How to submit a planning application

Planning Permission is not normally required for the normal repairs and updates to your home (redecorating, etc.).

If you are thinking of extending your property (a side extension, a loft extension, etc.) then you may need Planning Permission. You may also need permission if you are proposing exterior changes to your property and you live in a Conservation Area.

Hounslow Council provide pre-application advice as to whether you do need permission, and what sort of development would be likely to be approved here (  https://www.hounslow.gov.uk/info/20063/pre-application_advice/1154/pre-application_advice ). This is not a free service, but we would recommend you consider it to increase the chances of your application going smoothly.

In addition they produce a very good guide to the planning process, which can be accessed here (https://www.hounslow.gov.uk/info/20035/planning_permission/1537/hounslow_planning_guide ).

In addition to all the advice in these documents, we would suggest the following

  • Talk to your neighbours. If you are planning a significant extension to your house, or major building work, then talk to your neighbours and try and reach an agreed position where they support your application. Hounslow Council are more likely to approve an application with no objections (or even with letters of support) than one with objections from neighbours
  • Talk to Hounslow Council. The council have a series of rules and guidelines to ensure that development in the area is appropriate. They apply these consistently and require all developments to conform to them. They will guide you (and/or your builder / architect) as to what is permissible. All too often planning applications for extensions to homes are submitted without having done this. The council then find the application does not conform in some area and refuse the application, and often (if the change is relatively small) explain what is required to get it approved. These can be relatively small changes (e.g. moving a proposed new wall by a meter). But by not seeking the advice of the council beforehand, or not following it, the applicant now has the additional cost of having all the plans redrawn, and to pay to submit the application a second time, as well as the time delay which will be at least a few months.
  • Follow the Planning Process. The number of planning applications to the council every year is well into four figures. To manage these and ensure each is treated consistently, they have a very specific process to be followed. Don’t try and shortcut the process. Allow plenty of time for your application to be processed before you plan to start work. In our experience you should allow at least three months for your application to be processed and for you to get all the approvals needed to start work). It can be quicker than this; but equally it can be a LOT longer if your application hits problems.
  • Do not build first, seek approval later. Please do not go ahead with your proposed extensions, and then seek planning permission afterwards, assuming once it’s built you can be sure of getting planning permission. If your development wouldn’t get planning permission beforehand, it won’t get it once it’s been built. If anything it is less likely to get permission. The council have a robust enforcement process whereby they require developments that were built without planning permission, and for which they refuse retrospective permission, to be torn down and the property returned to the state it was in before the building work.  This can end up being a very expensive path to follow.
  • Do not keep quiet and assume Hounslow Council won’t find out. Please do not undertake some work that requires planning permission and try and keep quiet about it. The likes of Google Maps means it is comparatively easy for the council to find out about unauthorized building work; and when they find out, they do take action.