Last edited 03 May 2021

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:

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

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

  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.
  1. The purpose of landscaping.
  2. Its relationship to the surrounding area.
  3. A schedule of planting and hard landscaping.
  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.
  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:

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