Self-build homes: How to get planning permission

  • 10 Jul 2015

The public’s desire to construct their own homes has grown in the past few years, following an influx in television shows, such as Grand Designs.

The government has also offered its support to self-build projects, making loans available to community groups and releasing public land to accommodate new properties as part of its housing initiative.

Between 7-10 per cent of the UK’s new housing stock is thought to be constructed through self-build projects, demonstrating the UK’s strong desire to build their own homes.

CRL’s guidelines have been designed to talk you through the process of obtaining planning permission

Self-build planning

Once you have found a suitable plot of land for your project, you’ll need to enlist the help of a professional: project managers can do this for you, although many choose to pick architects, designers and surveyors themselves.

Following the introduction of the new Construction (Design & Management) Regulations 2015, there is now a requirement for domestic clients to understand a project’s health and safety requirements.

Steve Mansour, Group CEO at CRL

The client’s duties can be transferred on to the contractor; alternatively, the client can choose to have a written agreement with the principal designer to carry them out.

After this has been established, CRL recommends beginning the planning process as soon as possible.

By consulting the local authority’s planning department, you can determine what you will and won’t be able to do.

Preliminary guidance and full copies of your ‘Local Plan’ are available via your planning department. These can give you an overview of the area’s planning constraints.

Alternatively, councils can offer formal pre-application advice for a fee, which can give you a better idea of the key issues that may arise.

This guidance can be used to inform your design; you can then formally submit the plans for approval.


Central government has a set target of eight weeks for the assessment of planning applications, though some councils can be quicker.

The progress of your application can be tracked through the local authority’s website, which details any problems that may be identified.

It can be worth withdrawing and re-submitting an application that encounters difficulties, rather than waiting for refusal. However, CRL recommends consulting a professional before making any decisions regarding your application.

Refusal and appeals  

Unfortunately, previous refusals of self-build plans can fuel future ones, making many proposed sites unsustainable in the eyes of the local authority.

If you feel your application has been unreasonably refused, you can appeal to the Department of Communities and Local Government’s Planning Inspectorate.

However, this comes with its own set of complications; after lodging your appeal, a year’s wait for a response is not uncommon.

Again, CRL recommends talking to a professional consultant before deciding how to handle a rejection.


Once you are granted planning permission, you must ensure your project adheres to the UK’s current Building Regulations.

Unlike planning permission, Building Regulations are less open to interpretation. If your project does not meet their criteria, it will fail.

The government’s planning portal offers further information on this.

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