How to submit a successful planning application – five key considerations

The success of your planning application will depend, in part, on the quality of your preparation, the accuracy of your designs and the development of your relationship with the relevant parties. With these basic principles in mind, we’ve supplied five key considerations for the planning process.

Create quality designs

Design is the most important aspect of the planning permission process. Good design should mediate between policy and ambition. Be it a small extension or a brand new build, good design should always include appropriate scaling and a smart layout and should strive to protect and enhance the character of the surrounding environment. To optimise your designs for a successful application, it is advisable to consult a skilled architecture firm that specialises in obtaining planning permission.

“Good design can work wonders for you. Good design can help you increase your chances of getting the planning permission you want.” - Ufuk Bahar, Urbanist Architecture (

Research relevant planning policies

To produce effective designs, it’s important to research the planning policies that directly affect your project. Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) may have multiple overlapping policies in their development plan. Be sure to determine which ones will influence the outcome of your application.

With any proposal, certain issues will be taken into account. These are often referred to as ’material planning considerations’. It is for your local planning authority to decide how much weight should be given to each. Here are a few common examples:

· Loss of sunlight

· Noise or disturbance

· Capacity of physical infrastructure

· Effect on listed buildings and conservation area

· Layout and density of building design and finishing materials

· Overlooking and loss of privacy

· Overshadowing and loss of outlook

· Smell or fumes

· Loss or effect on trees

· Incompatible or unacceptable uses

· Highway issues including traffic generation, vehicular access, highway safety.

A skilled planning and architecture firm can do all the policy research for you and can determine which planning considerations will directly affect your proposal. Ultimately, the firm will use their planning expertise to write an effective Design and Access Statement, which will be used to convince the LPA that your proposal does indeed comply with the relevant policies.

Build a relationship with your planning officer

It’s imperative to develop a positive relationship with your planning officer, as this person will most likely be responsible for making the final determination on your application. The process of liaising with planning officers requires some finesse. For this reason, you might consider hiring a skilled architect and planning consultant, as they will have experience working with planning authorities. A planning consultant can also monitor your application as its being processed and if a problem arises, they can liaise with the officer to help obtain a positive outcome.

Contact all relevant parties

A planning and architecture firm can also handle all technical issues that might arise during the planning application process. For instance, your proposal may require flood risk assessments, tree surveys, archaeological investigations and any number of technical reviews. By contacting the appropriate organisations ahead of time, your architect can prevent technical issues from undermining your proposal.

Hire a skilled professional

Many people decide not to hire planning consultants because they think that not doing so will save them money. In fact, hiring a consultant can be a worthwhile investment that actually saves not only money but also time and effort. It is therefore advisable to find a multidisciplinary architecture firm that focuses on planning permission.

The firm should:

Collaborate well – they should produce designs that satisfy both your needs and the needs of the planning authority. They should cultivate strong relationships with you and with the planning authority.

Communicate well –they should simplify complex ideas and clearly communicate priorities, instead of using jargon and complicated expressions.

Have ‘know-how’ expertise – they should understand the pitfalls of planning applications and have a strong grasp of UK planning law, contemporary design practice and planning policies.

Have an impressive track record – they should offer you examples of previous work and should be open about their rate of success for planning permission applications.

Pursue creative solutions - when obstacles arise, the architect should provide flexible solutions that optimise the usage of space and increase chances of a successful application.

Be RIBA registered – RIBA Chartered Practices are the only architectural practices endorsed and promoted by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), through commitments to quality assurance, business management and client service.

In the end, the right architecture firm can produce quality designs that comply with your LPA’s development plan, while maintaining strong ties with the planning officer in charge of your application. For this reason, it is a good idea to hire a firm that specialises in obtaining planning permission.