7 Things you Need to Know About the Prior Approval Process

If you’re new to the world of planning and development, prior approval may well be something you have never even heard of before. However, it is vitally important to be aware of this important process, which may be an integral step in your development plans.

Let’s take a look at what exactly prior approval is, when you might need it and a few other important points to take note of.

So what is prior approval, exactly?

In the UK, there are certain types of modifications that can be made to properties without seeking express planning permission. These are known as permitted development rights, and include things like changing shops to up to dwellings, changing restaurants and cafes to shops and erecting new agricultural buildings.

There are a whole host of permitted developments, however some of these require prior approval. This essentially means that you need to seek the approval of your local planning authority before you begin work. For example, if you are looking to change an agricultural building into a dwelling house, you must seek prior approval for this.

Let’s take a look at seven key points you should know about prior approval!

  1. You should never begin work before prior approval has been granted. The clue’s in the name ‘prior’ approval.
  2. You can find out what types of development require prior approval by looking at the General Permitted Development Order Regulations. These have been changed several times so do look for the most recent consolidated version.
  3. The documents and information you need to supply for the prior approval process will vary based the type of development you’re proposing. For example, you could be asked to submit your designs, details relating to transport impacts of the development or flooding information.
  4. If the local planning authority has not notified you of their decision within the timescale allowed by the Regulations, you can begin work on your development, providing it meets the General Permitted Development Order Regulations.
  5. For larger single storey rear extensions, your local planning authority may consult your immediate neighbours. If they raise an objection, the planning authority will take this into account when making their decision.
  6. Sometimes development rights are time limited. For example, some must be completed within a certain time period, and others are only permitted for a certain number of years. This applies to a range of permitted development rights and not solely to those where prior approval is required.
  7. You can appeal a prior approval rejection under section 78(1)(c) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. Consulting with a town planner can help you tackle this process with the best chance of success.

As long as you provide all of the correct information and documents, the prior approval process should be a great deal simpler than going through a planning application. Prior approval is designed to be much less strict in its requirements as it is reserved for permitted developments.

Hiring a town planner can effectively take all of the hassle out of the prior approval process for you. Your town planner can liaise with your local planning authority, ensuring they receive all of the correct documents to get your application dealt with as swiftly as possible. If you’re unsure about hiring a town planner please read our Guide on When to Hire a Town Planner.