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Last edited 25 Jul 2017
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).
Planning applications can be detailed or outline:
- Outline planning applications can be used to find out whether a proposed development is acceptable to the local planning authority, before substantial costs are incurred developing a detailed design. Outline planning applications allow the submission of outline proposals, the details of which may be agreed as “reserved matters” applications at a later stage.
- Detailed planning applications submit all the details of the proposed development at the same time.
A detailed planning application might include:
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.
- 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.
- The relationship between buildings and spaces within the site.
- Accessibility for users, such as travel distances and gradients.
- The impact of the layout on energy consumption and thermal comfort.
- Crime prevention measures.
- The height, width and length of buildings and the reasons for particular heights.
- The size of key features of buildings such as entrances and facades.
- The purpose of landscaping.
- Its relationship to the surrounding area.
- A schedule of planting and hard landscaping.
- Appearance of the development:
- How it will relate to its surroundings.
- How the texture, contrast, tone and lighting of the site have been developed in relation to accessibility.
- How local context has influenced the design.
- Analysis of any consultation process and its influence on the development.
- Proposed uses of the site.
- Accessibility to and between these different uses and their relationship to surrounding sites.
- Access (access to the development, not the internal accessibility of buildings):
- Access to buildings, spaces and transport.
- Results of any consultation.
- Access for emergency services if appropriate.
- Additional supporting information. NB The National Planning Policy Framework makes clear that there should be a presumption in favour of sustainable development. This should be reflected in design and access statements.
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:
- Traditional contract: planning permission.
- Design and build: planning permission (design by contractor).
- Design and build: planning permission (design by consultant team).
- Construction management: planning permission.
- Management contract: planning permission.
- Public project: planning permission.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Avoiding planning permission pitfalls.
- Community Infrastructure Levy.
- Consultation process.
- Design and access statements.
- How long does it take to get planning permission.
- How long does planning permission last.
- Outline planning application.
- National Planning Policy Framework.
- Neighbourhood planning.
- Planning appeal.
- Planning fees.
- Planning conditions.
- Planning obligations.
- Planning objection.
- Planning performance agreement.
- Planning permission.
- Pre-application advice.
- Statutory approvals.
- Statutory authorities.
- Town and Country Planning Act.
 External references
- For a detailed description of the requirements of planning applications see the Department for Communities and Local Government: Guidance on information requirements and validation.
- How long will it take to get planning permission? Department for communities and local government live tables on development control statistics.
- Planning Advisory Service. Helping councillors and local authority officers understand and respond to planning reform.
- The legislation, policy and guidance that underpins planning in England can be found on the government's National Planning Practice Guidance website.
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