London based planning appeal specialists, Just Planning, have kindly offered their top tips on how to ensure your planning application goes through.
1. Find the right architect
Hire a good local architect who knows the policies and culture of the local planning department. Have a look at recent approvals on the council's website to see what architects appear regularly and get positive results.
2. Plan carefully
Think about what you really want and need. Once an application is approved, you must complete the development exactly as shown on the plans. Even enlarging a window or moving a door can prove surprisingly tricky. Similarly, don't necessarily apply for the largest extension you think you can get away with. Building costs increase with every square metre of extra space and smaller spaces, cleverly designed, are often the best option. Bigger isn't always better - or affordable.
3. Talk to your neighbours
Take around a copy of your plans to your neighbours and explain what you want to do, so that they aren't startled by the council's 'neighbour notification' letter and send in an objection. Councils are paying closer attention to the views of adjoining occupiers, in line with the government's 'localism' agenda.
4. Think 'permitted development'
Some types of works don't require planning permission, subject to certain restrictions. Large loft conversions and deep ground floor extensions may be obtained relatively hassle free. It is usually worth seeking a certificate ('of lawfulness') before starting works. The government has a helpful animated overview of permitted development rights on its planning website (www.planningportal.gov.uk).
5. Always appeal
Don't be afraid to appeal a planning refusal. Council planning officers are a conservative bunch, hopelessly overworked and often working from dated policies. Just Planning wins more than 70% of appeals it undertakes and offers a free consultation on whether an appeal may succeed.