How I got planning permission and beat the nimbys to get a new house upgrade

The important thing to remember, however, Veevers continues, is that about 90 percent of planning requests are accepted. While most of us consider planning politics to be a dry, drawn-out and repressive subject, a good architect or planning consultant enjoys pushing it to the limit and giving Nimbys no reason to object.

“There’s plenty of leeway, even if you live in a designated area – Britain’s planning rules support creativity and favor cutting-edge design over pastiche,” agrees Chris Menear, planning consultant at Cornwall Planning Group, who has helped numerous clients in the West. Country to expand or remodel their homes. “I try to encourage people to see it as an adventure; you are building your dream. My clients give me a budget and their aspirations, and I work what can be achieved. They are often surprised at how creative they can be.”

This has certainly been my experience. When my architect revealed his drawings for the kitchen extension to our home in south-west London, my husband and I exchanged nervous glances. Three huge bronze doors between vertical pillars and a coffered ceiling under a sedum roof: this was nothing like the classic conservatory we had imagined; we were sure the planners would throw it away.

However, our architect did not seem nervous at all. I suspect he considered the design quite tame compared to what he could have come up with: it did not compromise light or privacy for our neighbours, and was in line with the Plan of London and the Government’s National Code of Design Models, which local planning authorities take into account when determining planning applications. When, two months later, we were given the green light, without any objection from the locals, there were more nervous glances: should we have been more daring and gone for the double-height glass extension that the architect originally suggested?

Since we live in a conservation area, we would have had to file a formal application no matter what we built on the outside of our home, but many homeowners can do significant construction work without permission under Permitted Development Rights (see sidebar, Right ). Meanwhile, redundant farm buildings can be converted into houses, and under the new PDR introduced last year, redundant shops, gyms and restaurants can be converted into housing.

Nine times out of 10, however, it is better to dare to submit a full planning application than to go down the permitted development right route, argues Polly Ashman, project manager and interior designer at, a home builder. based in West London, as there are so many caveats with PDR. With a complete application, you can request additional windows and higher ceiling heights; it’s always worth pushing the boundaries of planning politics rather than settling for second-rate, she says. Richard Rogerson of RFR Property, a London property consultancy, encourages his clients to be optimistic about their aspirations, even when the property in question is situated in an Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty or a Designated Flood Hazard Area; the stipulations are stricter, and for a listed building you’ll also need to seek the listed building’s consent, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something fabulous, he says. “We have managed to install air conditioning in every room in a Grade II listed building and merge houses into conservation areas in Kensington and Chelsea in London,” he says.

By using a local architect to submit our application, I never had to find out about planning politics; a great relief, as according to Ashman, who has developed several of his own houses, it is very complicated and varies from district to district. A planning consultant or architect will invariably save you time and money, she says; They make sure designs comply with local policy, prepare the application using the correct terminology, and can also help you challenge the status quo and get permission for something new and unique.

“City council policies change and are updated all the time,” agrees Menear. “And permits can also be granted in extenuating circumstances, with the support of your local council. A Section 106 Agreement, for example, allows you to build affordable housing for a family member to climb the housing ladder.”

A planning officer will ensure that a project ticks all the boxes with regards to sustainability, heritage and accessibility, making it almost impossible for the council to turn it down, Ashman adds, and also, crucially, will warn you from the start if a project is not a project. -starter, saving you the cost and heartache of a big rejection.

Before your neighbors have a chance to make a fuss about your app, Veevers recommends presenting it in a positive light, warning them about the impact it will have on them during construction and encouraging them to keep the lines of communication open, preferably on the phone or in person.

“People get much more aggressive through text messages,” he says. If a neighbor completely loses the rag, as his former neighbors did, depositing such toxic manure on his yard that it poisoned his builders, don’t retaliate; the most important relationship is the one he has with his case officer in the local planning department. “The council doesn’t get involved in petty disputes and neither should you,” he says.

“Focus on befriending your other neighbors. It is often the same person complaining about each local project.” And don’t expect the animosity to go away once you’ve got permission, adds Rollo Embee, a small farmer in Dorset whose neighbors have sent letters to people living in surrounding villages urging them to object to his application to convert a small barn. in an Airbnb. His campaign continues, although work on the barn is finished. “I’ve been called an outsider and criticized for the wildflower meadows I’ve created,” he says. “Sorry for Jeremy Clarkson: It’s not easy trying to run a business in rural Britain.”

As drilling continues at our construction site, which is still halfway to completion, I’m sure my next door neighbors are cursing that we’re moving here. Scaffolding and shipping containers aren’t forever though, Ashton reminds me, and besides, it’s only a matter of time before they build their dream kitchen against our party wall. “I feel sorry for the people who are putting up with a neighbor’s construction project in a national park,” she says. “But in a big city like London, isn’t that the game?”

How to transform and update your home in 2022

The transformation of the farmhouse

Matt Cobon, an entrepreneur, and his wife Alice, who works in finance, have transformed a dilapidated Dorset farmhouse into a family home and holiday rental business.

Leave a Comment