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Planning Permission

After securing a plot, you’ll need to apply for planning permission for your new home.

Planning Permission for A Self Build


Planning permission, as the term suggests, is permission to build on a plot of land. Every building project needs planning permission before construction can begin, and you’ll either need to apply for it before or after purchasing the land you plan to build on. Planning permission can sometimes come with the plot you’ve purchased.

In this article, we’re taking a detailed look at all things planning permission to guide you through this crucial step in the self building process.

Do you need planning permission for a self build?

Planning permission is mandatory if you’re building a new structure, replacing an old one, making significant changes to an existing one or changing the use of a building. Without a formal consent, your project will be something of a non-starter.

It’s possible that your plot will come with planning permission, but this isn’t always the case, so it’s important to carefully research the plot before you purchase it and proceed with your self build project. You can find a clearer answer about your planning submission requirements on websites such as Planning, or your local planning authority’s (LPAs) website. These websites will tell you what you need to include in your planning permission application, which can reduce delays during the process, not least as many LPAs will not register your submission without certain key documents such as a tree survey or drainage report.

Finding a plot of land to build on can be a daunting task, which is why we’ve written a guide to finding land for a self build project - you can read it here.

How to get planning permission for a self build?

Your local planning authority is responsible for granting planning permission. Once you have done all the necessary research, you’ll need to complete your application and contact the planning authority to proceed. Proceeding without planning permission can lead to an enforcement notice being served, which means you may need to undo any building work you’ve done. You are not advised to take this approach!

Creating a successful application

Your planning submission must be as detailed as possible. The more detail the planning authority has to go on, the quicker they can make a decision and the more clarity you’ll have on what you can and can’t do with your project.


Thorough research is vital. One of the most helpful pieces of research you can do is to look at relevant permissions that have been granted around your site. Your local planning authority’s website should have details of previously approved local applications, so you can read through some of these to get an idea of what is likely to be approved and the documents / reports needed in that area. You can learn just as much from refused schemes as approved ones.

You should also research local and national planning policies, as this can help you shape your application and avoid any pitfalls that might hamper your proposals.


Your application needs drawings, and detailed ones at that. It’s best to use an experienced, professional designer or architect to take care of the drawings for you, as they’ll be able to depict your plans precisely and include all relevant details and measurements to meet your local planning authority’s requirements.


Your planning application will be evaluated against various criteria, and it’s important that you’ve prepared sufficient evidence and research to satisfy those requirements. Planning authorities will consider your project’s impact on the environment and the wildlife in the area, its sustainability and more. You must include detailed reports on all of the required factors to avoid delays to your application or outright rejection.

Pre-application advice

There’s a lot to consider when you’re preparing your planning application, and it’s important that you have everything in order before you proceed. Let’s take a look at what and who you may need to give your application the best chance of success.

Who can help?

While there are some parts of your application that you can do yourself, we highly recommend getting professional assistance for certain aspects. From high-quality, detailed drawings to in-depth sustainability reports, using professional consultants will ensure your application is completed to the highest standard.

Planning consultant

A planning consultant will have an in-depth understanding of planning policies and how to deliver a project that satisfies the various criteria of planning authorities. A consultant can also provide you with a site evaluation and a planning strategy which could involve a few steps in achieving your objective. The higher quality the initial assessment and strategy the quicker the approval process can be, and the quicker you can move forward with your project. Look for the “MRTPI” designation after the consultant’s name.


You’ll need to submit detailed drawings for your planning application, and a chartered Architect is the person to do that for you. Your architect can also help with the reports: sustainability, environmental, flood risk assessments and more. Experienced Architects will know what to include in the drawings to ensure they are sufficiently detailed and are invaluable in the next step of the process; detailed construction drawings.

The National Self Build & Renovation Centre

We have a wealth of resources that can help you prepare yourself for your planning application. From guides and articles to our courses, workshops and shows, we’re here to give you everything you need to learn all you need to learn.

Why not attend our Ask an Architect workshop run in conjunction with RIBA and gain valuable insight that’ll stand you in good stead for your own self build journey.

