Planning law


Planning law in England and Wales can sometimes appear to be rather subjective, as applications for planning permission are made to local planning authorities rather than national bodies.

What is the law on planning development?

There are two main statutes that provide the local councils with this power and they are:

  • The Town Planning Act 1947
  • The County Planning Acts 1990

As a result, any new building, as well as any redevelopment of an existing building, must first receive a planning permission from the local council. A planning permission application must be submitted in advance of the build, and delays are common.

The decision process is similar to the common-law system in that if a property in the area has already been permitted to build in a certain way (e.g. a large skylight) then this creates a precedent and other developments in the area are likely to also be permitted such designs.

Applying for planning permission

The application for planning permission is made to the relevant authority on a form supplied by that authority. The local authority makes a decision to grant the application, usually subject to extensive conditions, or to refuse the application. 

In making the decision, the local authority must consider:

  • The development plan
  • Planning laws
  • Central government advice
  • Other planning-related factors specific to the proposal

Most planning permissions are not limited to the person and can be sold with the land.

Obtaining planning permission

Once planning permission has been granted, conditions of the permission usually require that work is started within a certain period of time. Any person granted planning permission should therefore check the permission and planning laws to see how long they have to commence works.

Although there isn't usually a time limit for when works need to be completed, if they are not completed within a reasonable time the local authority has the right to issue a completion notice which requires works to be finished by a certain date. Failure to complete works by a certain date can then result in the planning permission being revoked.

Planning laws can be complex, and it is important that before applying for planning permission you seek advice from a local planning solicitor. They will be able to give you advice on how best to approach the authority and whether you need to do anything before you apply for planning permission.

Want more information on how a lawyer can help you? See our information page on planning lawyers.

Are you looking at extending your house and want to apply for planning permission? Are you a company putting forward a large-scale development plan? Contact Law works with specialist planning law solicitors who can help you, whatever your scale of property development. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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