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Business owner JJ Heath-Caldwell added an extra 50 per cent of living space to his home in Hampshire.

He describes how surprisingly quick and easy it was to get planning permission for a two-storey extension and loft conversion – without forking out for professional fees.

“I made an application for planning permission to my local city council,” recalls JJ, describing the start of the project to extend his detached four-bedroom home in a village north of Winchester.  “Two months later they said yes!

“Looking back, I was surprised that planning consent was granted so easily.  I had heard many friends’ tales of woe about refused planning applications. Even more annoying, lots of money wasted on hiring planning consultants and application fees to the council.”

Initially, JJ considered hiring a planning consultant to guide him through the process. But he was interested to find out more for himself, so did an online search for ‘planning permission Winchester City Council.’

“The local council website came straight up and contained lots of information about planning permission. I had found an excellent place to start.

“For some projects, such as loft conversions or conservatories, planning permission isn’t required as they are considered to be ‘permitted development’.  However, for my extension, planning permission was required.  I read on. 

“There were lots of notes, most of them common sense, saying in effect the council would look favourably on applications for extensions that were not obtrusive to the neighbours or to the local environment.  It also recommended that the applicant talked to neighbours to inform them about the proposed project.”

Gaining planning permission
Gaining planning permission

Gaining planning permission does not have to be a nightmare

Applications can be made online. JJ drew a simple floor plan of his proposed scheme to save professional fees. It had to include dimensions and show his property’s boundaries. With help from a builder friend, he filled in the form online and paid the £172 application fee

His next step was to talk to the neighbours.

“I live in a small close of nine houses, all built in the 1990s. It is a nice little community and we all get on well. None of our neighbours were looking forward to the disruption from such a large construction project in the close however they were all positive and no one had any objection.”

The city council sent JJ an orange planning notice to display outside his home.  This statutory notice gives brief details of the scheme and gives locals a chance to object or support a project before a final decision is made by the council to refuse or grant permission.

Next a building control officer visited. JJ said: “I showed him around and we discussed the proposed project. He couldn’t make any promises but didn’t see any problems and as none of my neighbours had objected, felt there was a good chance the application would be approved.

“Another week ticked by and I logged onto the council website to see how my application was progressing. I was aghast to read that two of my neighbours had raised objections. These were not neighbours within my close but two of the more distant neighbours behind our back fence.

“When I had spoken to these neighbours a month earlier none of them had raised any objections!” said JJ. Concerns included the extension was not in keeping with other houses in the village and would take their natural light. However, JJ’s two-storey side extension was designed to blend seamlessly with the existing house. Moreover, it wouldn’t take the sunlight as his property was north-west of the objector.

Despite being annoyed, he wisely decided against confronting the neighbours.

“Another week passed by and again I logged on to check progress.  The page stated: ‘permission granted’.  I had to read it three or four times before I realised that it really had gone through okay.  What a fantastic result!  I could now put my plan into full swing and start my building project.”

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