Factors to consider

Getting planning permission isn’t just a case of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from the planning authority. There are plenty of variables that you need to take into account when assessing the feasibility of your self build.

The area

It’s not as simple as choosing an area and building in it. Different areas will have different legislation and regulation when it comes to new builds, and the local planning authority will expect certain things from your application and your project in order to approve it. Conservation areas, for example, have strict rules on what type of developments are permitted, as planning authorities usually want to maintain the characteristics and appearance of the area. Carefully research the area and the planning authority before settling on a location to build in - a local planning officer can help with this.

The design

The design of your new home has to satisfy the planning authority, too. You can certainly be creative, but overly ambitious designs can often be rejected - again, you should consult with a planning officer to get some insight on what the planning authority usually looks for in an application.


There are plenty of things you can do to improve the sustainability of your build. From solar panels to low-energy lighting, going green helps to save you money in the long run as well as reducing your impact on the environment. Speak with your designer and architect to see what sustainability options are available to you.

Plot suitability

The planning authority will assess the plot you’ve identified. One major factor is flood risk - if the land you want to build on is known for flooding or is liable to flood, then it’s unwise to build on it and unlikely your application will be approved. The same goes for plots in conservation areas and areas of outstanding natural beauty - there are very strict rules about what you can and cannot build in these places.

Your neighbours

In any self build application, the neighbours around your chosen plot will be consulted about the build. It’s not a case of your potential neighbours simply saying ‘I don’t want anything built there’ - only certain arguments will be considered in any judgements. Concerns such as ‘my home may lose value’ or ‘it will block my view’ are not considered. Relevant arguments include:

● If a proposed property will overlook an existing property

● If a proposed property will cause an existing property to lose sunlight

● If an existing property will lose privacy

● If there will be a negative impact on trees in the area

How much does a planning application cost?

The cost of your planning permission will depend on the type of development you are proposing. It’ll also depend on the type of planning application you are submitting, which we’ll elaborate on in this piece. To find out the costs of your application, you’ll need to contact your local planning authority.

Type of planning permission

Outline Planning Permission

Outline planning permission concerns the concept of a new build in a certain area - it determines whether or not a piece of land can be used for building. Once outline planning permission is granted, the process moves on to a reserved matters application, which concerns things such as highways. Reserved matters must be addressed - it’s entirely possible for outline permission to be granted, but detailed planning permission to be refused because the highways issue has not been resolved.

Detailed planning permission

Detailed planning permission means your plans have been approved; the design, the structure, the shape, the size - all of it. If your detailed planning application includes reports from ecologists, architects and other consultants as we mentioned earlier in the piece, the application will pre-emptively address any concerns the planning authority may have, which can encourage them to approve the application.

How long will the process take?

You should receive an answer from the planning authority around eight weeks after submission.

What to do if your planning permission is refused?

It can be very demoralising if your application is refused, but you can appeal the decision. Before you push on with your appeal, you should speak to a designer or planning consultant to see if they can suggest any changes to your application that might help it to get accepted. Your appeal will be reviewed by a member of the Planning Inspectorate, an independent authority.

Right to build scheme for self builders

This might be a squeeze but it feels relevant to include something around this one.

Introduced in October 2016, the Right to Build Scheme was put in place to allow people to register their interest in building their own homes. Local authorities are now legally required to maintain a list of interested people, and they must also ensure there is adequate land available for people who want to build their own homes.

You can register for the Right to Build scheme on your local authority’s website or on

Obtaining planning permission for your self build project is a time consuming process, but it’s absolutely essential. If you prepare properly, consult professionals and take the time to research the area you plan to build in, you’ll be better equipped to put together a successful application.

For more information about self-build homes, please get in touch with us today and we’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Make sure to keep an eye out for our workshops, courses and exhibitions, too, so you can learn first-hand from experts about all things self building.

Before you Build your Home…Build your Knowledge with the NSBRC!

If you are contemplating building your dream home, or planning to improve your existing home, why not attend one of our NSBRC Training Courses first to build your knowledge and confidence?

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