If you require planning permission for building work, you will need to submit a planning application to the local planning authority. Based on the information provided, they will then make a decision on whether they can approve the project or not.

On paper, this might seem like a simple process. However, the planning application first needs to be validated to make sure it’s ready to be considered—and this part of the process isn’t always as quick and easy as it seems.

What makes up a planning application?

There are three parts to every planning application:

  • A standard planning application form (as introduced by the Government in 2008)
  • Required supporting documentation
  • Correct fee

Each of these parts needs to be completed and submitted correctly or the application will be deemed invalid. And while there are several national standards in place when it comes to these applications, local planning authorities will each have their own approach to the stringency of the validation process—especially around the supporting documentation needed.

The application form and consent types

The application is made on a standard form introduced by the Government in 2008 to help simplify the process. It can be completed and submitted either by post or online via the Planning Portal (albeit with some restrictions, see below).

However, while having a standardised application form takes some confusion out of the equation, every development will be different, which means that each will need to apply for different consent types. Get this information wrong and your application is automatically invalid.

Providing the correct supporting documentation

The mandatory supporting documentation of each planning application must include:

  • the national information requirements (the ‘national list’)
  • any information specified as required by the local planning authority (the ‘local list’)

National list

These are the statutory requirements for all national applications. National requirements for validation are contained in paragraph 22 of the Planning Practice Guidance (PPG) and if the local list (see below) is not up-to-date, only the information in the national list can be requested.

Aside from the application form itself, these documents must include:

  • at least two plans, including a location plan and a site plan;
  • an ownership certificate
  • an Agricultural Holdings Certificate
  • a design and access statement (if required)

(See the national list requirements here for a more comprehensive breakdown.)

Local list

As well as the national requirements, each planning application is required to provide relevant information as specified by the local planning authority.

Under the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), paragraph 39 states: “A local planning authority may request supporting information with a planning application. Its requirements should be specified on a formally adopted ‘local list’ which has been published on its website less than 2 years before an application is submitted. Local information requirements have no bearing on whether a planning application is valid unless they are set out on such a list.”

As mentioned, however, issues with planning application validation can be more common at a local level. This is because each local planning authority will vary in terms of the supporting documentation they want to see in a planning application and they will be more subjective over their analysis of the site.

Once again, we encourage checking with your authority before submitting an application to help clarify exactly what you need to provide them. The information needed should be published on their website.

Application fees

The correct fee is payable at the time the application is submitted for validation and consideration. You can find details of the costs for different planning applications in A Guide to the Fees for Planning Applications in England, but if you are unsure please check with your local planning authority before applying.

Validation times

Most minor planning applications should be validated within a week (or 5 working days) of their receipt. However, validation of the more major planning applications may take up to two weeks (10 working days).

Once valid, the application can then be assigned a reference number and placed on the planning register ready to be considered for approval.