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How CGI can help win planning permission.

February 6, 2024

We deep dive into the areas where CGI can help you secure planning consent quickly and affordably.

Author | Paul Skuse, Oakfield Design & Creation

The different types of planning permission and how CGI can help

When it comes to ‘selling the vision’ of a planning application and giving planners a clear idea about its potential impact, CGI visualisation can be a vital tool. Here we look at some of the different types of planning permission in the UK and how architectural CGI can speed up the process and help you secure a successful outcome.

What is planning permission?
Planning permission allows homeowners, developers and other residential or commercial property professionals to make changes to land or buildings. It’s a legal requirement for anyone looking to construct new buildings or make changes to land or property to apply for planning permission.

There are different types of planning permission in the UK, and each has its own requirements.

The process of obtaining planning permission can be complex, so it’s essential to follow all the necessary steps to avoid delays or penalties.

In most cases, the applicant must submit a planning application to the local planning authority outlining the proposed development and its impact on the surrounding area. The local planning authority will then review the application and decide whether to grant or refuse permission.

Some of the terms you may come across during the planning process include:

Permitted development
Permitted development, in the context of UK planning law, is the term used to describe certain types of development which do not require the prior approval of a local planning authority. It is a relaxation of the normal planning permission process.

The definition of permitted development, together with its associated conditions, is set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.

The purpose of permitted development is to provide a simplified route for minor works that would not normally be refused consent, but also to ensure that these works do not adversely impact neighbouring properties or the character or appearance of an area.

The most common types of permitted residential development are extensions and alterations to buildings, changes of use, and installing solar panels. Larger or more contentious projects may require planning permission even if they fall within permitted development rights. So, checking with your local council before starting work is always advisable.

When it comes to commercial property, the list of permitted developments includes most types of commercial and industrial development, such as new shops, offices and factories. However, there are some restrictions, for example, on the size or height of buildings. In addition, there are specific rules for different areas, such as conservation areas or areas of outstanding natural beauty.

Permitted development rights for residential and commercial properties can be restricted or removed if it would harm the local area, for example, by causing unacceptable noise or traffic congestion.

Reserved Matters
Reserved matters are a specific type of planning permission in the UK. They are used for commercial and industrial developments and allow for greater flexibility in the design or layout of the development or building, the type of materials to be used, or the landscaping scheme.

The developer submits a planning application for the overall scheme and then requests reserved matters approval for specific elements. This allows for a more streamlined process, as it avoids going through a separate application process for each component.

If a developer wants to change any of these reserved matters after planning permission has been granted, they will need to go back to the local authority for further approval. This process can be time-consuming and costly, so it’s vital for developers to get all of the details right at the outset.

Reserved matters are significant in commercial and industrial developments, where small changes can impact the final outcome. In some cases, it may even be necessary to obtain separate planning permission for each reserved matter.

Prior notification
Prior notification is a process under UK planning law that allows certain types of commercial and industrial development to occur without the need to obtain planning permission from the local authority. It is available for developments that meet specific criteria, including that they are not likely to affect the environment or highway safety significantly. Prior notification is not available for residential development. To apply, developers must submit a notice to their local authority outlining the proposal and its effects. The authority then has eight weeks to decide whether to approve or refuse the application. If approved, the development can go ahead as planned; if denied, the developer can appeal the decision.

Certificate of lawfulness
A certificate of lawfulness is a document issued by a local planning authority to confirm that a proposed development is lawfully permitted. The certificate will state the date of decision, the type of development approved and any conditions attached to the permission.

The certificate of lawfulness is an important document for developers as it confirms that their proposed development complies with UK planning law. It can be used as evidence in court if there is a dispute over the development or if someone tries to challenge the planning permission.

The certificate of lawfulness can also be used to show prospective buyers or tenants that the local planning authority has approved the development. This can help attract investment or secure leases for commercial or industrial developments.

Outline planning permission
Outline planning permission allows for developing commercial and industrial estates. This type of permission is less detailed than full planning consent. It allows for the erection of buildings and other structures and the laying out of land for use in commercial or industrial development. Outline planning permission is often used for large-scale projects such as developing new commercial or industrial estates, or schemes considered to be of national importance. It allows developers to proceed with their proposals without having to gain detailed permission for each element. Outline planning permission is also known as ‘general consent’ or ‘class consent’.

Full planning consent
Full planning permission is not normally required for small-scale projects such as home improvements, but is required for most types of commercial or industrial development.

This means that developers must go through a rigorous application process, submitting detailed plans and reports to the local planning authority. This process aims to ensure that any potential negative impacts are mitigated and that the community will benefit from the new development.

One key benefit of obtaining full planning consent is that it gives developers certainty over their projects.

This is especially important for larger developments, which often take several years to complete. In contrast, developments that do not have full planning consent can be subject to change orders and other delays, which can be costly and frustrating for all involved.

However, if permission is granted, it will usually be subject to conditions that must be complied with to avoid penalty charges. It’s worth noting that not all types of development require full planning consent.

How can planning CGI help?
Across the property industry, effective planning is essential for a successful outcome. Using CGI (computer-generated imagery) has revolutionised how planners and developers can plan and visualise new developments.

Planning law can be complex, so using CGI to help plan commercial developments can save time and money. It can help speed up the planning process, as it can provide an accurate representation of how a development will look.

This can help persuade planners and local residents that a scheme is beneficial, to avoid potential objections.

By creating a realistic 3D model of the proposed development, planners can better understand how the finished project will look and identify any potential problems early on. This helps to avoid costly delays further down the line.
CGI can also be used to create marketing materials for new developments. By showing potential investors or tenants a realistic representation of what the finished project will look like, you can increase interest in your scheme and maximise returns on investment.

With more than 30 years’ experience in the property sector, Oakfield understands the planning process and the importance of providing strong imagery to overcome objections and help planners make justifiable decisions.

We offer our clients high-quality, persuasive yet affordable CGI visualisations to support planning applications and give them the best chance of success.

To find out more and talk about your project and how we can help, please get in touch

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