Searching for the ‘One’

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold an MA in Planning and work as a Planning Consultant

A little reference to the Matrix film there to start, but basically, that’s what this post is about. How to search to find that one particular planning permission you’re looking for. Well with this post I’m going to give some tips when using your local planning authorities website on how to find planning permission applications.

You may be searching for a particular planning permission because its similar to a project you’re planning. In my case, if a client has a project which may be contentious, I try to find similar previous decisions. I’ll then review the planning officers report and read their interpretation of the planning issues discussed.

It’s always important to remember that each case in planning is different and will be judged on its own merits. The weight that is given to each material planning consideration changes in the planning balance. However, what previous planning permissions can be used for are examples of how the policy was applied. While each case is judged on its own merits there also needs to be consistency on how local policy is applied.

Planning Permission Search Tips
A fairly typical search box for planning applications, this example is from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC)

TIP 1: Start with the Post Code alone

Now with some local authority planning application search boxes if you don’t type the address exactly as they have it on their records it will return no results. Therefore it’s best to start with just the postcode. Also, try the postcode with a space and without a space, this can also effect if you get any results or not.

Improved Planning Permission Search Options

Obviously, local planning authorities have provided the ability for many years now to search via their websites. However, until the last couple of years, you have only been able to use text search. Therefore you would need the address of the property. Well in some cases you do not know the address of the property, or you are trying to do a more general search. In these cases, text search can be quite painful, and often return ‘no results found’ when that’s actually not the case.

TIP 2: Look for the ‘Search by Map’ Option

Within the last couple of years, interactive mapping has been made available by many local authorities on their planning websites. In some cases such as with the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, you can enable options such as Green Belt and it will shade the map accordingly. Functions such as this are very useful for a planning consultant such as my self to evaluate a proposal.

Planning permission search map
A screen show of the online mapping provided by SDMC highlighting the Green Belt.

What you can also do in many cases is search on the map for ongoing planning applications and previous planning permissions. Being able to visually see the location of the application often makes it much quicker to find what you’re looking for.

TIP 3: Make Good Use of the Date Functions

Just searching via a postcode will often return far more results than you are really interested in. Therefore a good way to narrow down your search is to use the date range criteria. You can select a start date and end date for your search.

For example, I may wish to search for applications that received planning permission after a new local plan was adopted. I will then enter the start date of my search after the local plan was adopted.

TIP 4: Search via Application Type

If you know the application you are looking for was for a home extension, then search for a householder planning application. However, if the extension was completed under PD then you will not find planning permission for the works. Therefore also search for an LDC, as one may have been submitted one to the council.

TIP 5: Don’t Forget the Appeal Search

At the bottom of most the planning search options, there is a date range to search for appeals. This is also a very useful tool, particularly if your local authority has informed you via pre-application advice that your proposals are inappropriate.

Planning appeal search
An example from the SMDC website of how you can search for previous appeal decisions.

Local Authority Search Quick Links

So below I’ve provided quick links to the planning search pages of local planning authorities within my on-site service area. However, please note I can provide planning advice to other parts of England.

Planning Help to Secure Permission

If you’re looking to extend your home or any other form of small scale development which will require some form of permission and you need assistance, please get in touch. Click here to learn more about me and use the contact form to drop me a message so we can discuss your proposals. 🙂