Planning Permission – New Builds
If you’re an avid watcher of property programmes on television, you will already be well aware that one of the most popular purchases is land that is ripe for building. Whether that’s an empty lot with or without planning permission already or a plot where there’s adequate space in addition to the existing structure, bidding can be fierce.Out of any given year’s new home construction statist

ics, anything up to 10% – approximately 12,000 properties – are self-build projects. That level of popularity does mean that there are a number of commercial enterprises dedicated to new builds as a means of getting the new home you really want. These offer options allowing you to have as much or as little involvement as you choose. However, like all renovation projects which aren’t covered by permitted development, you can’t just throw up a couple of three-bedroom houses on a whim – you need planning permission.

What do I need to do?
Since planning permission is linked to land rather than to individuals, it’s possible that if you’ve bought a plot at auction that it already carries permission for a specific structure. This should be detailed in any paperwork, but it’s worth checking specifics.

You should also be very wary of scams; any major financial outlay is a tempting hunting ground for criminals, and self-building land purchases are no exception. There are some sorts of land that are unlikely to be granted planning permission – green belt, or land at risk from flooding for example – and it’s worth getting your local planning authority’s advice before parting with any money as you’d be very unlikely to get it back again.

Your LPA will also be able to guide you through, especially as planning regulations can be difficult to untangle for the inexperienced, and local planning restrictions can differ from one authority to another. You will probably have to pay for any pre-application advice, but that’s considerably cheaper than losing money on a land-banking scheme or putting together plans with an architect that won’t get approved.

Other Considerations
For new builds, especially for very complex projects, you might want to approach your planning permission application in two stages; an application for outline planning permission (or OPP) can give you an indication of whether your plans will be approved before you spend too much. It’s normally applied to larger projects only, but as a belt and braces option it’s worth asking your LPA’s advice here, especially as local politics might be as likely to affect the outcome as much as the nature of the structure.

As already mentioned each local authority is likely to have its own advice section prior to making a final planning application and going onto the detailed planning permission (or DPP) stage of the process.

However, it’s worth being wary of purchases where the land is being sold with OPP; this might mean that basics like access to the site still haven’t been agreed, let alone the nature of the structure. You might find yourself with permission to build little better than a one-bedroom bungalow!

How long will it take?
You should get a decision within eight weeks of your application being submitted, especially as a local council’s performance is judged on results, and speed of results. Unfortunately, this does mean that it can be tricky negotiating any amendments if your application is not approved. However, if you keep an eye on your application at every stage of the process, you can save yourself some money – if problems are identified, you can withdraw it and submit a new application at no extra charge.

And if it’s refused?
It’s worth noting that if permission is refused, it can take an independent planning inspector a year at least to make a decision which still might not find in your favour, hence keeping an eye on each stage of your initial application. However, all is not lost as that does give you a clear outline with regard to what isn’t acceptable on the site, and if you’re going for the perfect home for you, an extra year might be a perfectly reasonable waiting time.

As with other types of planning permission, neighbours might object (although that doesn’t necessarily mean refusal), so you might want to canvass the area and make a few enquiries. After all, you’re making a huge financial and emotional investment if you’re building your own home.