Planning permission - Decision issues - Application taken too long
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- Planning permission is required for new-building development, but a number of types of work are covered under permitted development
- If you have undertaken work without permission, you can appeal. If your appeal is unsuccessful you will be required to return the property to its original state
- You can appeal the decision by approaching the Planning Inspectorate
- Planning permission should be granted or rejected within eight weeks, but can take up to 13 weeks
- Remember that you will also need Building Control for building work
- These rights apply to England and Wales
The planning process
If you intend to undertake building work, the owner of the property is responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations. If you do not follow the regulations, you will be liable for the remedial action. It is good idea to contact your local planning department to get advice on whether you require planning permission or not. A number of developments can be undertaken without the need for planning permission in England and Wales under permitted development rights.
Beginning a planning application
On receipt of a planning application, the LPA (Local Planning Authority) will check it to determine whether it’s complete. Once a planning application has been received, accompanied by all the necessary information, it will be validated; the LPA will then begin the determination process.
Most minor and small-scale applications should be validated within three to five working days from the date of receipt. Major applications should be validated within 10 working days.
The decision process
Most planning applications are decided within eight weeks, unless they are unusually large or complex; in this case the time limit is extended to 13 weeks.
If the LPA cannot decide your application within eight weeks, it should obtain your written permission to extend the period. If it has not done so, you can appeal to the First Secretary of State.
If the local planning authority turns down your application, or allows it but only subject to conditions that you find unacceptable, you can appeal to a Planning Inspector. An appeal is also permitted on the grounds of 'non-determination', when the local planning authority fails to determine the application within the relevant timeframe. An appeal should be considered a last resort, however.
What if the decision is refused or delayed?
If the authority refuses permission or imposes conditions, you should receive details of the reasons in writing. If you are unhappy or unclear about the reasons for refusal or the conditions imposed, you should speak to staff at the local authority planning department. Ask them whether changing your plans might make a difference. If your application has been refused, you might be able to submit another modified application free of charge within 12 months of the decision on your first application.
Alternatively, you could consider appealing to the First Secretary of State. You can also appeal if the local authority does not issue a decision within eight weeks (known as non-determination), unless you have agreed in writing to an extension of that period.
If you appeal, your application will be out of the authority's hands. Appeals take several months to decide. The deadline for submitting an appeal is six months from the date of the application decision letter; or in the case of non-determination, six months from the date that the decision should have been made.
The government allows you to undertake some improvements to your home without the need for planning permission: this is called permitted development. The rules are different for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Permitted development looks at all developments made to your home or the property since 1948; so when considering whether you require planning permission you will need to take into account all development work on the property since then.
What improvements can I make under permitted development?
Under the 2013 rules, the ‘original’ (as it stood in, or prior to, 1948) rear wall of a detached home can be extended (subject to the neighbour-consultation scheme) by up to eight metres in depth with a single-storey extension; this is reduced to six metres if you live in a semi-detached or terraced property. If your proposed extension will be within two metres of a boundary, the height of the eaves is limited to three metres under permitted development. Otherwise, a single-storey rear extension must be no taller than four metres.
If you hope to build a two-storey extension (that is no higher than the house), it can project up to three metres from the original rear wall, as long as it is at least seven metres from the rear boundary. No extension can project beyond, or be added to, what is deemed to be the front of the house, or an elevation that affronts the highway. A side extension cannot make up more than half of the width of your house.
With the exception of conservatories, new extensions must be built of materials ‘similar in appearance’ and with the same roof pitch as the main house.
If planning permission is required
If you require planning permission, you can make an application to your local council. You will have to pay a fee for this, which is often a few hundred pounds. It is likely that the council will expect you to display a notice outside the property announcing the development; this allows the public to comment on your plans.
Appealing a planning decision
If you wish to appeal a planning decision in England, you should refer your case to the Planning Inspectorate; its inspectors will reassess your case. They will not gather additional information from you, but will take into consideration all of the information provided by your council and any site inspection that they undertake. An appeal can take up to 23 weeks to resolve.
You can appeal in a number of cases, including if you are:
- Refused planning permission;
- Granted permission, but you object to the conditions imposed;
- Refused approval on something that was permitted under a previous planning process;
- Not given a decision within the deadline;
- Or served with an enforcement notice that you disagree with.
The Planning Inspectorate can overturn the decision of your local council.
If you undertake development without planning permission, this is called a breach. A breach can occur when:
- A development that requires planning permission is undertaken without the permission being granted, either because the planning application was refused or was never applied for;
- Or a development that has been given permission subject to conditions breaks one or more of those conditions.
A planning breach in itself is not illegal, and the council will often permit a retrospective application where planning permission has not been sought. However, if the breach involves a previously rejected development (or the retrospective application fails), the council can issue an enforcement notice.
When deciding if there is a breach, the council will consider whether the development would unacceptably affect public amenities or the existing use of land and buildings, therefore meriting protection in the public interest.
It is illegal to disobey an enforcement notice unless you have successfully appealed against it.
Appealing a planning decision
Appeals for England and Wales are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate. You will need to export your Resolver case file and upload the information to the Planning Inspectorate website by visiting this link. The Inspectorate will undertake an independent inspection for free.
If the council’s processes were incorrect
If you feel that the issue of the planning application breach has not been correctly dealt with by your council, you have the right to challenge the decision with the Local Government Ombudsman. This only applies to complaints about council policies and the way a case was handled, rather than about any decision made.
If you would like additional information on planning enforcement, take a look at the relevant information leaflet from the Local Government Ombudsman.
(Information correct as of April 2015)
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