Our no-cost design and planning permission services are great options if you need to be cost conscious and want to channel as much of your budget as possible into your project’s build costs. Both services draw on over 30 years’ experience enabling us to help you develop your plans to the point where planning success is highly likely. However, it’s important to understand how our services differ from those of a planning consultant or architect.

You’re in the driving seat

The first thing to highlight is that, while we have lots of advice and guidance to offer, the onus is on the self-builder to come to us with all the available information in relation to your site. For example, any planning conditions associated with outline planning permission will be crucial to the design stage. These conditions will help us advise you in relation to what’s most appropriate for the site. For example, if planning has stipulated a certain building type, e.g. a one and a half storey dwelling finished in stone, then your chances of success with a two-storey rendered house become slim. Any planning conditions will help outline what can realistically be achieved. By adhering to these conditions and working to meet them, your planning application will have a higher probability of approval.

What happens if you decide to challenge planning conditions?

Choosing to challenge your Local Authority Council (LAC) on pre-existing planning conditions will increase the risk of planning being refused. At this stage we would charge a flat fee of £1500+VAT to proceed with your planning application. This gives us some security in relation to the time our team will invest in your project. If your application is subsequently approved, this planning fee will be deducted from the cost of your timber frame.

Understanding your LACs priorities

Architects and planning consultants who work locally will know from experience what works in their area. Because we deal with so many LACs across the UK, it is difficult for us to have a handle on the preferences of every LAC. As such, at the early design stage we recommend that you familiarise yourself with your local authority’s design guidance. You may be able to find this online. You should include details of this with any initial design brief you supply to us.

You may also find that your local authority offers a pre-application service. This can be helpful in providing greater certainty in relation to the outcome of your application and may speed up the application process. This can be particularly helpful if you have a virgin site (a plot which hasn’t previously had any planning applications). If available, (not every LAC offer this as an option) it will serve to point you in the right direction and offer a place to start in terms of dwelling type and finishings etc.

You’re in the driving seat throughout the process

If you’re looking for a design-led project, then we would always suggest that you seek the services of a good architect. Our design service is distinct in that it is client led. We’ll take your aspirations for your site and your new build and translate these into a design. While our design team are highly experienced architectural designers and will offer lots of advice and guidance, their feedback will not have relevance to your local authority’s requirements, unless you tell us about them. It’s imperative that any planning conditions are factored into this.

How do I get started with planning?

As soon as you are ready to start the planning process you will be introduced to one of our planning technicians who will take our sketched designs and convert these into drawings suitable for submission to planning. These drawings consist of floor plans, elevations, a site plan and location plan. This process will take 6 weeks. On completion our technicians will seek your approval prior to submission to your LAC. Once submitted, we will forward you details to remit the requisite planning fee direct to your council. We will act as your agent throughout the duration of the application and will be the point of contact between you and the LAC. Depending on your location the application will take in region of 8-10 weeks. Although if it hits snags, it could take longer.

What if the council require specific surveys or reports?

As part of the planning process (and conditions) you may on occasion find there are surveys required in relation to your plot. Examples include an ecological survey (to establish if there are likely to be any impacts on the habitats of protected species such as Great Crested Newts and Bats resulting from your build). A heritage statement (to establish whether any heritage assets might be affected by your build) might also be requested. If you choose to use your LAC’s pre-application service, you might be alerted to the fact that surveys are required at this early stage. Although we can offer some advice, we do not facilitate the delivery of these surveys and you will be required to seek the services of third-party specialists. Once you come back with the reports, we’ll submit these as part of your application. In some particularly tricky scenarios, we might suggest that you seek the services of a planning consultant to ensure you receive the most appropriate advice in relation to your specific plot/build.

In Summary

You’ll find our design and planning teams knowledgeable, helpful and experienced. We’ll work closely with you to help you successfully achieve the design and planning stages of your self-build project, but it is important to remember that we will take our lead from you, the client. Having highlighted that we are not an architectural practice or planning consultants, we’re confident that you will find our design and planning advice and guidance valuable and always offered in the best interests of your project.