House Extension - The Planning Department and What They Do.
Most home extensions require formal Planning Consent irrespective of the revised
permitted development rules that came into force in October 2008.
Even if a house extension scheme can be built under PD without formal Planning Permission most homeowners should
still contact their local Planning Department to obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development to secure a legally
binding document. If you engage your own house extension building designer then they can handle this for you as
Therefore, contact with the Councils Planning Department will usually be required for most house extension
scheme so you need to understand what they do and the powers they have.
Many homeowners see the Planners as the ‘anti-Christ’ of fairness and personal freedoms due to a previous
unsatisfactory outcome for a home extension scheme. On the other side of the fence many neighbours of a building
owner see the planners with the same venom when they have approved an extension that they think affects their
outlook or loss of light. The Planners are often found wandering between a rock and a hard place due to their
This is attack on their usefulness and necessity is unfair and far from the mark. Without them restricting and
controlling development to some degree we would all be living in shanty-towns and ghettos by now so on balance they
do a great job in my opinion.
However, that’s not to say that they do not sometimes unduly use their powers unfairly for
some schemes which can often be influenced by a whole host of other so called specialists who are consulted on your
The Planning Department have to exercise an ‘on balance approach’ by using very wordy documents full of jargon
called planning policy & other design guides which have exploded in recent years. Rather than using individual
opinions they have to use these policy documents as a framework in determining whether or not a house extension is
acceptable. But this is not an exact science and many situations become judgement calls based on very subjective
Most of the time the Planners do get it right. If a homeowner feels aggrieved by a refusal of planning
permission at least they have the right to appeal to a higher authority within a reasonable time limit. One in
three appeals are overturned in favour of the applicant as a national average.
Most local Planning Authorities will make a decision on your home extension scheme within 8 weeks. There are
moves to accelerate this period down to 6 weeks.
Employing a home extension building design agent will ensure that your scheme is properly presented and will
complete the necessary application forms for you and write the Design and Access Statement.