Why planning permission is never a given

When searching for a property, buyers are often attracted to those with planning permission to extend. In most cases, the sales price of the property already factors in the extra space you could add if planning permission is granted.

Do be careful, though, as I’ve done many viewings with estate agents where they’ve talked about how the property can be extended, even when planning permission isn’t in place. Although they do point that out, in some cases buyers then purchase the property on the assumption that planning permission will be granted – only for their application to get rejected. Planning permission is never a given, and even if a precedent has been set by neighbours, there’s no guarantee that you will be granted permission to do the same. For example, your neighbour could have carried out their extension many years ago when planning policies were different.

A change in local government can affect your case, too. I heard of one case recently in Fulham, which has just become a Labour-led council, where the planning officer was less than sympathetic for the owners of large, expensive houses in the area who wanted to create even more internal space by converting their lofts. In this particular case, the houses on the opposite side of the street were given permission to convert their lofts, once more than a certain percentage of street owners applied. However, when an even higher percentage of the other side of the street all put in a joint application to do the same, they were rejected on a number of grounds.

If you are buying a property and your purchase is highly dependent on certain planning permissions being granted, I would always advise speaking to a planning specialist before you go ahead with the purchase as they’ll be able to give you a good idea of what is likely. In many cases, it can make sense to ask the planning specialist to handle your application themselves – and any appeal if you need to make one. A superb application or appeal case can be the difference between you gaining the permissions you need or not, so it really can be worth every penny.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email enquire@eccord.com or tweet her @joeccles.