If you have decided that you wish to go ahead with your planned extension or modification to your property then you must decide whether you need to apply for planning permission. Check out the Planning Permission and Listed Buildings & Conservation Areas sections on this site for general guidelines.

If you believe you need planning permission, then contact your local council planning department for advice. They should be able to tell you whether or not you do need permission before progressing you building work. If they advise you that permission is required, ask then for a Planning Application form. Ask them how many copies of the application they wish to receive and also how much they charge. Local Authority householder planning application fees are standard and currently cost £150 in England and £166 in Wales.

You will also need to submit plans of the proposed extension. Again, several copies may be required and they must be at a specified scale, often 1:50 or 1:100. Site plans, normally at 1:500 and 1:1250 will be required by the council to give them an accurate idea of where the property is situated. Boundaries of the property must be clearly marked on these maps in red. Some councils have arrangements with Ordnance Survey to provide these documents at a small charge, though you can contact Ordnance Survey directly to obtain these maps.

How the Council Processes Applications

The council should acknowledge receipt of your application within a couple of days of receiving them. They will then publish your application onto the Register of Planning Applications that the Council is legally required to maintain and make available for public inspection. These applications are then publicised to the relevant people and organisations. This will most likely include your neighbours, which is why it is a very good idea to inform you neighbours of your planned extension.

Council Building

To ensure the application is thoroughly assessed a planning officer will visit your property to check out the proposed positioning of the extension and to ensure that the plans submitted match the current layout of the property.

At this stage representations made by interested parties will be considered. This is done by the planning officer who co-ordinates all relevant information and prepares a report on the application and how it should be determined. If the application is straight forward and not controversial the Chief Planning Officer may be able to determine the result of a planning application.

How Long Does the Process Take


As a guideline, the council should decide your application within eight weeks. If it cannot do so, it will usually seek your written consent to extend the period. If, after the end of the eight week period, you have not heard from the council either giving/refusing consent or asking for an extension, you can appeal to the Secretary of State for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. But appeals can take several months to decide and it may be quicker to reach agreement with the council.


Where appropriate, the Council is able to impose conditions on your planning permission which may limit or control the way the development can be implemented. Some conditions need to be discharged prior to any work commencing and these should be formally discharged with your local authority.

You may need therefore to complete another application for a discharge of conditions and a local authority fee of £25 per application will be required (for householder applications) – so if you have several conditions that need discharging they should all be done at the same time.

Refusal of Permission

What can you do if your planning application is turned down? A council must give sound planning reasons when refusing planning permission or imposing a condition. Council staff will be happy to explain these reasons or conditions if they are not clear. It is probably worth discussing with the council whether making changes to your plans will affect the outcome of the application. A modified application can often be submitted free of charge within 12 months of a refusal being made.


If you think your application has been unfairly treated by the council, you can make an appeal to the Secretary of State. Any appeals must be made within 12 weeks of the date of the council’s notice of decision. Two free booklets ‘Making your planning appeal’ and ‘Guide to taking part in planning appeals’ are available from the Planning Inspectorate, Customer Support Unit, Room 3/15 Eagle Wing, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6PN.

Appeals are intended as a last resort and they can take several months to decide; however a householder appeal fast track is now in operation to help speed up this process. It is often quicker to discuss with the council whether changes to your proposal would make it more acceptable.

You may wish to employ a planning professional to undertake planning appeals for you as they must be appealed on planning merits, based on the reasons for refusal and not on personal gain.

Visit the Planning Inspectorate website for more information.

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