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Sutherland Property & Legal Services

Please do contact us if you have a question or query not answered by our FAQ's or resources section - we would be delighted to help. 


Do I need planning permission?

Planning permission is required when you wish to build a new structure or addition to your property (such as an extension) or to start to use a property in a different way from before (for example a change of use from retail to residential).  There are a huge number of exemptions and exceptions to this and you will be advised whether your proposal requires permission at our first meeting.  People are often surprised to learn what they do or don’t need permission for but the important point is to never commence development works before taking advice. An unlawful development can be enforced against by the Local Planning Authority who can prevent the development and/or require you to demolish structures already built.

How does the planning system work?
The planning system is based on legislation and government guidance at a national and local level. The guidelines that Local Planning Authorities (LPA) have to follow when making a decision as to whether to grant planning permission are known as Development Plan Documents/Local Framework Documents.  The planning officer assigned to an application will consider all relevant policies in these documents as well as legislation, the Local Plan, and any third party comments received during the consultation process before deciding whether to permit it.  Occasionally your proposal will be in a zoned area such as a Conservation Area or the property itself may have specific merits and be a Listed Building.  In such cases additional policies will apply and care will be needed in framing the design of the proposal.

What is the planning process?
The process is as follows:

  • Scoping of the development proposal, in consultation with the client and architectural support, to create the desired scheme.
  • Submit the application with plans, associated fee and any supporting documentation.
  • The Local Planning Authority (LPA) consult locally and with statutory consultees (e.g. the Parish Council).
  • The LPA consider responses, legislation and policy.
  • The LPA issue a decision notice.


What type of documents will be required for the application?
Most applications will require submission of a form, a fee payable to the LPA, plans showing existing site and proposal and a supporting statement setting out what is being applied for.  However, a range of site specific documents may be required depending on the nature of the site and the proposal being made.  Most applications require a design and access statement, a sustainability statement and a flood risk assessment.
In larger developments further documents may also need to be submitted with the application to address the impact of the proposal – for example; traffic movement survey or Environmental Impact Assessment.  In certain situations the LPA will require the negotiation of a s.106 Agreement and, again, if this applies to your development we will advise you in respect of this.

What happens if it goes to committee for decision?
On some occasions, when the development is large or important enough to warrant further scrutiny by the Local Planning Authority, or will have significant objection, it will be referred to planning committee for decision.  If this is likely, we advise how committee works and prepare appropriate submissions, arranging to attend the committee meeting to speak on your behalf.

What happens once planning permission is obtained?
Once planning permission is obtained, you will often need to obtain building regulation approval before beginning the project and we can advise on this at that stage.  The notice of decision will set out the conditions which will apply to your permission and we will review them to ensure that they are acceptable.  You must comply with all conditions attached and in some cases make a further application to formally discharge a condition before starting any work on your development.

My proposal was refused, what can I do?
In some cases, we act for clients where permission has been refused because the development has been incorrectly considered, in others because the development is unacceptable in design or other terms.  The Notice of Decision will set out why the proposal is refused and depending on those reasons, it may be appropriate to appeal the decision.  In some cases, an alternative proposal can be considered and a second application made which addresses the previous concerns.  If you do need to make an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, which is a national body, the application is free.  We can advise on specific appeal types, costs etc should the situation arise as we offer an appeals service. 

I still have questions, what do I do?
Please contact us for site specific advice. Every application is unique, despite what appear to be relatively similar designs, and each proposal will have different factors to consider. In some cases, access needs to be agreed with neighbours, additional permissions are required, or covenants on the plot affect the proposals.

We also have a fixed fee planning appraisal service which sets out the potential for achieving a particular development at a site.  This will ensure you are fully informed before purchasing a site, or taking any proposal forward, and can be useful in future negotiations in relation to the site.

FAQ's