environment, you’ll be guaranteed a minimal erection time, which will help you meet your project goals, faster.

I’m building a barn conversion, do I need to do anything special?

Permitted Development Class Q enables self-builders to convert any pre-existing agricultural building into a new home, as long as it matches the character of the original building and surroundings; does not affect the wildlife and habitats of the local area; and is completed within three years. Whether or not you are able to build with Class Q is simple, with a pass or fail outcome.

There are two parts to Class Q:

  1. Changing an agricultural building into home
  2. Allowing the methods to reasonably allow this project to happen

Class Q now requires floor plans and evidence that there will be a suitable amount of natural light in all rooms of the property which are for living in. Applications will also need to meet the minimum space standards.

However, as with planning permission and the National Planning Policy, Class Q does have its limitations regarding listed buildings, conversation areas and sites of specific scientific interest (SSSI). If you haven’t been admitted Class Q of permitted development rights, it’s time to seek planning permission for your barn conversion.

Find out about one of our favourite barn conversions, Leadon Dale, completed under Permitted Development Class Q.

Should I be worried about bats?

If you have a hunch there’s bats, there’s probably bats.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 rightfully protects numerous species, notably all bats. Bats are found throughout the UK and are often the most common wildlife to affect planning permission. Under the act it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly disturb bats that occupy structures or a place used for shelter or protection, or limit access to their roosts. It is also illegal to kill or capture them. Any damage to bats could result in a hefty fine or even a prison sentence.

Bats take home in any long-standing structure, including most likely nearby trees or the very barn you’re hoping to convert. So, in rural areas or in for projects developing agricultural dwellings, councils may require bat surveys.

Furthermore, due to hibernation, bat assessments can only be done in spring to autumn, so it may be a wise idea to take a preliminary survey to evaluate the bat presence with an ecologist – this is known as a baseline building inspection or a bat roost potential inspection. From here, you’ll be able to determine the next steps you need to accommodate the presence of bats in your planning permission or adjust your project plans. The penalties for disturbing any protected species are not worth the risk of ignoring them.

Take the pressure out of plot hunting with guaranteed planning permission.

Every self-build project is different. While some self-builders are embarking on their project because they already have their dream plot, other journeys begin with finding the land itself. That’s why we recommend BuildStore’s Plotsearch, the UK Premier land-finding resource. After signing up, you will be able to research the UK’s best database of self-building plot opportunities for land with guaranteed planning permission. Updated daily, Plotsearch is dedicated to securing success for their users by only providing slots of land that could turn self-build dreams into a reality.

As always, we’re here to help, so of you have any queries or concerns about planning permission, get in touch and we’ll do all we can to support you.

In our next blog we will discuss the next steps to take after planning permission.