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Gaining Permission

When you begin taking steps towards fulfilling your self-build dream, there are a myriad of things to consider. One of the most important issues when looking at land to purchase is whether it will be possible to gain planning permission to build. Read on, to find out how to maximise your chances of gaining planning permission.

The first thing that you will need to do when planning your building project is look to see if it is affordable. Once this has been done, if there is land available in the area that you would like to build. From this point onwards, there are a variety of ways to manage the planning permission process. Here are a few things to take into consideration.

Getting started quickly?

Before purchasing land, consider the timeframe of your build project. If you want to begin building 'yesterday', then careful attention must be paid to the type of plot purchased. It is possible to avoid lengthy planning permission timelines by purchasing land that already comes with planning permission. Although this is the more expensive way of purchasing land, it can speed up the build-time considerably and ensures that there are no nasty surprises at the planning stage. However, read the outline planning permission section below carefully.

Starting over?

Another way to ensure that you will be able to build on a plot of land is to purchase a plot with an existing building on it. Although the house will have to be demolished before or during the new-build project, it will minimise planning permission issues. The only food for thought with this option is that you might not be able to extend beyond the footprint of the existing house on the plot.

For any plot of land you are interested in that has an existing house on the site, why not visit the Land Registry online and, for a minimal fee, gain detailed history of the property, previous owners, any rights-of-way issues and planning permissions already in existence?

Outline planning permission (OPP) and reserved matters applications

OPP means that land has been sold with permission to build a new structure on it and is valid for five years. However, the purchaser is only part-way there, as permission still needs to be gained for the actual size, design and layout of the property. Issues such as access, materials used, the way the building faces etc. will all need to be resolved and approved at this point before any building work can start. This process is known as a reserved matters application. Once this has been approved, building work can begin.

Detailed planning permission (DPP)

If you want to get things moving quickly, then applying for an OPP and submitting a reserved matters application together counts as a detailed planning application. Once this approval has been gained, then building must begin within two years. Even when you have approved DPP, it is worth getting professional help to check through the wording of the document to avoid any future difficulties with access, connecting to services outside the land or other design restrictions that are not obvious at first reading.

Things to avoid

Here are a few things to tick off the list when going through an OPP or DPP application:

  • Remember, an OPP approval refers to the plot of land being built on, not the person applying for permission - it cannot be transferred to another plot of land
  • Arrange a meeting with a local authority planning representative on-site sooner rather than later when commencing an OPP application, to gain useful advice on what they look for in a successful application.
  • Remember to ask your solicitor to look into possible issues concerning any buildings and land around the boundary line of your plot of land - local authority searches will only focus on your land, not those adjacent to you.
  • Are they any covenants to the planning permission that you need to be aware of? These could be tree protection orders, or the safe-guarding of key walls. It is worth checking if these are in place, as they could affect your plans dramatically.

Although finding a plot of land is seen as the key to any successful self-build project, the importance of gaining planning permission prior to building cannot be underestimated. However, if local architects and planning authorities are brought in from an early stage in the process, there is no reason why you cannot get a step closer to making that home of your dreams a reality.

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