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How long does it take to get planning permission? 8 or 13 weeks?

Want to know how long the council have to decide on your planning application? We outline the official timescales (and how much time it might actually take)

11 January 2024
3 minutes read
Large printed paper calendar lying on a white countertop, held together by a small wooden peg and loose metal paper clips on the side of the large January bold lettering

One of the most common questions we get from landlords in London is "How long does it take to get planning permission in London?"

So what’s the answer?

Most planning applications should be decided within 8 weeks, unless they are complex.

Let’s look at the planning application timeline in detail...

When will I get a decision for my planning application?

8 weeks if...
Household and minor planning applications are meant to be decided within 8 weeks.

13 weeks if...
Large or controversial developments are meant to be decided within 13 weeks.

16 weeks if…
If an application is subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment, it is meant to be within 16 weeks.

How planning officers assess planning applications

Applications are assessed in two parts, externally and internally. Both parts of the planning permission process should take up to 4 weeks each, beginning with the external discussion.

The external discussion allows your application to be seen by individuals or companies, such as your neighbours and utility companies. They can add comments and either approve or complain about your application, which may or may not be taken into account by the planning officer.

The second part, is where your application is viewed internally by a planning officer. The officer will research the area and how the development will fit in, alongside the external comments.

They will also have meetings with other planning officers for additional comments on the project. The planning officer will then go over the application again with the research and comments to make a decision on the application.

The decision will be either allowed or refused.

If your application is allowed, then all is well! You will join successful landlords or homeowners.

If your application is refused, and you do not agree with the reasons for refusal, you can submit an appeal.

An appeal is sent to the Planning Inspectorate. Planning appeals have no fixed deadline but generally take around six months. The Planning Inspectorate is separate from all local planning authorities and will check your application thoroughly to decide if the planning officer’s decision is reasonable or unreasonable.

How long are planning applications actually taking in 2022?

Unfortunately, the timescales we have given you so far are local planning authorities' targets. They don't always match reality, even at the best of times. And since the Covid-19 pandemic started, many councils have been struggling to get anywhere near those targets. Some of them say openly that they are operating at least four weeks behind schedule, others just talking about delays.

You might think that over two years on, councils would have recovered from the disruption caused by the first lockdown. In fairness to planning departments, at no point have they been provided with extra resources to allow them to catch up. Unless that happens, or unless there is a large reduction in the number of planning applications at some point, you should not reply on getting a planning decision within eight weeks of submission, especially if your application is not a straightforward one.

What if I receive an enforcement notice?

Different timescales apply where the development is also the subject of an enforcement notice.

If an enforcement notice has been served within two years of the application being submitted or is served before the time period for determining the application has expired, the time limit to appeal is within 28 days of the determination date.

If an enforcement notice is served after the application’s date for determination, the time limit is 28 days from the enforcement notice served date, unless this would extend the period beyond the usual time limit for cases not involving an enforcement notice

A word of caution: DO NOT commence the development proposed before you get planning permission otherwise you may need to apply for planning permission retrospectively.

It is also important to note that applications for approval under the Building Regulations are dealt with separately from applications for planning permission, and the passing of plans under the Building Regulations in no way implies approval under the planning act. 

How Urbanist Architecture can help you 

Urbanist Architecture is a London-based RIBA chartered architecture and planning practice with offices in Greenwich and Belgravia. With a dedicated focus in proven design and planning strategies, and expertise in residential extensions, conversions and new build homes, we help homeowners to create somewhere they enjoy living in and landowners and developers achieve ROI-focused results.

If you want to win the planning permission you need without worrying about being rejected, contact us now. We'd be happy to help.

Claudia Stephens, Planner at Urbanist Architecture
AUTHOR

Claudia Stephens

Claudia is our planner, specialising in green belt developments and other complex planning applications. She provides regulatory research and evidence-based advice, negotiates with local authority planning departments, and keeps us informed of the latest legislation and government guidance.

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