Get the Planning right

Obtaining Planning Permission is a huge step forward in your self build journey.

To achieve Planning Permission, you will need to convince the local Planning Officers that your design is the best thing that could happen to this site.

Always consider the chances of obtaining planning permission when you view a plot
Hunting down your planning permission? It’s a jungle out there

How you approach the planning application process could mean the difference between your project receiving approval, or otherwise. Knowledge of the planning process may not be enough to guide your design largely intact through the planning regulations. In the more complex projects, experience of how the local planning officers interpret the planning laws may be required. This is where local planning consultants provide value.

It’s worth taking the time to research the planning process so that you can decide with some confidence on the optimal approach for your project.

Types of planning permission

Two types of planning permission exist, Outline Planning Permission (OPP) and Detailed Planning Permission (DPP). The OPP confirms that the nature of a proposed development is acceptable to the local planning authority. The DPP incorporates the approval of the OPP with various Reserved Matters such as appearance, means of access, landscaping, layout and scale.

The ideal scenario is the purchase of a site that already has DPP for exactly the type of house you have in mind. The next-best scenario is the purchase of a site with OPP, for roughly the type of house you have in mind. This allows you to apply for DPP, hopefully securing your preferences.

Where you are purchasing a site without any type of planning permission, you need to be very careful. Your acquisition of a site should be conditional upon securing planning permission. If you are not able to secure OPP or DPP prior to an acquisition, you will need to conduct some fairly detailed research prior to your site purchase.

Your site needs to have planning permission for the type and size of dwelling that you wish to self-build. Many consultants recommend attending a pre-planning meeting and working with the officers in order to secure a positive outcome.

I’ve included some site consideration advice in my article Evaluate the site.

Who will prepare the Planning Application?

There are several options available to you:


If you have already appointed an architect to prepare the house design, it makes sense to appoint the same person to manage the planning process. An architect is useful where the site or the design has specific planning challenges that need to be overcome.

You can find a selection of architects with a self-build portfolio on the Professionals search page.

Planning Consultant

The planning consultant is also a good choice where the site or the design has specific challenges. This is an expensive option as you will be paying fees for two professionals, architect and planning consultant, to process the planning application.

Architectural Technologist

An architectural technologist might be the solution for a standard planning application. This could be where you have a standard family house design, a site that ticks all the planning regulation boxes and a fairly benign environment. The architectural technologist will provide excellent value for money if this particular professional processes the planning application.

Do It Yourself

You can submit your own planning application. You don’t need any particular qualifications or experience to do this, just some time to read through the guidance on the Planning Portal. Obviously, this will not transform you in to a planning expert. However, it will be enough if you are submitting a straightforward application that falls well within the planning guidelines.

Apply for planning permission
Apply for planning permission after careful preparation

Select any of the above planning routes at any time during the plot-search and the house design phases. There is a 5th route you could select but this is only available as part of a house package. This route is provided by Package Suppliers who will bundle design, planning, fabrication and erection into one product. This may be suitable if you want a company to manage the entire process for you.

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