Five top tips from a planning consultant

by 15th Mar, 2013

Planning permission can seem like a complex issue – it is certainly an issue we are asked many questions about! We have a great deal experience in working on behalf of clients to gain planning permission and we also work with expert planning consultants when the situation requires.

We asked a planning consultant we work with, David Keyte, for his top five tips on planning in relation to the type of development we come across on a regular basis – small scale residential development, i.e. new houses, barn conversions and domestic extensions.

Here’s what he had to say:

1. Do your proposals involve the development of land?

If they don’t then planning permission is not required. Development is defined as “the carrying out of building, mining, engineering or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land.” Some notable exceptions include works that only affect the interior of a building or works that do not materially affect the external appearance of a building.

2. Do I need to submit a planning application?

Some forms of development may already be granted deemed planning permission by means of a development order. If this is the case, the answer is ‘no’. An application for a certificate of lawfulness is a means of asking the local planning authority to formally confirm this is the case. Development orders can permit extensions, outbuildings or even some changes of use.

3. Know your facts

Everyone is an expert if given the opportunity to make comments. Recognising and taking heed of the correct advice as opposed to hearsay or mistaken guidance is essential. So many developments/applications start off on the wrong foot as a result of misguided albeit well intended advice.

4. Who’s right?

When determining what it is you want to build and preparing a planning application, it is vital to understand the position and views of all concerned – the local planning authority, neighbours and yourself. This can avoid abortive work and over ambitious expectations but importantly provide a sound base from which to negotiate. Similar recent examples can also provide valuable lessons.

5. Spot the loophole

This is not so much about gaining a planning permission that blatantly ought not to be granted but rather recognising the factors that are material to determining a planning application and using them to your advantage. Your case is only as good as it is presented and you should present the best case you can.

Ever changing planning policy

A sixth tip? Not really, it is just an overarching principle to be applied in all cases. Planning Policy changes and seems ever changing at present. Recognising what is relevant and what has just been superseded will be instrumental in formulating your ideas and arguments.

About David Keyte

David Keyte is a Chartered Town Planner with over 30 years’ experience in a wide range of statutory planning disciplines gained in both the public and private sectors. After lengthy spells with Solihull MBC and GVA Grimley, in 2002 he successfully launched a regional base in Cheltenham for a national practice and established his own firm in early 2011. He is a proven problem solver who adopts a forensic, honest and commercially orientated approach to complex planning matters across a broad range of development types including planning applications, appeals, certificates of lawful use, enforcement, permitted development and discovering development potential. You can find out more about David at