How to apply for planning permission in London: A comprehensive guide

How to apply for planning permission in London: A comprehensive guide Planning

London’s skyline is ever-evolving and behind every building, empty premises or pre-revamped property is an important process – applying for and securing proper planning permission. At WindsorPatania, we’re familiar with every part of the planning application process, the intricacies of each step, the timeline and how the process relates to your unique property or project.

WindsorPatania have supported numerous clients on their successful planning permission journey. Although the approval process may never always be guaranteed, with our commitment and dedication, our team of experts can facilitate your application. So, if you have reached a stage where you are considering building, extending or renovating your home and are seeking planning permission, WindsorPatania can guide you through every stage of your project, from the initial design and consultation phase to understanding the formalities of obtaining planning permission.

This guide is a comprehensive overview of what to expect when it comes to obtaining planning permission in London.

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What is London’s planning permission process?

Planning permission is required for most building projects in London, big or small, to ensure development occurs in an orderly way that benefits the community. This approval must be obtained from your local council before any building work, large external renovations and construction can begin.

In London specifically, the planning process grants consent while aiming to retain much of the period charm and architectural splendour of London recognised by Historic England. This means enabling homeowners, developers and investors to modernise and update properties with careful consideration for the capital’s unique heritage.

Much of London’s allure comes from its mix of historic architectural styles. On every street can be found grand Georgian and Victorian terraces and private residences in impressive parts of London like Bloomsbury that were once home to famous literary figures like Virginia Woolf and Charles Dickens. Today, such areas are blessed with an abundance of history and art heritage that boast period architectural features safeguarded by planning rules for future generations to admire.


When is planning permission essential?

Applying for planning permission is initiated when a construction or renovation project extends beyond the parameters of Permitted Development. Essentially, any new structure, significant extensions, or even a shift in a building’s primary purpose such as converting an office block in a residential area will warrant an official planning permission application.

It is worth noting that there are stricter rules when applying for Planning Permission for Listed Buildings because for these projects you will require ‘Listed Building Consent’.


How does planning permission work?

Obtaining planning permission and determining when you need it will depend on a number of factors, such as the size of the building, its intended use and location. In most cases in London, however, permission is needed. Once you’ve confirmed the need for planning approval, the next step is preparing the application. This includes detailed drawings, documents outlining the proposal, and forms required by the local council. An architect can advise on requirements.

At any point, it is a good idea to seek expert help as navigating London’s planning system can be complex given the city’s rich history and density of buildings. Remember that well-designed modern projects and proposals that blend seamlessly into their historic surroundings are more likely to gain approval. It is therefore important to have the property you are seeking planning permission for appraised before upgrading it with modern extensions. Consulting an experienced architect in London for planning guidance early on is advised. Their expertise can inform the design with respect to the London context while meeting your bespoke interior specifications and desired project.

Below is a graphic that outlines the steps we follow at WindsorPatania to ensure planning success. As you can see, the planning process is the fifth step in our methodology, following Design Appraisal, Measured Survey, Existing Drawings, and Concept Drawings. This visual guide underscores our methodical approach to effectively navigating London’s planning system.

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Planning timeline: An ideal eight-week turnaround

The completed application is then submitted to your relevant local council for review. In London, this will be one of multiple London borough authorities, depending on where your property is. The council will evaluate your application against local development plans and policies. They can choose to approve the application as proposed, deny it, or ask for changes to gain approval.

This planning application process for most projects usually takes about eight weeks on paper. However, in principle, the process can take longer – even years – depending on the availability of the council in question and any intricacies within the plans. submitted your application. Before this, you might have invested weeks or even months meticulously working through design ideas, plans and sketches depending on the complexity of your project and its magnitude. A loft redesign or kitchen extension in a private home will understandably be faster than a large-scale commercial project.

Planning permission could be accompanied by specific conditions or caveats. If these stipulations don’t align with your vision or are perceived as constraints, it’s back to the drawing board, or in our case, the drafting table. If planning permission is granted, you can proceed with development as outlined in the approval. Post approval, the planning permission is valid for three years.

London Planning process timeline chart

Overview: Achieving planning permission in London

The route to obtaining Planning Permission in London can initially seem like a winding path with its complexities and intricacies. However, here is an overview of the whole process:

  1. Determine if your project is beyond the boundaries of Permitted Development and requires Planning Permission. Remember, entirely new structures, significant alterations, or a shift in building purpose usually fall into this category.
  2. Spend adequate time in the planning and design phase. Depending on the project’s scale, this could span from a few weeks to several months.
  3. Engage experts at WindsorPatania to ensure your application meets all regulations.
  4. Submit the application.
  5. Allow an eight-week window for your decision. Be ready to adapt, amend, or even reapply if necessary.
  6. Once approved, you have a three-year timeline to kickstart your project. Use this time wisely.

WindsorPatania: Planning advice for all your property needs

At WindsorPatania, our modus operandi revolves around precision and proactive problem-solving. Our team can support your Planning Permission application, ensuring every conceivable aspect is taken into account. We only initiate the Planning Permission application once we’re confident that it will win subsequent approval.

Gaining planning permission, therefore, requires careful consideration of a building’s uses, scale, access, traffic impacts, and neighbour effects. The process involves detailed documents, technical drawings and often negotiations to gain council approval. For these reasons, it’s really important that you draw on the experience of our Architectural Team from the start to ensure the best possible result for a Planning Application.

You can book a free call with us to discuss the planning process for your London property.


This article was written in collaboration with our content team member Annie Button.

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