How Long Does Planning Permission Take?

What we do

Walters Architects undertake building designs and submit planning applications as part of our everyday practice. As well as being Architects, this fundamentally makes us Planning Consultants, of sorts.

We submit planning applications, coordinate with the planners and act as the client’s agent. This allows us to control the applications and ensure there’s no miscommunication between the clients and the planners. It just helps streamline the process.

How long does planning permission take?

Clients always ask ‘how long does planning take?’. Well, for a simple application, it should take approximately 8 weeks. A more complicated and larger application should take 13 weeks. This is the official line at least.

The fact is, Planning decisions vary from authority to authority. Factors include; the specific site, the size of the development and the nature of the application. Obviously, the current extension to Leicester Cathedral has taken longer than the simple extension I’m proposing at home.

Over recent years the time associated with Planning applications has changed dramatically. It’s increasingly more difficult to get applications processed. Although the Planning Portal has made the system much better, the whole experience is still far from perfect.

A good starting point is the council’s validation date. But, unfortunately, councils are under-resourced and they are receiving lots of larger schemes. This is in part due to the government’s initiatives to provide more houses.


Another concern is getting hold of the planners in charge of the application. Long gone are the days when you could simply call the allocated Planning officer. Nowadays you will be lucky to even get through to the planning department. Emails are sometimes returned but, seriously, it’s a lottery.

We now advise clients to allow 3 – 6 months for a small application. They possibly need to consider 6 months to a year for larger applications. This may sound a lot but it’s a lot more realistic than the suggested 8 & 13 weeks. In our experience, people prefer the facts, no matter how hard they are to hear.

There are just not enough recourses to deal with the amount and size of Panning applications being submitted. Most Local Authorities restructured a decade ago to compensate for the recession and they have simply not replaced the staff. Also, a lot of planners have moved over to the private sector, leaving councils massively under-resourced.

What can I do?

It really is best to plan ahead. Allow plenty of time for design and applications. Find out more about the way your local authority is performing by going online. Just check the dates of some planning applications near to where you are based. You will soon see if an authority is underperforming.

Should you require any further information on ‘how long does planning permission take?’, please feel free to call our office to discuss your requirements. We look forward to discussing your specific requirements.