Design Planning & Project Development Services

Planning Permission – What is Planning Permission?
Outline Planning Applications
Making a Planning Application
Permitted Development
Listed Buildings
Consultants Reports
Planning Refusals
Building Regulations
Project Management
Advice point from CITIES PROJECTS
It’s an Initial inquiry we can help to submit a proposal of your project in to your Local Council to make sure this development is in principle acceptable before you commit yourself in terms of time & effort. It’s a efficient way to start of development project with feasibility in mind. You do not have to pay any statutory fees to local council.
Planning Permission – What is Planning Permission ?

  • Planning Permission relates to changes in the appearance or use of buildings such as an extension to a house, or a conversion of a house into flats.
  • Planning Permission should not be confused with the Building Regulations.
  • Planning Permission can be one of the main hurdles to clear when thinking about making changes to your home and needs to be given consideration from the start, we will be able to advise you of this during your initial visit.
  • Planning Applications are handled by Planning Officers in the Planning Department of your Local Authority. For some minor or non-controversial issues the planning officers can approve an applications under ‘delegated’ powers’, for the most part however, the decisions are made by a committee of Local Councillors based upon the recommendations of the planning officers.
  • It is usual for a planning application to take 8-10 weeks to process, so make sure that you have allowed for this time within your timetable, remember that there is always the possibility that the application may be refused, in which case the time needed for amendments and re-submissions can be even lengthier.
  • A common misconception is that because other houses in the street have, for instance, roof extensions, this will automatically mean that yours will be allowed. Planning policy changes over time and has become more stringent in recent years, the existing examples may have been allowed under rules that have now changed.

Outline Planning Applications

  • An outline planning application is normally submitted to find out if the local planning authority will grant permission without having full design detailed plans drawn up.
  • If you obtain outline permission you later have to apply for full permission in the normal way.
  • Outline planning permission is often used if you intend to sell the property and/or land to someone else and gain maximum financial return from it.
  • If you go the outline planning first route, you will also have to spend two lots of planning fees (normally 2x £265). You will also have twice the wait.

Making A Planning Application

  • Planning Application are made to the local authority (e.g. London Borough Council )
  • You will need to pay an application fee, which are generally £185 for extensions and £385 for every new dwelling created.
  • The application includes several copies of drawings showing the existing state of the building and the proposals, site location plan and various certificates. Cities Projects can perform this service for you.
  • You will also need a ‘location plan’ at 1:250 / 1:500 / 1:200 scale (usually an extract from a Ordinance Survey Map in digital data). We can get this for you.
  • Once the application has been submitted, wait for at least 3 weeks before making progress enquiries with the planning department. If you find out who your ‘case officer’ is, you may be able to discuss the application with them. This can be useful, because they might be able to highlight a likely problem. This could enable you to make a change to your application that could make all the difference.
Planning applications are meant to take 8 weeks from the received date by the local authority, but the received date can be some time after submitting the application. Allow 3 months to be on the safe side.


Permitted Development

  • For small extensions and alterations, your proposals may fall within your ‘permitted development rights’, which means that planning permission will not be necessary. Cities Projects can give advice on this but it is still very important to check with your local planning department before proceeding and we would recommend that if permitted development does come into play, you ask the department to provide you with a ‘certificate of lawful development’ to confirm this (there is often a small fee for this).
  • There are a number of limits on height, volume (in cubic meters) etc. that your proposals need to be within for permitted development to apply. It is important to check with your local planning department or alternatively get us to do it for you.

Listed Buildings

Buildings of particular architectural interest are often officially ‘listed’ and thereby protected. Many residential buildings are ‘listed grade 2’ which means that all alterations (not just those to the outside or original parts) have to be approved under listed building consent.

Consultants  Report

Your Local Planning Authority could ask for various additional information to support the application: This could include:

  • Flood risk assessment (low lying areas)
  • Design Statement (not normally required for house extensions)
  • Bat survey (endangered species)
  • Phase 1 Land contamination Report (in area of industrial heritage)
  • Noise Survey (close proximity to main roads, railways, airports etc.)
  • Horticultural Surveys (large amounts of shrubs and trees)
  • Development Impact Assessment (for large developments)
  • These are not included in the basic fee of your planning application.
  • We can arrange private consultants to carry out these assessments

Planning Refusals – What Next ?

