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How Long Does a Planning Application Take?

How Long Does a Planning Application Take?

BeforeBricks Marketing Team
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Gaining planning permission in England can be a somewhat lengthy process, and the planning system shows no signs of speeding up in 2023. As soon as you submit your planning permission application, you need to brace yourself for weeks, sometimes months, of waiting. So, how long does planning permission take? Is there a set amount of time? 

Let's take a look.

How long does it take to get planning permission in 2023?

Planning permission typically takes between 8 and 13 weeks. Although in 2023, a significant percentage of submitted applications are expected to take longer than 13 weeks, so if you're aiming to start construction on a project within six months, it is advised to start design and planning now. When we are talking about the length of the planning permission process here, we are talking purely from once that application has been submitted. Well, from when it has been validated. 

There is actually a lengthy bit before you submit anything. You will have to obtain various documents, such as architectural drawings. This is something that can take a good while in itself. But, once you have submitted the application, the process should be fairly predictable.

The good news is that there are laws that explicitly state how long the planning permission process should be. 

The bad news is that, in recent years, many planning applications have gone beyond the statutory maximum length of time. This is due to COVID-19 putting a huge amount of strain on planning staff. Although, thankfully, this is something that should ease up as time goes on.

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Stages of the planning application process

Validation Process

When you submit a planning application, it isn't posted right away. Instead, it has to go through a validation process. This is where staff just give it a cursory glance to ensure that it is all in order. It will then be posted to the public.

There is no statutory maximum length of time for the validation process. This process could take a few days, or it could take many weeks. You have absolutely no control over this part of the process, and it is the place where the vast majority of applications seem to be getting stuck at the moment.

The Review Process

This is where the statutory minimum starts to kick in. This stage occurs when your application has been validated and it becomes visible to the public. There are three different ways that your planning application can be categorized:

1. Household and Other Minor Work

In most cases, you are going to fall into this category. Building a conservatory, adding an extension to your house, etc. is all going to be minor work. Just basic household stuff. If you built a whole new house, it may fall into the next category. However, for most modifications to the home, this is the route your application will be going down.

Here, the planning permission process should take a maximum of 8 weeks.

2. Large Developments

For large-scale developments or modifications to a home that could be highly controversial, the process can take as long as 13 weeks.

3. Development That Requires an Environmental Assessment

If you live in a protected area, or if your building is likely to have an impact on the area, then you may fall under this category. The process here can be as long as 16 weeks. This is because an environmental officer will be called in to have a look at your application.

What Happens When You Seek Planning Permission?

Assuming that your application has been validated and has been listed to the public, then two things happen. The length of time will be dependent on how your application has been categorized.

The first is that the application will be made public. 

Your neighbours will also receive a letter. At this point, people can make their thoughts known about the application. If they are not happy with you seeking planning permission, then they have to state their reasons why. 

The council should make this easy for them to do. Do note that even if somebody is not happy with your application, it doesn't mean that your application will be rejected. It just means that the planning officer will look a little bit closer at it.

The next step will be for your application to be formally reviewed. The planning officer will look into any complaints. They will also need to make a decision as to whether they need an environmental assessment carried out.

Towards the end of the 8 week period, you will be told whether your application has been accepted or is likely to be rejected. If it is likely to be rejected, you will be given the reasons why.

What Happens If Your Planning Permission Application Takes Too Long?

As we said, there are statutory maximums for planning permission. The local councils try to do their best to stick to these statutory maximums. The problem is that it can be tough if an application is particularly complicated or if they are short-staffed, as has been the case throughout COVID-19.

If your application has not received approval by the end of the statutory period, you will be asked for permission to extend the application. You can also withdraw it at this point and get a refund. The local council can keep doing this as long as they like. They can not extend the process unilaterally, though. They are always going to require you to sign off on the extension.

If the process is taking an incredibly long time (and it is unlikely to do so if you are a homeowner), then you can appeal to the Secretary of State, who can make a decision. 

Although this is a convoluted legal process, which we won't go into here. This is something that large developments often have to go through. It is never going to be an issue for those who own a home and want to add a simple home extension.


So to recap, planning permission can take anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks, with most applications falling at the lower end of the scale. This is the statutory maximum, although councils can extend the process for as long as they want, although they must keep seeking your permission if they wish to do this.

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