What is planning permission?

Planning permission is what makes the difference between a existing use value and potential uplift in value due to gaining planning consent. You can choose to sell your land with or without planning permission. Even if land does have planning permission in place, buyers may still wish to submit their own plans before or after purchase. Either way when selling or developing land, a good understanding of the planning process is highly advantageous. This page will help you to understand the main planning concepts.

The Planning Process

The Planning Process

As with all bureaucracies the planning departments all work in accordance with a large range of local and national rules and regulations. However, the rules are relatively flexible and are interpreted through the lens of local and national politics. As a result the planning process can be quite unpredictable - it is possible for near identical applications to receive different outcomes!

The Planning process is influenced and ultimately decided by Planning Officers, Planning Department Heads, Ward Councillors, Members of the Planning Committee and sometimes the Secretary of State, or the Planning Inspectorate on behalf of the Secretary of State. The guidelines set by central government will be interpreted slightly differently by each and every participant.

To successfully navigate the process you need to be well informed, flexible and open to debate. Most importantly you need to build rapport with the local Planning Officer, local Ward Councillors and neighbours affected by the development.

Selling Land Subject to Planning Permission

It is very much the norm for property developers to purchase land subject to planning permission. This is a formal legal agreement that is binding should planning permission be gained. An alternative is an Option Agreement which means they have the option to complete the purchase should planning permission be gained.

Understanding Local Planning Policies

All councils publish a Local Development Plan which documents local planning policy in considerable detail. All planning applications will be evaluated against the requirements of the Local Development Plan where possible. The policies in the plan can work for or against your application, this means that you need to know which parts of the plan relate to your application.

There may be plans at county and district levels or there may be a combined plan. These are generally available online and many councils offer the option to purchase printed and bound copies. Supplementary planning guidance documents may also be available and these detail for example what is viewed as being an acceptable design for a particular area. Your planning department will be able to help you to find the most relevant resources.

Many house builders will use the local development plan as a research tool allowing them to target land in specific areas. When reading the plan you should particularly take note of green belt and environmental restrictions.

Outline or Full Planning Permission?

There are two types of planning permission - outline and full.

Outline Planning Permission means that the planned property development has been agreed in principle. Plans can be extremely vague and can simply specify the boundary of the plot and the intended use.

Land with full planning permission means that buyers have consent to build the development stated in the plans. If the plans are for a bungalow they have the right to build a bungalow. If they want to build a house they will need to submit a further planning application for consideration.

What is Pre-application planning advice?What is Pre-application planning advice?

A primary function of Planning Departments is to is to provide planning guidance based on policy. General advice will often be free of charge but if you want a more formal review of your application there will be fee payable.

If you do purchase pre-planning advice, use the time to identify any issues that might result in the application being refused. Your advising planning officer will also be able to suggest counter measures that can mitigate the issues. Having anticipated possible issues and causes for objection, your application will stand a much better chance of being approved. You may get a more candid response if you ask for a face-to-face meeting.

Whist the advising planning officer may not be the officer assigned to your application once it is submitted, you are none the less developing relationships. You should spend time building rapport and showing respect for them as an individual and for the planning department as a whole.

You should note that you are being given a specific officer's opinion at a particular moment in time. It may be that another planning officer or the head of the planning department or the planning committee may disagree with the advice given. This could result in your application being refused.

The Planning Consultation Process

As soon as you submit your application planners will start a process of consultation with a range of other parties. This includes other local authority departments such as the highways department and other interested parties such as neighbours.

Immediate neighbours will be consulted by letter. Other neighbours will be informed via planning notices in local newspapers and a planning notice sheet displayed outside the site. The Highways department will be consulted to ensure that transport considerations have been evaluated. The Environment Agency may be asked to evaluate flood risks. If the site is historic the county archaeologist may be consulted. The Environmental Department may be consulted to evaluate noise pollution from nearby trainlines. The conservation officer may be consulted if the site is in or near a Conservation Area. And so the list continues…

Any one of these consultations could result in your application being delayed or refused. So, in advance, try to speak with as many of the departments as possible to get advance warning of objections. For each issue raised, find a counter-measure to try to prevent the objection from being raised in the first place.

How we can help

Our land team can provide you with the guidance and assistance you will require to make an informed decision. Get in touch to learn more...