  • We cannot guarantee that a planning application will be passed. If a planning application is refused, we cannot refund your money.
  • If any of your applications are refused, you do have the right to appeal, the arrangements for this are available from your local planning department. The planning Inspectorate (Office of the Deputy Prime Minister) rather than your local planning department, handles this appeal.
  • At Cities Projects we can do planning appeals on a no-win, no-fee basis and will charge about 1% of the development cost if we win on appeal.
  • Alternatively you can submit an amended scheme to the local authority’s satisfaction, local authorities will allow you to submit a revised planning application within 6 months of a refusal free of charge.
  • If your proposals are refused, or seem likely to be, you may decide to utilise a planning consultant. This is someone who can act for you, framing your application in t
  • The most favourable way and arguing your case.

Building Regulations - What are the building regulations ?

  • This is not to be confused with Planning Permission, the Building Regulations are there to ensure that buildings are made to a minimum standard in many areas such as structure, fire escape, drainage, ventilation, insulation and so on, the regulations can often seem unreasonable, but they are there for good reasons.
  • Building regulation matters are handled by Building Control Officers at your local authority, unlike planning, there are no comities and you should not have to endure a long wait for approvals.

Which Method Do We Use ?

  • There are two ways to apply for approval under the building regulations: the ‘full plans’ method or the ‘building notice’ method.
  • We recommend the ‘full plans’ method of application as it can save many problems later with your builder on site. It involves the submission up front of detailed drawings that show a great deal of information, such as foundation depth and roof construction.
  • Once the work starts, the building control officer will visit the site and make arrangements with the builder to visit at specific points through the progress of the works to check that the works are up to the minimum standard that the regulations require. If any specific details are required then we can simply do those bits for you.
  • There are two fess payable to building control department, firstly a plan inspection fee, when the plans are submitted and later towards the end of the construction works the Building Control Section will invoice you and for the site inspection costs.
  • When the works are complete, you can ask the Building Control Officer to give you a certificate to confirm that everything has been done satisfactory.

Common Pitfalls

  • Most of the Building Regulations issues that occur in domestic projects are matters of detail and are reasonably easily accommodated as you go along however there are some areas where things can be more fundamental and it is good to be aware of them.
  • The most common fundamental issue that we have seen many times is to do with ‘means of escape in case of fire’. There are all sorts of aspects to this, but its is very common to find a situation where an open plan arrangement is desired, but the Building Regulations will not allow this as there is no suitable protected escape route from a habitable room (such as a bedroom). If you need help on this issue, we can look at your case and give you some general advice, or you should be able to get specific advice from your local building control department.

Making A Building Regulations Application

  • A ‘Full Plans Application’ should be submitted to your local authority about 6 weeks before you start building.
  • Legally you can start work before an approval notice has been issued, as long as you give us 48 hours notice. However, you must be mindful that should the application not be approved, the local authority has the right to remove/pull down any work that you have carried out up to that point.
  • It is illegal to commence building work without giving any notice to the local authority. If you fail to give notice, you are liable to a fine of £5000, plus £50 each day you continue to offend.
  • On issue of an approval notice the local authority will also send a set of inspection request forms, which state the various stages of construction at which a building inspector will want to carry out inspections (see table of typical inspection stages for a new dwelling). Many local authorities also accept notification of inspections by telephone and also e-mail.
  • An inspector will visit the site at each stage to ensure works are preceded to a satisfactory standard. If they feel in anyway that they are not, they have the power to make you correct the situation. If you fail to co-operate you are liable for prosecution and costs.

Site Inspections

  • To ensure that your work is constructed in accordance with the Building Regulations you will need to notify the Building Control Department at the following stages in order for us to visit the site:
  • At least 2 working days before the commencement of work
  • At least 1 working day when:
  • Excavations are complete prior to concreting.
  • Concrete foundations are laid
  • Any damp-proof course is laid or built of.
  • Drains are laid ready for inspection and test before back filling
  • At least 5 days before final and satisfactory completion of building work occupation
  • Additionally, other inspections may be made from time to time to check particular aspects of the construction either at the request of the person carrying out the work, or if the inspector considers additional inspections are necessary.
  • Completion Certificates
  • On completion of the building works and following a final inspection a Completion Certificate will be issued to the owner of the property.
  • When property is to be sold a Completion Certificate may speed up the process. It is therefore a valuable document, which should be kept safe without it you may have difficulty selling your property.

Structural Stability

  • Structure is another very important part of the building regulations. We may need to employ the services of a Structural Engineer who will provide your structural calculations to show that the structural alterations proposed meet requirements of the building regulations. This is very important as its comply with health & safety issue.

Project Management

  • Most homeowners have there favourite builder who they organise to carry out the work, but if you don’t, we can provide a Project management service on your project. We can organised a tenders from various reputed local builders , of which we check before we assign their building services to your project.