Planning Permission

Five powerful tips for getting planning permission

This sponsored content article is provided by Urbanist Architecture

The success of your planning application will depend, in part, on the quality of your preparation, the accuracy of your designs and how your relationship with the planning department and possibly the planning committee develops.

With these basic principles in mind, we’ve pinpointed five key considerations for the planning process.

1) Create quality designs

Design is the most important aspect of the planning permission process. Good design should mediate between policy and ambition.

Whether it is for a small extension or ten new houses, good design should always include appropriate scaling and a smart layout and should strive to protect and enhance the character of the surrounding environment.

To optimise your designs for a successful application, it is advisable to work with a skilled architecture firm that specialises in obtaining planning permission.

“Good design can work wonders for you. Good design can help you increase your chances of getting the planning permission you want.” – Ufuk Bahar, Urbanist Architecture

Find out more about good design from Urbanist Architecture (external site).

2) Research relevant planning policies

To produce effective designs, it’s important to research the planning policies that directly affect your project. Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) may have multiple overlapping policies in their development plan. The crucial thing is to determine which ones will influence the outcome of your application.

With any proposal, certain issues will be taken into account. These are often referred to as ’material planning considerations’. It is for your Local Planning Authority to decide how much weight should be given to each. Here are a few common examples:

  • Loss of sunlight
  • Noise or disturbance
  • Capacity of the physical infrastructure
  • Effect on listed buildings and conservation area
  • Layout and density of building design and finishing materials
  • Overlooking and loss of privacy
  • Overshadowing and loss of outlook
  • Smell or fumes
  • Loss of, or effect on, trees
  • Incompatible or unacceptable uses
  • Highway issues, including traffic generation, vehicular access, highway safety.

A skilled planning and architecture firm can do all the policy research for you and can determine which planning considerations will directly affect your proposal.

Ultimately, the firm will use their planning expertise to write an effective Design and Access Statement, which will be used to convince the LPA that your proposal does indeed comply with the relevant policies.

“The council need clear evidence that you have understood what they want and incorporated it into your proposal.” – Mark Morris, Urbanist Architecture

3) Build a relationship with your planning officer

It’s imperative to develop a positive relationship with your planning officer, as this person will most likely be responsible for making the final determination on your application. The process of liaising with planning officers requires some finesse.

For this reason, you might consider hiring a skilled architect and planning consultant, as they will have experience working with planning authorities. A planning consultant can also monitor your application as it’s being processed and if a problem arises, they can liaise with the officer to help obtain a positive outcome.

“Too many people think they have done all they can once they have submitted an application – but so much can change after that point.” – Katie Mulkowsky, Urbanist Architecture

4) Contact all relevant parties

A planning and architecture firm can also handle all technical issues that might arise during the planning application process.

For instance, your proposal may require flood risk assessments, tree surveys, archaeological investigations and any number of technical reviews.

By contacting the appropriate organisations ahead of time, your architect can prevent technical issues from undermining your proposal.

“You should be thinking beyond planning permission – you need to remember this is something that hopefully will actually be built.” – Bethany Scott, Urbanist Architecture

5) Hire a skilled professional

Many people decide not to hire planning consultants because they think not doing so will save them money. In fact, hiring a consultant can be a worthwhile investment that actually saves money, time and effort. It is therefore advisable to find architects and planning consultants with a strong track record of obtaining planning permission on tricky sites. The firm should:

  • Collaborate well. They should produce designs that satisfy both your needs and the needs of the planning authority. They should cultivate strong relationships with you and with the planning authority.
  • Communicate well. They should simplify complex ideas and clearly communicate priorities, instead of using jargon and complicated expressions.
  • Have ‘know-how’ expertise. They should understand the pitfalls of planning applications and have a strong grasp of UK planning law, contemporary design practice and planning policies.
  • Have an impressive track record. They should offer you examples of previous work and should be open about their rate of success for planning permission applications.
  • Pursue creative solutions. When obstacles arise, the architect should provide flexible solutions that optimise the use of space and increase the chances of a successful application.
  • Be an RIBA-chartered architecture firm. RIBA Chartered Practices are the only architectural practices endorsed and promoted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), through commitments to quality assurance, business management and client service.

In the end, the right architecture firm can produce quality designs that comply with your LPA’s development plan, while maintaining strong ties with the planning officer in charge of your application. For this reason, it is a good idea to hire a firm that has proved it can consistently obtain planning permission.

“Working with an RIBA-chartered firm means that the designs you submit should be of the highest professional standard.” – Toby Lewin-Lloyd, Urbanist Architecture

To find out more about Urbanist Architecture, visit their website.