Planning permission: 6 tips to ensure your application runs smoothly

As a developer, one of the most important things you will need to do when starting a new project is to get planning permission for what you want to build - whether that's residential, commercial, or another type of property. There are a number of things any developer should consider when putting in a planning application - which is why we've put together six in depth tips to help you - whether you're a new developer, or an experienced one.

The planning application process can take anywhere from 8 weeks to months - and this time frame is completely dependent on whether you take all the necessary steps and make the process as clear and easy as possible for the Planning Officer who will be handling your application. Follow these six top tips, and we guarantee the process will be as smooth-sailing and quick as possible for your development.

#1 Research, and know the relevant policies

Every planning application has to go through the local authority of where the development will be built, and each of these authorities has a different set of local policies they follow as well as the national planning policies of the UK. Being aware of which policies apply to your development in the area where you are can ensure that you have all the relevant paperwork completed before sending in your application (and can save you wasting time getting anything done you don't need to). All of a local authorities' policies can be found on their website, and it's important to check you have all the relevant paperwork to cover these policies before submitting your application.

As standard procedure, a Planning Officer will take into account a number of issues when considering your application, therefore it's also important to consider anything that could require further information. These are mainly what's referred to as 'material planning considerations' and include things like: "loss of sunlight; noise or disturbance; capacity of physical infrastructure; effect on listed buildings and conservation areas; layout and density of building design and finishing materials; overlooking and loss of privacy; overshadowing and loss of outlook; smell or fumes; loss of effect on trees; incompatible or unacceptable uses, and; highway issues including traffic generation, vehicular access and highway safety" (Planning Portal).

#2: Use the correct terminology and 'jargon' in your application

Planning Officers use a lot of jargon when looking at applications, so using this industry terminology correctly can ensure that they fully understand what you want from your developments and what your application is actually for. "If your application is easy to read for the Planning Officer, then it's less likely to throw up any questions around clarity and can speed up the process, so phrasing is really important. Using buzz words such as 'sustainability', 'street scene' and 'access' will make a huge different to how your application will be perceived" (Platinum Property Partners).

Being specific about what your development will be is also important, even down to the smallest detail. It's essential that you are as accurate as possible on your application details, including with measurements, any information on extensions, and the effect on the surrounding neighbourhood (and people).

#3: Make sure your maps and designs are quality and accurate

A requirement of any planning application is accurate plans and designs of what your development and the plot will look like. The Planning Portal ( will be able to supply you with up-to-date and accurate maps. These aren't free of charge, however all councils will generally only charge a small fee. It's important that these maps are marked with the complete outline of your plot (not just the development itself) in red - any other colour will not be accepted.

It's also important that your architectural plans are accurate. Using a trusted architecture firm can help you get the best plans for your application, and ensure a quicker approval. "Good design can work wonders for you. Good design can help you increase your chances of getting the planning permission you want" - Ufuk Bahal, Urbanist Architecture.

#4: Be aware of how long the process takes

The application process can take anywhere up to 8 weeks to get approved, but it's important to note that this time frame doesn't start from the moment you submit your forms, but the moment at which the Planning Officer opens the case. "The planners are under real pressure to meet that timescale. The government has come up with a clever wheeze of effectively linking a council's performance to the financing of planning departments" (Planning Portal).

Some ways in which you can speed up this process include making sure you have all the relevant documents and that these are accurate, and also making sure all your files are in the correct format (and named clearly and obviously) for the Planning Officers to easily access them and know what they are. "Planning departments aren't the most tech-savvy, so it's always worth saving your Word documents in the 1997 - 2003 format or they may not upload to the Portal" (Platinum Property Partners).

#5: Talk to the people who will be involved or affected by your development

Whenever a planning application is put in, the local community is also able to give their opinions and voice any concerns they have. Some planning applications have been rejected due to the amount of negative feedback from neighbours. By making the neighbourhood, its businesses, and its residents aware of what your plans are for your development and what you think it could bring to the area can help with your approval. Introduce yourself to the local community and the Planning Officer in charge of your application - this could save you a lot of hassle and time ironing out concerns later down the road.

It's also important to introduce yourself to other agencies that will be able to help you in your application - namely architects, surveyors and archaeologists. "Your proposal may require flood risk assessments, tree surveys, archaeological investigations and any number of technical reviews" (Platinum Property Partners). By contacting these agencies ahead of time, you can make sure you are able to quickly complete your application and they can help prevent any technical issues that may undermine your proposal.

#6: Hire skilled professionals

One of the worst mistakes a developer can make is choosing to save money by not hiring a Property Consultant to assist with their application. While some experienced developers may have enough proficiency to be able to complete the application on their won, newer developers should take advantage of the services a consultant can offer. These consultants can be found in any multidisciplinary architecture firm that focuses on planning permission.

Ensure that you are choosing the right firm for you are your needs - every firm will have a speciality, whether that's commercial architecture, residential architecture, or other. Any firm you choose should: "collaborate well; communicate well; have 'know-how' expertise; have an impressive track record; pursue creation solutions, and; be a RIBA chartered architecture firm" (Planning Portal).

Now you've read our top 6 tips on submitting a planning application, you should have no issues getting your application approved in a timely manner without any back-and-forth due to missing information, inaccurate plans or concerns. If you're a developer and need advice and help selling your development, get in touch with our team today on +44 (0)161 302 6733 or

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