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A beginner’s guide to planning permission

If you’re thinking of doing some work to your home, or you want to carry out some building work, you might need permission. Here is everything you will need to know to get started.

If you already know you need permission or you already know how it works, check out our pages about getting your application underway.


Do you need planning permission?

The best place to start is the Planning Portal.  It is an independent website that explains everything you need to know about planning permission. It includes:

How long will it take?

We aim to make a decision on other and minor applications within eight weeks, and major applications within 13 weeks or 16 weeks if they include an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Further information is available on this government webpage

Here’s a quick explanation of what we mean by major and minor applications.

Major Development

  • 10+ dwellings / over half a hectare / building(s) exceeds 1000m²
  • Office / light industrial – 1000+ m² / 1+ hectare
  • General industrial – 1000+ m² / 1+ hectare
  • Retail – 1000+ m²/ 1+ hectare
  • Site area exceeds 1 hectare

Minor Development

  • 1-9 dwellings (unless floorspace exceeds 1000m² / under half a hectare
  • Office / light industrial – up to 999 m²/ under 1 hectare
  • General industrial – up to 999 m²/ under 1 Hectare
  • Retail – up to 999 m²/ under 1 hectare

Other Development

  • Householder applications
  • Change of use (no operational development)
  • Adverts
  • Listed building extensions / alterations
  • Listed building demolition
  • Application for relevant demolition of an unlisted building within a Conservation Area
  • Certificates of Lawfulness (191 and 192)
  • Notifications
  • Permissions in Principle (PiP) and Technical Detail Consent (TDC)

How much does it cost?

It depends on what kind of application you need to make – there is a fee calculator on the Planning Portal. The government sets the fees and you can pay for your application online through the Planning Portal.

Some larger applications will mean you have to pay something known as Community Infrastructure Levy, or CIL. This is not normally the case for household improvements, unless you’re planning an entirely new building.  You can find out more about the Community Infrastructure Levy here.

Who else will be involved?

We will write to your neighbours and invite them to comment on your application. Sometimes we will display a notice where the work is due to take place.  Depending on the application, we will invite comments from organisations like the Environment Agency, the county council, your local parish council and English Heritage.

What else do you need to consider?

Here are some other things that might mean you have to put in a different kind of application, or might affect your chances of getting permission.

  • To make sure your proposal has the best chance of being approved, please use our Design Guide.
  • Check to see if you’re in a conservation area or if your building is listed, using our interactive map – read this page to find out how it might affect your application.
  • If you’re planning to do any work that affects trees, read this page about trees that are protected.
  • You’ll also need to consider the impact of your proposed development on local wildlife – this includes their habitat and species protected by law.  Please visit our wildlife page for more information.