Apr 30, 2024

Pre-Application v Full Planning Permission

Once the initial considerations for undertaking building work have been made, attention naturally shifts towards...

Once the initial considerations for undertaking building work have been made, attention naturally shifts towards understanding the planning permission requirements and how to navigate them effectively. 


Planning permission typically stands as a significant milestone in most construction endeavours and understanding its role within the project timeline is crucial. This is because it determines what you are allowed to build and how much you can maximise the project value by.


At the project's outset, the foundational concepts of the intended scheme are often outlined in a preliminary sketch design. The design is then subjected to viability testing before proceeding to further detailing. 


Viability assessment encompasses various aspects such as planning requirements, structural feasibility, cost analysis, buildability, and project scheduling.

Testing the planning viability early in the project lifecycle involves examining planning permissions for similar projects within the vicinity or consulting local authority planning guidelines.

Permitted Development

Planning permission may not always be necessary. 

Many domestic building works fall under the category of Permitted Development, which can be carried out without explicit planning permission. The guidelines for Permitted Development can be accessed via the Government's Planning Portal website.


If planning permission is indeed required, the subsequent step typically involves seeking "Pre-Application Advice" from the local planning authority (LPA). This process fosters constructive dialogue between the applicant and the authority, enabling early identification of potential planning issues and clarification of relevant planning policies.

To request Pre-Application Advice, the scheme details need to be submitted to the LPA along with the requisite fee. The extent of information required for the assessment will be determined by the design team, with comprehensive submissions facilitating detailed feedback from the LPA.

The response from the LPA may take various forms, ranging from written reports to face-to-face meetings to discuss the scheme.

Upon receiving feedback from the Pre-Application stage, the scheme design is reassessed in light of the findings, potentially necessitating adjustments. These proposed changes are evaluated against the project's viability considerations before finalizing the scheme.

Full Planning

You may prefer to skip the pre-application stage in order to save time, but there is a risk that the application fails, rendering it more difficult to succeed if you decide to re-apply. Thankfully, you will still be able to consult with the case officer during the full planning process in order to manage your design before it is determined.

Approval Conditions

Subsequently, the scheme is formally submitted for planning approval, with hopes for a favourable decision. However, the process doesn't necessarily conclude there, as planning permissions often entail conditions that must be adhered to diligently throughout the construction phase.

Lawful Use

Planning requirements significantly influence the design and construction processes and should be continuously reviewed to ensure optimal compliance.

While the regulations regarding Permitted Development are relatively straightforward, it's advisable to seek a Certificate of Lawful Development from the local planning authority, even in cases where work falls under this category. This certificate serves as official confirmation of the development's permitted status, which can be invaluable during property transactions.