Planning Applications and Development Consent Orders

Amanda Beresford, Head of Planning, answers some of your questions.

When do I need to apply for planning permission?

Generally speaking, any development of land which involves building, engineering, mining or other operations, or the making of a material change in the use of any buildings or land, will require planning permission. However, if the development falls within certain categories of “permitted development”, which are specified by law, planning permission is in effect automatically granted pursuant to relevant legislation.

What factors will the Local Planning Authority (LPA) take into account in determining my planning application?

The law provides that planning permission should be granted in accordance with the provisions of the statutory development plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The starting point therefore is always to check what the current development plan says about the site. Reference will then be made to other material considerations so for example, if the plan is out of date there may be emerging new plans which have to be considered. The National Planning Policy contained in the National Planning Policy Framework will also have to be considered. If the application is for residential development the Council’s ability to meet identified housing need will also be a material consideration. There may also be some difficulties with issues such as site access or flooding which may need to be taken into account.

Are there different types of permission I can apply for?

Yes. You can apply for a full planning permission which grants permission for all aspects of the proposed development. Alternatively, outline planning permission can be obtained in some cases. This seeks agreement in principle to the proposed development without a commitment to a particular form or design. Those matters not included in an outline permission are referred to as reserved matters and approval of any reserved matters must be obtained from the Local Planning Authority before development can lawfully proceed. It is also possible to apply for a hybrid application. This seeks outline planning permission for one part and full planning permission for another part of the same site. There are also further applications which might be made, for example an application to renew a planning permission where the permission is subject to a time limit condition which is about to expire, or the removal or alteration of  planning conditions attached to any grant of planning permission.

Will I need to get other permissions as well as planning permission?

Possibly yes. Depending on the circumstances the proposed development may need listed building consent, environmental impact assessment, habitats regulation assessment, planning agreements, highways agreements, scheduled ancient monument consent, stopping up or diversion of footpaths, bridleways or highways orders etc. The law surrounding permissions for development is increasingly complex and it is vital to take advice on the overall strategic position early in the process in order to minimise the risk of judicial review and ensure that any build programmes can be met.

What is the relationship between the planning permission and land ownership?

Planning permission runs with the land so any owner of the land can implement it. You do not need to own land to apply for planning permission on it. It is important to consider ownership in the context of any planning application to ensure that all of the land required to implement the development or to comply with any other licences or consents, is within the control of the applicant. It is also important to look at other real estate issues early in the process, such as the status of various footpaths, bridleways or highways and whether or not there are any other common land rights or coal authority permits required.  

What happens if my planning permission is refused? Can I appeal?

Yes. There is a right of appeal to the Secretary of State. Usually the time limit for lodging the appeal is 6 months. If the appeal is unsuccessful there may be a further right of legal challenge.

What is a Development Consent Order (DCO)?

Some development projects, usually those that are significant in scale, will fall within the legal definition of a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. In such cases, rather than planning permission, a consent will be required from the Minister for Nationally Significant Infrastructure projects in the form of a DCO. Such an order combines a grant of planning permission with a range of other separate consents such as listed building consents and compulsory purchase orders. Applications for DCO’s are usually submitted to the National Infrastructure Directorate of the Planning Inspectorate. 

Is the process for a DCO different to an application for planning permission?

Yes. The process comprises six key stages including pre-application acceptance, pre-examination, examination in public, decision and post-decision stages. Upon receipt of an application for development consent, the Planning Inspectorate has 28 days to decide whether or not to accept it. The Inspectorate then has 6 months to examine an application and 3 months to make its recommendation. Independent inspectors make their recommendations to the Secretary of State within the framework provided by the Government’s National Policy Statement.

Our team

Amanda Beresford


Head of Planning

Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 8070

Lyn Dario


Head of Environmental & Regulatory

Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 3779

Stuart Lumb



Direct Line +44 (0)113 297 3781

Emma Thomas



Direct Line +44 (0)113 288 2842