Last edited 27 Mar 2015

Detailed planning application

Planning permission is the legal process used to decide whether proposed developments should be allowed to go ahead.

The Department for Communities and Local Government decides national planning policy for England. National planning policy is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Responsibility for planning permission lies with local planning authorities (usually, the planning department of the district or borough council).

Before making a planning application it is important to check with the local planning authority; when planning meetings are held and what the procedures are.

Planning applications can be detailed or outline:

A detailed planning application might include:

Ownership certificates.

Notices to all owners of the application site.

Agricultural land declaration.


A location plan identifying:

  • The land to which the application relates, with the application site edged in red and adjoining land owned by the applicant edged in blue.
  • Roads and buildings on adjoining land.
  • Land required for access to the site.
  • Visibility of and from the site.
  • Landscaping.
  • Car parking.
  • Open areas.

A site plan which must show the direction of north, site boundaries and existing buildings on the site, and may show:

  • Buildings, roads and footpaths on adjoining land.
  • Public rights of way.
  • The position of trees.
  • Hard surfaces.
  • Boundary treatment.

A design and access statement explaining the principles behind the proposed design:

  • How much development is proposed. For residential development, this the number of units and for other developments, the proposed floor space for each proposed use.
  • Layout:
  1. The relationship between buildings and spaces within the site.
  2. Accessibility for users, such as travel distances and gradients.
  3. The impact of the layout on energy consumption and thermal comfort.
  4. Crime prevention measures.
  • Scale:
  1. The height, width and length of buildings and the reasons for particular heights.
  2. The size of key features of buildings such as entrances and facades.
  • Landscaping:
  1. The purpose of landscaping.
  2. Its relationship to the surrounding area.
  3. A schedule of planting and hard landscaping.
  • Appearance of the development:
  1. How it will relate to its surroundings.
  2. How the texture, contrast, tone and lighting of the site have been developed in relation to accessibility.
  • Context:
  1. How local context has influenced the design.
  2. Analysis of any consultation process and its influence on the development.
  • Use:
  1. Proposed uses of the site.
  2. Accessibility to and between these different uses and their relationship to surrounding sites.
  • Access (access to the development, not the internal accessibility of buildings):
  1. Access to buildings, spaces and transport.
  2. Results of any consultation.
  3. Access for emergency services if appropriate.

Once planning permission has been received, the client should advertise the main contracts for the development, if advertisement is considered the appropriate method for identifying potential tenderers or if it is required by OJEU procurement rules.

Permissions may be the subject of planning conditions, where, rather than refusing a planning application, a local planning authority might grant permission, but might for example restrict the use of the site or require additional approvals for specific aspects of the development. Permissions may also be subject to planning obligations (also known as Section 106 Agreements) which are used to mitigate or compensate for negative impacts of development that might otherwise make them unacceptable. Planning obligations should become less common with the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy.

If planning permission is refused, the applicant may lodge an appeal which will then usually be decided by an inspector acting for the Secretary of State.

Generally, construction of the development must begin within three years of the application being approved.

NB for detailed descriptions of the sequence of activities that should be undertaken in order to prepare and submit a planning application, see the free work plan stages:

[edit] Find out more

[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki

[edit] External references