Sometimes people get very agitated about the need for Planning Permission and it can make them think twice about proceeding with their project. But don't be put off, at the end of the day the Planning Process should just be a way of establishing the legality of your proposals and ensuring that they don't detrimentally affect your neighbours or the environment.

It is worth bearing in mind that all Local Authorities produce local development plans where they set out in some detail the policies they will use to consider the merits of Planning Applications submitted to them. These policies are also based upon guidance from Central Government, so there should be a degree of consistency from one local authority to another.

Traditionally it was always said that “the presumption should be in favour of development”, in other words all applications should be viewed positively unless there are good policy reasons to refuse them. It's a bit like being innocent until proven guilty, rather than vice versa.

So even if you need Planning Permission it doesn't mean you will struggle to obtain it. Planning Permission is needed because we all share the environment in which we live and it is important to make sure that people aren't disadvantaged by your proposals.

When your application is submitted there is a consultation period during which your immediate neighbours will be invited to comment on the proposals, as will statutory undertakers such as the highways authority.

If there are objections to your proposals, that doesn't mean the end of your dreams, so don't panic!

Objections have to be valid in planning terms, so just because a neighbour doesn't want to see your extension, does not mean that the Planners will refuse it.

It is worth while trying to get your neighbours on board before the Planning Application is even submitted, or certainly advise them of the application before the council does. Keeping on good terms with your neighbours, and they with you, makes the world a much more pleasant place and being conscious of the anxiety that the prospect of building works in close proximity to their property can cause other people is important.

A Planning Application is normally decided within about 8 weeks, though this can be extended by agreement with the Planning Department if there are matters which can be resolved to everyones satisfaction but time is needed to carry out the necessary amendments.

Most Applications are decided under the Council's delegated powers, where the department themselves formulate and issue the decision, but sometimes on particularly contentious applications, or where arguments are finely balanced, it may be put to the local area Planning Committee which is made up of elected local councilors.

The Planning department will make a recommendation to the committee and you as the applicant, or your representative, will be allowed to address the committee for three minutes setting out your case for the application to be allowed.

It is rare that the committee will go against the departments recommendation, but it can be useful if the pros and cons are balanced or if there are some other extenuating circumstances which make the development in the public interest even if it runs contrary to stated policy.

Ultimately, if you are unhappy with the Council's decision, you have a right to appeal to the Government and they will appoint an inspector who will take arguments from both sides and adjudicate on the issues. This really is a last resort, so it is always best to try to negotiate a resolution with the local Planning Authority rather than dig in and go to appeal.

So, you've got Planning Permission, what's next?

Obtaining Planning Permission for your project can appear to be a daunting task. There are forms to be filled out and fees to be paid and, most likely, plans which need to be produced showing what it is that you would like to do with your property.

Of course, not all work requires Planning Permission. Most properties come with 'Permitted Development' rights, which means that you can do certain things without the need to apply for permission from your local authority.

At the most basic level, permitted development rights allow you to put up garden fences, erect a shed or even build some extensions, but all within certain constraints on size and proximity to other properties.

Also, some properties have no permitted development rights, such as listed buildings, buildings within conservation areas and buildings where those rights have been specifically withdrawn under the original Planning Permission for that particular development.

Information about your permitted development rights can be found at the government's online Planning Portal

What follows is a brief, concise but hopefully informative and helpful guide to construction and some of the rules which govern it in the UK.

It's not intended to be a definitive account, but if you are thinking of altering or extending your home, or maybe even having a new house built for yourself, but you have no experience of undertaking such work then I hope that you will find this and the next few pages to be useful.

So, you want to have some building work done, what's the first step?

Well, for many people, the first thing they do is contact a builder and get them to come and have a look and discuss the practicality of what is required and also the possible costs.

But in many cases the builder can't really help at this stage because there are some hurdles we must jump before any work can take place and these will require a bit of paperwork!

 D L D S Architecture & Planning