How Long Does Planning Permission Take?
On average planning permission takes around 20 weeks following the pandemic, practically doubling the previous average of 8-12 weeks, which is still maintained on the Planning Portal website. This is largely down to massive backlogs, but also due to the increase in home renovation works as more people look into improving their homes.
As with every subject or process, however, there is also a degree of uncertainty. Different types of planning applications can of course take less time, or more, in some cases too. Likewise, the authority you work with, as well as the architectural professional and the type of project you’re working on all impact this time too.
To get a better understanding of the time that it will take to get planning permission granted for your project, it helps to break down the subject, process and timeline.
Type of Application
Homeowner planning applications are the most commonly referred to application, and where we’re focussing in this article. This is where the 20-week average is coming from post COVID-19, and where the previous 8-12 week average services too.
Full Planning Applications
Used for: New Builds, Major Sites, Commercial (large Projects)
As well as homeowner planning applications, however, there are multiple other types of planning applications as well. Full planning applications are a more advanced type of application, covering more projects than a homeowner application would. As a result, the larger projects that go through this medium are often much more complex. The approval process takes longer, often involves a committee, and can take up to 25 weeks in the current climate (although used to average at 13 weeks).
Used for: Small Extensions, Loft Conversions (Small Projects)
Smaller applications, however, like a permitted development enquiry or a prior notice enquiry, is dramatically smaller. These applications mean that planning permission is not actually required, and instead, you’re using your permitted development rights to make smaller alterations to your property. For slightly larger projects, prior notice means you can place notices around the project site, and if there are no objections made, you can build bigger than you would under basic permitted development.
These applications may take 8 weeks in the current climate, previously only taking 3-4 weeks.
Extensions of Time
Another area impacting the time it takes to gain planning permission is the use of extensions of time. An extension of time can be requested at any point during the planning process. It is exactly what it sounds like; the local authority requesting more time before they provide a decision. This can be done as many times as needed and is usually used to account for backlogs, delays, or anything else required.
In the same way, however, architectural professionals and homeowners alike can also do the same. Should there be an issue or some kind of delay in meeting conditions or liaising with planning, it’s also possible to request an extension of time from the planning authority too.
In some planning application cases, the local authority will add conditions to the approval of an application., If these conditions are met, then planning is valid, if they are not, then it is not. Although this simple concept can of course help in the building process and prevent unnecessary delays caused by rejections, it does also still slow the process.
This is only because a conditional approval means that it is often possible that your architect or builder will have extra, unforecasted work. There will be changes that need to be made on the drawings of the building, and then these changes will need to be reviewed by the local authority. More often than not, this is done through a visit to the completed build., which tends to add an extra week or two to the process all in all.
The Planning Process
In addition to understanding the variables in how long it takes to get planning permission, it’s also vital to understand the process as a whole, even briefly. Generally, it can be categorised into four stages, hopefully never reaching the fourth.
Stage 1: Submission
The first step in the journey is with the submission of the planning application> Whether you need initial designs, planning drawings, a planning consultant, or specific preliminary work, this stage of the process tends to take 1-2 weeks from start to finish until an application is ready to be made. The fees are then paid, and all moves forward.
Stage 2: Validation
Next up, the application has to be validated. This is where the local authority check the application and ensure everything is up to scratch, any missing info or potential problems are outlined and addressed, or should all be well, the application will be validated. A decision date is then given, showing a rough estimate of when planning permission will be granted. From submission to validation, this takes up to 2 weeks typically, or up to 4 with a backlog.
Stage 3: Decision
The decision stage is what can take anywhere up to 16 weeks. The average is still around 10, but it can change easily depending on a range of factors. Extensions of time also influence this massively and can be used as required by all parties. Once you have your decision however you can then move on to your build. It may also be refused or given conditions however, which may delay the process completion.
Stage 4: Appeal
If for whatever reason a planning application is denied, it’s also possible to appeal the decision. This can be done if you feel the decision is incorrect, or if the decision took more than 8 weeks from the decision date (without extensions of time).
An appeal can take anywhere from a few weeks even through to months again, and can only be done within 12 weeks of the decision date for a homeowner application, or within 6 months of a full planning application.
All in all, the planning application process can really vary in the length of time it takes. It depends on the type of project, any complications that crop up, and extra information required, like bat or newt surveying, conservation areas, trees, and just about anything else that you can think of.
Combining this with the efficiency and the workload of the local authority that you are working with, and the possibilities really do expand massively in terms of what you can expect to wait.
For more advice on any planning related question, contact the CK Team today and we’ll do everything that we can do help.