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How long does planning permission last?

Your project's been given the go-ahead but how long have you got to make it happen? Find out with this guide from our designers.

7 min read

Whether it’s because the timing isn’t right or due to external factors if you’ve obtained planning permission, you might not be ready to jump into construction just yet. However, if you do want to put your project on hold, you may be wondering if your planning permission will run out.

And planning permission does indeed run out.

Therefore, if you want to make sure your application doesn’t go to waste, heed this advice from our in-house planning team.

How long is planning permission valid?

Traditionally, planning permission is valid for three years from the time of approval.

However, this time frame changes, depending on your type of planning permission. Alternatively, those who opt for outline planning permission will have three years to submit any outstanding reserved matters. Once approval for these matters has been granted, the applicant will have a further 2 years to get building - bringing the total time to 5 years!

Not sure which application is right for you? Here’s a quick breakdown of the two planning routes.

How long is full / householder planning permission valid?

Full / Householder planning permission expires after three years.

This is the most traditional planning route and means you have submitted a full or householder planning application, including all the details the local planning authority needs to approve the works in full.

In order to submit these types of applications, you’ll need to put together…

  • An application form
  • Evidence verifying the information within the application
  • Architectural plans and elevations
  • A site location plan
  • A fee

It takes 8-10 weeks on average for a council to reach a decision, and if you get approval, this will come with some conditions attached.

Some of these conditions can be the authority asking you to submit ‘details for approval’. These are details on your build that the authority felt weren’t fully described in your original application or they require further information on. No matter when you plan on starting your build, it’s important these conditions are met before work begins.

Another condition that is always included on full or householder planning permissions is the expiry of your permission. As outlined above, for these application types, that is always three years.

How long is outline planning permission valid?

Outline permission is generally used for large scale projects, so is rarely used by homeowners, but could be an option if you’re building from scratch or you’re a developer.

This type of permission lets you get an idea from your authority about what they might allow before you invest any significant amount of money into architectural fees. It also allows you to submit less detailed plans, meaning you can finalise the finer details later.

Once your outline permission has been granted, you’ll have three years to sort out your ‘reserved matters’. These are basically the details of your proposal that you left out in the outline application.

Here’s what you might have in your reserved matters list:

  • The appearance of your build or alterations to your property.
  • Means of access - how you’ll get in and out of the building.
  • Landscaping - how the surrounding area will be laid out.
  • How big your project will be in terms of size.
  • The layout you want for your home and the space around the property.

Once you have fleshed out your ideas, you must make sure you begin construction within 2 years.

How long planning permission lasts

An example of a new build development that might require outline planning permission.

What constitutes starting work for planning permission?

It’s important to remember you only need to start construction in order to be within the rules, meaning you don’t need your project to be done and dusted by the time the expiration date rolls around.

According to the Town and Country Planning Act, your planning permission will have been implemented once you undertake any ‘material operation’ that aids in your project being constructed.

A ‘material operation’ in this context means…

  • Any construction work which is part of erecting a building
  • Any demolition work involving a building
  • The digging of the foundations
  • The installation of any underground main or pipe that is linked to the foundations
  • Starting to layout or construct a new road
  • Any change to the use of your land that can be seen as material development

What happens if construction takes longer than I thought?

Remember: construction only needs to begin within the 3-year time frame.

This means fulfilling one of the ‘material operations’ listed above. As long as one of these elements has been carried out before the 3-year mark, you’ll be allowed to keep building and complete your project at any point in the future.

If you want to follow this route, in order to avoid disappointment, our planning team would always recommend applying for a certificate of lawful development from the council, where your planning authority will be able to confirm that the ‘material operations’ you think have been carried out, actually do meet the threshold and allow you to complete as planned!

Construction often overruns initial estimates, as progress can be hauled by adverse weather conditions or supplier delays. This not only slows down the work but can have a knock-on effect on your budget. Because of this, we always recommend a homeowner has a 10% contingency fund to avoid cash funds running out on site.

Can I renew or extend my planning permission?

No, you cannot renew or extend your planning permission.

Once planning permission has been granted, you only have two options:

  • Start construction within the allotted time
  • Make a new planning application

And, to avoid any heartache, it’s worth remembering that local policies can change. If this is the case, what was approved 3 years ago, might not get the green light this time around. If your council’s policies are exactly the same though, they should re-approve your plans.

Building a house

If you want to make sure your planning doesn't expire, you'll need to start building.

My planning permission has expired, what should I do?

The only thing you can do is make a new planning application.

You may find your council is still open to the development, or they may offer approval but with new conditions attached. In the case of the former, you may need a designer to readjust your drawings to bring them in line with these new concerns.

Should you face rejection, an architect may also be needed to turn things around with a new design. Otherwise, you might consider a less subjective planning route by utilising your permitted development rights. However, these rights won’t apply or will be limited to those living in flats, maisonettes, listed buildings, conservation areas, and some new builds.

Learn more about permitted development rights here.

How to reapply for expired planning permission?

Reapplying for planning permission will involve submitting a whole new planning application. The good news is that as long as your home hasn’t changed since the initial application, then you’ll be able to use the same existing and proposed drawings.

Remember: a new application involves paying a new fee to your council, and you’ll need to sit back for the 8-week review to take place.

How to speed up the planning process: our expert tips

  • 8 weeks can feel like a long time to wait, so make sure your project doesn’t get hit by any paperwork related delays by getting planning support in place. Some architects and designers will prepare your application for you and manage the process on your behalf, ensuring mistakes hold you back!

  • Another benefit to using an architect is that they may be able to liaise with your local authority. Should a small design change be required to get your plans over the line, your designer will be on hand to make them there and then.

  • With ambitious projects, it can help to be as clear as possible on what the final results will look like. Commissioning 3D renders isn’t a requirement, but the detailed view they provide can help persuade a planning officer who may be on the fence.

  • Your neighbours will be alerted to your plans, and they might not like a new development sprung on them. If you’re worried about complaints, it never hurts to go over with a bottle of something fizzy to discuss your plans and make the project sound less intimidating. This consideration can also pay off when it's time to settle party wall matters.

Another top planning tip is to make sure you understand your planning options from the start. At Resi, our Grow Your Home report lets you benefit from our years of experience by breaking down the best extension projects you could pursue from a planning perspective, as well as providing an in-depth analysis of your area. All we need is your postcode and our data will do the rest!

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With Resi Ready, you do the designs yourself on our whizz bang tech configurator. It’s the simplest way to get a spiffy new home extension.

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