HDS Architectural have put together a number of commonly asked client questions and answers. As Planning Policy regularly changes these are to be used as a basic guide only. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact us or refer to the Governments Planning Policy website.

Why should I use a fully insured and qualified practice?

The procedure for completing building works can be quite a complex procedure (some of which is detailed below).  When using a fully insured, professional architectural services company like HDS Architectural you will be appointing a practice who will guide you through each of processes, as and when they occur, in a simple, easy to understand manner.

At the beginning of the process we will explain exactly what will happen and when.  We will liaise with the local authority on your behalf and deal with any issues or queries which they may have with regards to your project.

HDS architectural can also gain quotations from various trusted builders, in order to give you an insight into potential build costs. We can also liaise with various external consultants, such as structural engineers, if required.

What is Planning Permission?

The building of a new dwelling, or extensive changes to existing buildings, usually requires planning permission. The system is in place to deter inappropriate development.

Decisions on whether to grant planning permission are made in line with national guidance (in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local planning policies set out by the local authority.

How Much Does a Planning Application Cost?

The local authority fee is currently £380 for a full application for a new single dwelling in Wrexham, however, this few varies in the rest of the UK. For home improvers, an application in Wales for an extension currently costs £190, whereas in England the cost of a typical householder application is currently £206 (Figures from June 2019).

Since April 2008, all local planning departments use the same application form, known as 1APP. HDS Architectural will complete the application process online at the Planning Portal on your behalf, as part of our service.

How Long Does Planning Permission Last?

All planning permissions automatically expire after a certain period. Unless your permission says otherwise, you have three years from the date full consent is granted to begin building.

Depending on how soon your consent expires, you may take different steps to get your project started. If the expiry date is imminent, you can apply to have the deadline extended, to ensure you have adequate time to plan effectively.

If you have sufficient time to make what is known as a ‘material start’ then it may be best to secure the permission in perpetuity, allowing you the time needed to get started properly.

If possible, avoid buying a plot with permission that is about to expire – consent will expire before you have chance to get started. This is especially relevant on consents that were hard fought or where planning policy may have changed. Securing new permission may not always be straightforward.

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

If your project involves the creation of a new building, or dwelling (either by building from scratch or remodelling an existing building), then planning permission is normally required.

Larger outbuildings, extensions, builds or improvements in conservation areas or listed buildings, are likely to require planning permission.

Smaller additions and improvements can normally be made under Permitted Development and can be approved under an application for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’.

What is Permitted Development/Lawful Development Certificate?

Permitted development allows for smaller, minor improvements, such as converting a loft or modest extensions to your home, to be undertaken without going through the householder planning application process.

It is recommended that householders apply for a lawful development certificate if work is to be done under ‘Permitted Development’.

The Wrexham local authority fee for applying for a lawful development certificate is £95 (figures from June 2019).

At HDS Architectural we work closely with our clients and guide them through the whole process. We prepare and submit all of the relevant documentation to the local authority and will liaise with them throughout the whole process.

What is Householder Planning Permission?

This grants permission for a building works to a single private residence, incluing any alterations, extensions, or outbuildings. A full set of drawings, including existing (what the building is like now) and proposed (what it will be like after the works are  complete) will have to be drawn up by a qualified architectural technician and these would be submitted to the local authority with the relevant fee.

Attached to the permission may come a set of planning conditions, which must be met before work commences on site. They must be discharged (satisfied) formally by letter by the local authority, usually before commencing work – otherwise the approval is invalidated.

What is Full Planning Permission?

This grants permission for a project with a detailed design for creation of a new dwelling. This could be a new build dwelling, or for example, a barn conversion. A full set of drawings will have to be drawn up by a qualified architectural technician and these would be submitted to the local authority with the relevant fee.

Attached to the permission may come a set of planning conditions, which must be met before work commences on site. They must be discharged (satisfied) formally by letter by the local authority, usually before commencing work – otherwise the approval is invalidated.

What is Outline Planning Permission?

This grants permission in principle, but does not include design specifics. It is important to note that outline planning consent does not provide permission to start work. An application for ‘reserved matters’ – which may include the size of the proposed house, appearance, position, landscaping and access – will need to be submitted and approved before work can take place.

If your detailed plans deviate significantly from the original outline planning then you’ll likely need to re-submit for either a new outline or full permission.

Also, if you are keen to start your project quickly, then it makes sense to apply for full planning permission from the outset.

How Long Does Approval Take?

