Damson Cottage Garden

Planning permission

We have spent the last year applying for planning permission for a double storey extension to our tiny Cambridgeshire cottage. Here are 6 things I wish I had known about the joys of planning permission:

1. You can draw your own plans. I did. It was relatively easy, time consuming, but satisfying – especially when the plans were accepted by the planners. I paid for and downloaded iDraw (a design app) to make the scale plans on my mac book air. Its a great app and easy to use – you can adjust the paper size (A3 etc) and the line size drawn so you can easily mock up your drawings. You can look at plans submitted to your local council on-line to get an idea of whats needed. I also wrote our ‘design and access statement’.

Drawing plans for permission

2. Exterior matters. Planning permission is granted for how the property will look on the outside – how it will fit in with the local area, how it will effect your neighbours and the look of your property. Windows, doors, roof lines, heights and exterior walls are important – interior walls, shower placement, kitchen layout etc are not.

3. Architects are paid to draw plans – this does not guarantee approval. We originally paid an architect to draw us some plans for a front double storey extension and an annex. This cost upwards of £1800 for the plans, design and access statement and submission to the planners. The plans got rejected. Our £1800 was painfully wasted. Our architect would not draw more plans unless we were willing to may him the same again.

4. Talk to the planners. I totally overlooked this one. I naively thought that if an architect said the plans we wanted would get approved, they would get approved. Seriously, I can’t stress this one enough. Make an appointment with the on call planning officer and talk about your ideas before you think about hiring an architect. Your architect may not care whether it gets accepted – they will get paid by you anyway. Make sure the planners think the application is worth submitting.

5. Try and be flexible. In the pre-application discussion, if the planners say ‘no way’ – it will save you a lot of time and energy to think of a different plan you are both happy with rather than fight them.

6. It takes ages. Seriously. Aaaaaaaages. When the planner told me that it usually takes a year between hiring an architect and starting work I thought ‘what a pessimist – with me pushing things, we will be done in 6 months’. Oh how wrong I was. It takes ages. I’m not wanting to put you off. It’s just slow. It has certainly taught me a little about patience!

This is a pic of the back of our house – the extension will go on here…

The before


Let me know about your experience and tips with planning permission, Jane

10 Responses to Planning permission

  1. Tim says:

    Fantastic, thanks very much. We are wanting to do an extension. Let us know how it goes (with lots of photos of the work please!)

    • admin says:

      I certainly will, Thanks, Jane

  2. Al says:

    Haha. I read your post with a knowing smile. We have just applied for planning permission and I wish I read your post first! It looks like we all have the same problems and make the same mistakes. Great blog… thanks :)

    • admin says:

      I wish you the best of luck Al. I will definitely keep you posted about our progress. Jane

  3. Sally says:

    What a lovely cottage. You are very mucky to have suck a pretty place to live

    • admin says:

      Thanks Sally, very ‘lucky’ indeed

  4. Sally says:

    Haha – sorry Jane – I meant ‘you are very ‘lucky’ to have such a lovely place to live, not ‘mucky”!!!

    • admin says:

      Haha! I thought that was what you meant! Jane

  5. Kate says:

    You have inspired me to draw my plans – at least for the planners and architect to have an idea of exactly what I want! Great post :)

    • admin says:

      Thats wonderful to hear, thanks Kate. Jane

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