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How will the local authority assess my application?

Planning Permission

Knowing how local authorities assess applications is complicated, meaning few people have a detailed understanding of the planning processes.  There are copious rules and regulations that must be adhered to if a design is to get the go ahead.  Fortunately, our team have essential knowledge of the inner workings of local authority planning departments, absorbed whilst working for them in the past, and we use this ability to guide clients.  Because they were used to applying the policies while working for the authorities, they can now reduce the complexities of getting architect’s or builders’ plans approved. 

You should consider the following points when planning your dream home or extension.  By sharing this vital knowledge we can improve your likelihood of being granted planning permission

1. Impact on character

One important vital consideration is the impact your proposal will have on the character of the street. To assess this, a planning officer will look at the footprint of the project; the width, depth, and design of the project, and more. Your plans will potentially be evaluated against your council’s Residential Design Guidance and based on the planning officer’s intricate knowledge of the local area. Chances are they have worked on many applications in your street and will have a good idea of what is or isn’t acceptable. 

Although there are thousands of pages of planning policy, generally, planners will want an extension to be subordinate and smaller in terms of scale than the main house. In our experience, most planning applications are refused for character reasons due to the extension appearing overly dominant and out of scale with surrounding buildings. 

2. Impact on your neighbours

The impact on neighbours is a critical consideration, which is often overlooked by architects. Ignorance of the rights of local people can result in applications being refused. 

When assessing any potential impact on your neighbours, the two main considerations are outlook and light to gardens and rear-facing habitable room windows.  

The following rules apply to depth for a typical semi-detached house, in the majority of London boroughs. They should be a: 

  • Single storey rear extension (terraced house): 3m deep
  • Single storey rear extension (semi-detached house): 3.5m deep

It is considered that any extension that is larger than those described above might harm the living conditions of your neighbours. If this assumption is proved to be correct, it might take some creative design solutions to limit any impact for your planning permission to be granted. 

3. Impact on your living conditions

It is essential that any extensions provide you and your family with sufficient light and outlook. This means any new habitable rooms should benefit from the same levels of amenity as existing rooms. Any rooms within a basement, for example, should be non-habitable, such as cinemas or dining rooms. 

4. Trees & Listed Buildings

There are a wealth of other details to consider. One such detail includes the potential impact on trees. To make sure this is not an issue, one should check whether any Tree Preservation Orders may be impacted by your proposal. If you live in a conservation area or are about to undertake works on a listed building, the planning controls will be stricter.  You will need to take additional care to preserve the character of both the house and wider area. 

In our experience, many applications recommended for refusal could have been avoided. If all the issues had been identified and addressed at the start of the design process, the planning permission would have been given. This approach not only saves the expense of having to reapply for planning permission but also means you will be living in your dream house sooner. 

All of our professional consultants have previously worked for local authorities and have been on the other side of the approval process.  Contact us today, so we can ensure that you efficiently navigate the planning process. 

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