Local authorities are supposed to determine planning applications within 8 weeks of registration, and the majority of straightforward householder applications will be dealt with within this time frame.

A sign is posted outside the address relating to the proposed development and any neighbours likely to be affected are written to and invited to view the plans and to comment. This is known as the public consultation process. The authority will make statutory consultations to the local Highways department, and where necessary the Environment Agency as well as others.

Realistically, if you are having to make more than one application (following revisions or changes to the design), you should consider setting aside 6-12 months for the process, depending on the type and size of the project.

How are Applications Decided?

The local authority will base its decision on what are known as ‘material considerations’, which can include (but are not limited to):

  • Overlooking/loss of privacy
  • Loss of light or overshadowing
  • Parking
  • Highway safety
  • Traffic
  • Noise
  • Impact on listed building and conservation areas
  • Layout and density of building
  • Design, appearance and materials
  • Government policy
  • Disabled access
  • Proposals in the development plan
  • Previous planning decisions
  • Nature conservation

Neighbours will be consulted and invited to comment, together with parish councils (in England and Wales), but only those objections based on material considerations are taken into account.

If the neighbours do not object and the officers recommend approval, they will usually grant planning permission for an application using what are known as delegated powers.

Can I Alter my Design Once I Have Full Planning Permission?

You can make minor alterations by applying for a non-material amendment. However, major alterations could involve a further application for Full planning permission, so discuss your plans with your architect first.

What happens if my Planning Application is Refused?

In England around 75% of applications are granted. If your application is rejected you can either amend or re-submit having dealt with the reasons for refusal, or you can make an appeal to the planning inspectorate.

What are Building Regulations?

Building regulations were put in place to ensure that all building works are completed to a high safety standard. The Regulations are very detailed, and can be read in full on the Communities and Local Government Website.  However in summary, your project has to comply with these documents:

Part A – Structure

Part B – Fire Safety
Part C – Contamination and damp
Part D – Toxicity

Part E – Sound
Part F – Ventilation
Part G – Hygiene
Part H – Drainage
Part J – Fuel
Part K – On-site Safety

Part L – Conservation of Fuel and Power
Part M – Access
Part N – Glazing
Part P – Electrics

Building Regulations are constantly been updated in the UK and your chosen architect and builder will need to be up to date with the latest regulations.

When is Approval Required?

You will require Building Regulations approval if you intend to carry out any new structural work or alterations to your home.

Additionally, work involving these areas also requires approval, although in some of these cases, competent persons can self-certify their works for compliance:

  • drainage
  • heat-producing appliances
  • cavity wall insulation
  • electrics
When is Approval not Required?

You do not need Building Regulations approval for most minor works, particularly where like-for-like replacements are used. Certain small buildings, such as conservatories not containing sleeping accommodation, are also exempt. Check with your local authority for a full list.

If in doubt, check with the local authority before starting work.

Who Grants Approval?

You can choose to use:

  • a local authority inspector from your local council and run through Local Authority Building Control (LABC)
  • an approved inspector from a government-approved private building inspection company. Around 20% of all approvals are now handled privately, without recourse to the local authority

This is the case for new builds, as well as alterations, extensions and loft conversions.

What is a Building Notice Application?

A Building Notice application allows you to carry out the work without prior approval, however the responsibility of ensuring the work fully complies is entirely with the builder.

What is a Full Plans Application?

A Full plans application means that an architect will draw up a full set of detailed plans.  These plans are checked and approved by a building inspector and you will know from the start that the plans full comply with all of the Building Regulations.

The other advantage of this route is that the approved drawings will show everything the builder will need to know in order to provide a fixed quotation.

The Inspection Process

Although work on a new build or extension may proceed before any formal approval, nothing can proceed beyond the inspection stages without the approval of the inspector. Those inspection stages are:

  • excavations for the foundations
  • foundation concrete
  • oversite
  • damp-proof course
  • foul water drains trenches open
  • surface water drains trenches open
  • occupation prior to completion (second fix)
  • completion
What is Completion Certificate?

When the building is completed to the satisfaction of the building inspector, a completion certificate will be issued.  This is a vital document and must be retained alongside the written planning permission documentation for use should you wish to sell.

It is also required in order to release final funds from lenders and to obtain the warranty certificate.

The completion certificate will not be available until all of your certificates (e.g. electrical certificates, sap certificate etc) have been passed to the building control officer and a final site inspection has been completed and the works approved.