5 top tips to make sure your planning application is accepted

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If you’re attempting to get planning permission to develop your property, you need to ensure that you understand exactly what is expected of you, and what requirements you need to meet in order for your application to be accepted. These will differ from county to county, so make sure you’re in close contact with your local planning officer and seek advice if necessary. In order to help you through the process, we’ve drafted a list of our top five tips to help make sure your planning application is accepted.

1. Research local and national policies

Both national and local policies affect the success of a planning application. If you’re hoping to have an application validated on your first attempt, it’s necessary to research both types. It’s also a good idea to research previous planning applications in your area. This will give you an insight into how policies are interpreted by your specific planning office, what they like, and what they don’t like.

2. Play the game

While the bureaucratic process surrounding planning permission may often seem to be a waking nightmare, it’s important that you play by the local planning office’s rules. Every region has its own specific interpretation of the rules, so getting to grips with the way your area applies them is a good place to start. Talk to your local councillors, seek professional advice, and try to work out how local planning politics works.

3. Talk to those who may be affected by the construction

The planning permission process acknowledges the fact that private property developments can still have a big impact on public land, neighbours, and the wider community around them. The vast majority of objections to development plans come from those who live next to or near the property in question.

Therefore, it’s important that you enter into dialogue with those you believe will be affected most significantly by the proposed construction. Talking to neighbours and the local community early on is likely to make them feel as though they’ve been consulted and that they’re involved in the process, minimising the risk that they’ll object and ensuring that, if they do object, the lines of communication remain open.

4. Make validation easier

When you’re submitting an application, it’s easy to put all the documents you need in a single folder and send them to the planning officer for validation. However, the validation process can experience severe delays if you haven’t made it easy for the planning officer to identify and navigate the large number of files they’re typically working with. In order to speed things up, try to utilise descriptive file names and to structure the folder in a way that’s easy to understand. For example, rather than simply numbering files, give them titles that are somewhat self-explanatory – naming a document ‘upstairs balcony design.doc’ will mean the planning officer doesn’t have to guess what’s actually contained within the file.

5. Use the right terminology

Jargon and industry-specific terminology are found in every line of work, and planning and construction are no different. When filing your application, it’s important to recognise that planning officers will be accustomed to speaking and writing in the language of planning. Consequently, it’s a good idea to try and incorporate buzz words and planning jargon into your application. Don’t simply throw it in carelessly, but take the time to research how it’s used and what context it typically appears in. This use of language will suggest you understand basic planning practices and may increase your chances of being approved.

There’s no guaranteed tactic for instant planning application success. Instead, it’s necessary to develop a firm understanding of the rules in your area, then ensure you play by them. While many of them may seem unnecessary or unhelpful, it’s only when they meet the expectations of the planning officer that you’ll receive planning permission.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Roderick Campbell

Partner, Head of Commercial Property

Roderick has specialised in property law for 30 years. He trained with Hart Brown, qualifying in 1985 and became a Partner in 1990. He specialises...

Roderick Campbell- Head of Commercial Property

Partner, Head of Commercial Property

Roderick Campbell

Roderick has specialised in property law for 30 years. He trained with Hart Brown, qualifying in 1985 and became a Partner in 1990.

He specialises in all aspects of non-contentious commercial property work including freehold and leasehold acquisitions and disposals; residential development work; options; conditional contracts, development agreements and land promotion agreements. He acts for a broad range of clients including property companies, developers, owner/occupiers and SMEs.

Hart Brown is recognised in the Legal 500 2024 edition for real estate work in the South East and the entry states “Practice head Roderick Campbell is experienced in handling all aspects of non-contentious commercial property work for a broad range of clients, recently specialising in acting for large residents’ associations that manage freehold estates."

In 2008 he published a book on “Methods of Securing Development Land Overage”. He also holds an LLM Masters Degree in Advanced Commercial Property Law with distinction.

He is a member of the Law Society Property Group and LawNet Commercial Property Group.

His most memorable case was acting for a landowner on the grant of an Option Agreement concerning an M25 service area which lasted for some 12 years between exchange and completion!