How to Navigate the Planning Process

Obtaining planning permission for a domestic extension or alterations is a crucial step in any construction project. The process is governed by a set of regulations and guidelines aimed at ensuring that developments are in line with local planning policies, do not harm the environment, and consider the interests of the community. While it can at times be complicated, we will ensure that you are adequately advised throughout. In this guide, we will describe the various stages and intricacies of obtaining planning permission for a domestic extension in the UK.

Author: Mark Benzie

1. Pre-Application Stage

For more complicated proposals or those in sensitive settings such as Conservation Areas, National Parks or rural locations a pre-application discussion with the local planning authority (LPA) or a planning consultant can help. These discussions can provide valuable insights into local planning policies, potential issues with your project, and the likelihood of obtaining planning permission. We will advise whether the project would warrant this additional step and expense or whether we can proceed directly to the site assessment and design.

2. Site Assessment

Evaluate the current site conditions and how your proposed extension will fit within them. Consider factors such as the size and layout of your property, its proximity to neighbouring properties, and any environmental or heritage considerations. Often, the constraints of the site or the preferred location of the extension will be the main factor so should consider issues of scale, overshadowing and overlooking.

3. Design Development

We will collaborate with you to develop detailed design plans for your extension. These plans will include drawings, elevations, and a site plan that clearly illustrates the proposed changes to your property. Our approach is to design from the ‘inside out’ to ensure that the proposed layout provides an optimum layout that takes advantage of the best light, sunshine and any views. The exterior is then developed to suit whether it’s a contrasting modern design or a seamless addition.

4. Planning Application Submission

We prepare and submit your planning application to the LPA. The application should include all required documents, such as application forms, site plans, design drawings, and supporting statements that explain how your extension complies with planning policies. Our fees include all of the sundry forms and checklists the LPA will require. We will advise you if any additional arboricultural or environmental reports are needed and obtain quotes on your behalf.

5. Validation

Upon receiving your planning application, the LPA validates it to ensure that all necessary documents and fees are included. This validation process is essential to confirm that your application is complete and can proceed to the assessment stage.

6. Public Consultation

The LPA will initiate a public consultation period. This allows neighbours and the local community to provide feedback and express any concerns or objections they may have regarding your proposed extension. Objections from neighbours needn’t cause too much concern. While we advocate a friendly and flexible approach sometimes there is no pleasing everyone! However, planning objections must be on planning grounds and will be objectively assessed. We provide further information if necessary to demonstrate how concerns over a particular issue might be unfounded.

7. Site Visit and Assessment

Planning officers from the LPA may conduct site visits to assess how your proposed extension fits into the local context. They consider factors such as design, scale, materials, and how the extension may affect neighbouring properties. These visits are usually routine with any feedback coming after the officer has been able to reflect on their visit.

8. Compliance with Planning Policies

The LPA evaluates your application against local planning policies and guidelines. They assess whether your proposed extension complies with these policies in terms of land use, design quality, environmental sustainability and impact on neighbours’ amenity.

9. Consultation with Statutory Bodies

The LPA consults with various statutory bodies, such as highway authorities and environmental agencies, to ensure that your extension meets relevant regulations. This may include assessments related to transportation, flood risk, and environmental impact. For most extensions this proposal will be a formality and unlikely to uncover significant issues.

10. Planning Officer Recommendation

Based on the assessment of your application, the planning officer responsible for your case will make a recommendation to approve, refuse, or request modifications to your proposed extension. This recommendation is presented to the planning committee or a delegated authority for a decision. If they are unable to recommend approval, most LPAs will contact us to discuss modifications or withdrawal and resubmission. We are quite skilled at amending proposals to overcome objections while retaining the project priorities.

11. Planning Committee Review

In some cases, planning applications are reviewed by a planning committee composed of local councillors. They make decisions based on the planning officer’s recommendation and may take into account public input and objections. Most applications for extensions are dealt with under delegated powers and so it’s unlikely your permission will be decided by the committee.

12. Decision Notification

You will receive a decision notice from the LPA, indicating whether your planning application has been approved or refused. If approved, the notice may include conditions that must be adhered to during construction and occupancy. If refused, we will advise on what alterations are needed. When pursuing ambitious proposals it can sometimes take a bit more effort and strategic thinking to secure the necessary approval. Our sensitive approach to planning issues ensures that we rarely need to go to such lengths to secure approval, but won’t be a pushover if it does come to more demanding proposals!

13. Compliance with Conditions

If your planning permission is subject to conditions, it’s important to ensure that you comply with them. These conditions could relate to the design, materials, landscaping, or any other aspect of the extension.

14. Appeals and Disputes

If your planning application is refused or approved with unfavourable conditions, you have the right to appeal the decision through the planning inspectorate. We work in our own right or with skilled planning consultants to undertake planning appeals. Typically, 1 in 3 appeals are successful which is a significant proportion of refusals to be overturned.

15. Future Modifications

If you plan further modifications or extensions in the future, you will need to go through the planning permission process again. If you are planning future changes or phased work then it can be better to include this all in the original application rather than having additional local authority application fees. While a planning permission only lasts for three years, once started it becomes ‘extant’ and you can take as long as you like to implement later phases.


In summary, obtaining planning permission for a domestic extension in the UK is a complex but structured process that ensures your proposed development aligns with local planning policies and regulations. Domestic extensions rarely present any significant issues during the planning process. By understanding and navigating this process effectively, we will ensure your project complies with all relevant requirements and regulations and passes smoothly through the process.

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