Planning permission or planning consent is the permission required in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to build on land, or change the use of land or buildings. Within the UK the occupier of any land or building will need title to that land or building (i.e. "ownership"), but will also need "planning title" or planning permission. Planning title was granted for all pre-existing uses and buildings by the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. Since that date any new "development" has required planning permission. "Development" as defined by law consists of any building, engineering or mining operation, or the making of a material change of use in any land or building. Certain types of operation such as routine maintenance of an existing building are specifically excluded from the definition of development. Specified categories of minor or insignificant development are granted an automatic planning permission by law, and therefore do not require any application for planning permission. These categories are referred to as permitted development.
In the case of any proposal there is therefore a two stage test: "is the proposal development at all?" and, if the proposal is development, "is it permitted development?" Only if a development is not permitted development would an application for planning permission be required. An application for planning permission should be made to the Local Planning Authority (LPA).
Local Planning Authorities are generally the local Borough or District Council ('Local Authority' in Scotland), although an application for a mining operation, minerals extraction, or a waste management facility would be decided by the local County Council in non-metropolitan areas. Within a National Park planning applications are submitted to the National Park Authority.
All LPAs have their own website which will access relevant application forms, contact details and other relevant documents. They are generally receptive to pre-application discussion in order to clarify whether a proposal will require planning permission and, assuming that it does, the probability of such planning permission being granted.
It is therefore most important that an applicant for planning permission satisfy themselves about the relevant local development plan policies before making an application. These can also be viewed via the LPA's website, or the UK government's Planning Portal, which provides a nationwide clearing house on planning information and advice for both government and local planning policies. As a practical matter it is very advisable to discuss proposals with the LPA before incurring the fees and other costs that are involved in making a planning application, or the delays and abortive costs that would arise from the refusal of planning permission.
Most conditions imposed on a granted planning permission will relate to implementation of works within the actual site of the application (the edges of which must be defined by a red line marked on an accurately scaled map of the site, usually an Ordnance Survey extract, accompanying the application). If there is a need to control aspects of the development which are required to occur outside the defined application site (such as related highway improvements) then the implementation of those aspects can be required by a Grampian condition. This would be worded to the effect that the development being permitted must not be commenced (or must not be occupied, as appropriate), until the required off-site works had been completed.
Planning conditions are imposed to require that something is done or not done by the developer in order to make the development acceptable. Sometimes, planning permission will only be granted subject to the applicant entering into a legal agreement under Section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act requiring that cetain things be done or money be paid to the Local Planning Authority e.g to contribute towards the improvement of a highway junction serving the development before the development commences. Such contributions can only be required if they are necessary to make the development acceptable and relate directly to the development proposed.
See the entry under Development Control for an explanation of the general principles which apply to the deciding of planning applications by a Local Planning Authority.