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The importance of obtaining planning permission
24 May 2023

Planning permission is required if you want to change the use of a building or piece of land, build something, or make a major change to a building such as extending it. The risk of not obtaining the appropriate planning permission is that yourself or your business could be served with an enforcement notice.   

There are occasions when planning permission is not required and this is when permitted development rights apply. There are specific permitted development rights that apply to agricultural holdings and buildings. If your farm is 5 hectares or more then you have permitted development rights to erect a farm building (up to 1,000 m2) or carry out excavations and engineering operations needed for agricultural purposes. Permitted development rights also enable the change of use of certain agricultural buildings to dwellings, commercial space or schools.

The first stage of any potential development is to understand whether:

a) it counts as permitted development; and

b) it requires full planning permission.

Often, projects which are permitted development still require an application process known as the ‘prior approval’ which assesses the proposals to ensure they comply with the permitted development regulations.

It is helpful to employ a qualified planner to help you understand what type of application is required and what information the Local Planning Authority will require to determine the application. Robinson & Hall has vast experience on a range of application types and is able to assist from the initial pre-application stages, preparation and submission of a planning application through to a decision and even to appeal. 

Robinson & Hall’s Top Tips for a Successful Planning Application:

  • Engage in the pre-application process.
  • Review the validation requirements for the Local Planning Authority and ensure no information is missing at the time of submission.
  • Review the Local Plan policies against your proposals: do they comply? What can you change to ensure compliance?
  • Engage with your neighbours.
  • Be sympathetic to the surrounding local area and its characteristics.
  • Think about ecology: engage with an ecologist at an early stage to ensure great crested newts or bats do not hold up an application.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid when Applying for Planning Permission:

  • Allow yourself enough time to obtain planning permission and discharge any pre-commencement conditions prior to construction. Planning can be slow and often does not stick to the prescribed deadlines. Allowing enough time to obtain permission can ensure that unexpected increases in building costs could be avoided.
  • Ensure the highways access into the site is acceptable: can the appropriate visibility splays for the speed limit be achieved?
  • Commencing development prior to planning permission being granted. This will mean your application needs to be retrospective and if it is refused, any work may need to be removed.
  • Do not underestimate the influence of neighbours or political figures. The planning system is political and your application may be heard at a planning committee meeting in front of local councillors.
  • Is your property listed? Check your permitted development rights; they will be different to regular householder rights and you will most likely require Listed Building Consent and/or planning permission for any works.

Have You Undertaken Development Without Planning Permission?

If you have undertaken development without planning permission, you could be at risk from enforcement action such as the receipt of an enforcement notice. It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice and to do so could result in a stop notice being served, a large fine being issued or even potential prison time. There are only 28 days to appeal an enforcement notice and so if you are served with one, you should seek professional planning advice immediately.

Planning can be confusing and mistakes can be made. Breaches of planning can be regularised in two ways:

  1. Submission of a retrospective planning application;
  2. Submission of a Certificate of Lawful Use.

We have been involved with a variety of cases whereby planning was mistakenly not obtained, or enforcement notices have been served. We are well experienced in reviewing sites and cases on an individual basis and advising the best course of action.

Had Planning Refused? How We Can Help:

If you have submitted a planning application that has been refused by the Local Planning Authority, there are options for you to still proceed.

Appeal – Applicants can appeal planning authority decisions up to six months after the issuing of a decision notice. We offer a full appeal service, irrespective if of whether we were involved in the initial planning application or not. We are able to advise on all types of appeals and have been very successful in overturning refused planning applications through the appeals process with the Planning Inspectorate.

Resubmission – We also have experience in assisting where applications have been refused or withdrawn. This could have been through a misunderstanding with the Local Planning Authority or because of missing information if the application was submitted without specialist planning advice. We can review previously submitted applications and assess what would be required at a re-submission stage to ensure a successful outcome. We work closely with third-party consultants and have good relationships with the Local Planning Authorities.

Other Planning News

  • Consultation on potential Permitted Development Rights for Short-Term Lets has now finished. This could see a new use class introduced for short-term lets and the introduction of a permitted development right for the change of use from a dwelling to a short-term let.
  • Potential increase of up to 35% for planning application fees. This could result in application fees increasing across the board, fees for retrospective applications doubling and the ‘free-go’ for resubmissions being removed. 

For more information please contact Abel Bunu, Principal Planner on 01234 362891 or email

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