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planning permission

Written By:
Myles Robinson - Expert Finance Advisor

Posted: Feb 6, 2023

Planning permission

People can find it difficult to obtain planning permission, as many people have problems with their local planning authority, whether trying to finance a self-build, buy a home without an approved home extension, or work within the confines of a conservation zone.

This article will explain the basics of planning applications and their implications for buying land or properties.

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What is planning permission?

Planning permission, which is essentially a written building regulations approval from your local authority (often your council) for a proposed development of a building project. Many factors can affect whether or not planning permission is granted. We’ll go into more detail.

Planning permission is required for a proposed development to build new properties, modify existing property or make significant changes (e.g. You will need planning permission to build a new property, make significant changes to the existing property (i.e. an extension), or change the exterior appearance or use of an existing building.

How can you tell if you require planning permission?

The local planning authority usually sets the rules for the planning system. Ask them if you have any questions.

It is your responsibility to make sure you ask the right questions. You could end up in serious trouble if you go ahead with a project without permission. You may even have to cancel all work! The law enforces planning permission.

What is permitted development?

Also called ‘permitted Development Rights’, as the name might suggest, permitted development refers to work that does not require a planning permission application.

A small conservatory built in your garden is permitted development. Loft conversions are not allowed.

Despite all that, it is essential to remember that some regions of the country have stricter rules regarding permitted development.

You might have to request permission to do projects in conservation areas, national parks, or other natural beauty areas.

Listed buildings have their restrictions regardless of where they are located. The interior and contents of a building can be subject to restrictions, which can make mortgages for listed buildings more complicated.

What are the various types of planning permissions?

There are two types: ‘full’ or ‘outline’.

Full permission means approval of the exact plans that you plan to use to construct your project. Full permission includes detailed architectural blueprints, drainage details, highway access, and the site’s appearance. This allows the planning authority to understand what you are planning. It is usually more costly and takes longer.

As you might imagine, outline permission allows you to give a brief description of the work you are planning. This is faster, more cost-effective, and less detailed. It also allows local authorities to see your plans. This ensures that any objections or concerns are addressed quickly, avoiding the costly (and very real) necessity to “go back to the drawing boards”.

You can sometimes complete a project with only outline permission. But you will need full permission for more extensive and more complicated projects.

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What is the difference between “planning permission” and “building regulations approval?”

Anyone serious about researching planning permission should also be familiar with building regulations. These regulations apply to all situations, even where you don’t require planning permission.

Building regulations are rules designed to make buildings safe and secure. These regulations include the requirement for accessibility for people with disabilities, energy efficiency, and structural integrity.

These regulations are enforced by your local Building Control Body, which is often your local council. A Building Control Application is a request for building regulation approval.

On the other hand, planning permission is intended to direct the development of a whole region – such as buildings and landscapes that fit in with the natural environment and architecture.

How to apply for planning permission

Online applications for building control and planning permission can be made through the Planning Portal.

What can I do to get planning permission help?

Yes. To a certain degree, your planning authority must provide all information required to apply. However, if you need to meet with them regarding the matter, they may charge for a consultation.

A registered planning consultant is another option, though it can be costly. The RTPI maintains this list of consultants and offers a low/no-cost service through the Planning Aid network.

It is possible to have someone else apply for planning permission (e.g. your solicitor). However, this may incur additional fees.

Before buying, check that you have the planning permission.

This will depend on how organised your local planning authority is. You can usually check the status of an application on the website of your local planning authority or call them.

This will allow you to see where it is in the process, and if it has been rejected, you can see why. This valuable information can help you avoid repeating the mistakes of others later.

This might not be a problem if the property or land was previously denied permission. Instead, take a look at why permission was prohibited. You may be able to propose a design the planning authority would like.

Keep in mind that the property seller may have done unauthorised work. This could make it a little more difficult for you to search and alert authorities.

Planning permission is not required for the purchase of a house.

It is doubtful that a house would come on the market without planning permission. The planning authority would have intervened long before the house was finished.

The scenario below is typical: a property has undergone additional work without planning permission.


A house was bought without planning permission after some work was done.

It is not unusual to find records of work done without permission in conveyancing searches.

You can’t buy a house without permission to extend it.

Buying a house with an extension without the required planning permission is not unusual. Let us show you how.

You could apply for permission if the work were completed more than four years ago.

In many cases, if it has been less than four years, it is reasonable for the seller to obtain indemnity insurance on your behalf. It’s not fair that you have to pay for the product because they technically broke the rules. This could also be used as a bargaining chip to negotiate a lower cost.

Some buyers condition their purchase on the obtaining of planning permission. This can cause delays and inconvenience for sellers.

Contact us if you are interested in buying a house with an extension without planning permission. Our expert advisors will help you to understand your options and protect you from potential pitfalls.

Without planning permission, buying a house that has a conservatory

Another one that people worry about is conservatories. However, they don’t often require planning permission if they are small enough.

You can use the same approach for unauthorised extensions if you find one that was not built with them.

Without planning permission, buying a house with a loft conversion

A loft conversion does not require planning permission if the house’s exterior is unchanged. Planning permission is required if the loft expands beyond certain limits. This includes lofts that exceed 40 cubic meters in a terrace house and 50 in semi-detached houses. It applies if extensions are beyond the roofline, balconies, platforms, etc.

Is it possible to apply for planning permission before purchasing a house

Yes. However, you don’t have to own the property to make an application but if the sale fails, however, you will not be able to get your money back, and before you buy, notify the owner.

It’s smart to apply for planning permission before purchasing if you are serious about the property as the application process can be lengthy.

You can buy a piece of land without permission.

It’s easy to buy land without permission. A lot of this land is available for sale at a fair price.

It is not easy to get planning permission for the land which would allow you to build on it. This can be a lengthy and complicated process.

If you are serious about buying land for your home, it is crucial to start applying immediately.


Can I get a mortgage for land without planning permission?

Residential mortgages can only be granted for legal habitable items (which does not include land without planning permission). Commercial mortgages can only be given for items where a business requires financing.

Instead, you might be interested in development financing, enabling you to develop the land and secure planning permission before remortgaging to a commercial or residential property.

Land without planning permission can be more costly because potential lenders may view it as a risky investment. A specialist lender may be necessary.

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If you buy land without permission, an “option” could be used.

When buying a plot, some buyers purchase what is known as an “option”. This option allows the buyer to buy a plot at a specified price and date.

This permits the buyer to go through all the necessary planning permission processes (including appeals if required) to ensure that the land can be used as intended.

This option could take years to complete and can cost a lot, depending on the length of the process.

This is something that you should seriously consider. You might need to get legal advice.

Planning permission is required for land purchase

Although land with residential planning permission can be more costly, it is usually easier to obtain. This is because planning permission costs are included in the total price of the land.

You can buy the land and the right to build the plan approved by your authority. If you are building something significantly different from what was agreed, you don’t need to apply for permission.

You will need to apply again for planning permission if you make any changes to the plan.

Can I get a mortgage on land with planning permission?

Yes. Provided you meet the affordability criteria. A mortgage on land with planning permission can be obtained – although it will likely be slightly different than a traditional residential or buy-to-let mortgage.

A self-build mortgage is a good option for building a home. This loan is released as you go through the build process.

You get the first round when you put the foundations. The next comes when you finish the roof. And the final when your house is declared habitable.

The market for self-build mortgages has become smaller and requires specialist lenders. Click the link below to begin your journey.

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Planning permission is not easy, but experts are available to help.

Click the link below if you are looking for a mortgage or contact us today for expert advice on planning permission for your current or new home.

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