How Long Does Planning Permission Take?

  • July 2023
  • Kieron Peaty

With a few exceptions, obtaining planning permission is a crucial step for anyone looking to build, renovate, or change the use of a property in the UK. Whether you're a homeowner wanting to extend, a developer embarking on a new project, or a business owner seeking to modify your premises, understanding how long it might take to get planning permission is important. In this blog post, we'll delve into the factors that influence the duration of the planning permission process and provide insights on how to navigate through this occasionally complicated journey.

Essex Architect Planning Permission

Factors Affecting Planning Permission Timelines:

  1. Type of Application: The complexity of your application significantly impacts the timeline. There are three main types of planning applications in the UK: householder applications (for smaller residential projects), minor applications, and major applications. Major applications, involving larger developments, tend to take longer due to their complexity and potential impact on the surrounding area.
  2. Local Authority: The LPA responsible for your area plays a crucial role. The processing times can vary from one authority to another, influenced by factors like workload, resources, and efficiency. Generally, urban areas with high development activities might experience longer processing times.
  3. Project Size and Scope: Larger projects with substantial alterations or new construction are likely to face more scrutiny and, consequently, a longer processing time. These projects might necessitate thorough assessments of environmental impact, traffic considerations, and community consultation.
  4. Pre-Application Process: Many applicants choose to engage in a pre-application process with the local authority before submitting their formal application. While this adds time upfront, it can lead to smoother processing later by addressing potential issues in advance.
  5. Environmental and Heritage Considerations: Projects located in conservation areas, near listed buildings, or in ecologically sensitive zones require more stringent assessments. This can extend the timeline due to the need for expert consultations and additional reviews.
  6. Community Engagement: The local community's opinions and concerns are often considered during the planning process. This may involve consultations, public meetings, and addressing objections, which can add time to the overall process.
  7. Appeals and Revisions: If your initial application is rejected or if you need to make revisions based on feedback, the process will naturally be extended.

Estimated Timelines:

While specific timelines can vary widely, it's helpful to have a general idea of what to expect during the planning permission process in the UK:

  1. Householder Applications: 8 weeks.
  2. Minor Applications: 8 weeks, like householder applications.
  3. Major Applications: 13 weeks or more.
  4. Applications subject to an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): 16 weeks

S40 Top Tips for Navigating the Process

  1. Early Planning: Start your planning well in advance to account for potential delays. Engage in pre-application discussions with your local authority to iron out any concerns beforehand.
  2. Thorough Documentation: Ensure your application is complete and well-documented. Missing or incomplete information can lead to delays.
  3. Engage Experts (like us!): If your project has environmental or heritage considerations, involve experts early on to streamline the assessment process.
  4. Community Involvement: Engage with the local community and address concerns proactively to potentially prevent objections that could extend the timeline.
  5. Stay Updated: Regularly communicate with your local authority for updates on your application's progress.
  6. Wait: Do not start building until you’ve received your planning permission. If you do, then you may need to apply for planning consent retrospectively.
  7. Planning vs Building Regs: Planning permission is different to Building Regulations (Regs) approval, which is obtained by submitting an entirely different application. Plans approved under the planning act are not approved under the Building Regulations.


Obtaining planning permission in the UK is a crucial but often intricate process. The timeline can vary widely based on factors like project complexity, local authority efficiency, and community engagement. By understanding these factors, preparing thoroughly, and engaging with the relevant stakeholders, you can navigate the planning permission process more effectively, ensuring your project moves forward with minimal delays. Remember, patience and persistence are key when embarking on this journey towards bringing your vision to life.

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