Gaining planning permission for a self-build project 

There has been a concerted effort on the part of the Government to drive the self-build industry through various initiatives and funding programmes. There have also been changes to national planning policy to force local councils to take the provision of self-build housing seriously and to remove the onerous planning obligations and S106 contributions.
However, despite this national drive, securing planning permission for self-building housing can still be problematic. No two plots are the same and each one will have its own planning issues that will need to be overcome.
There are two basic land types (terminology may vary at a local level) and the planning strategy for each type will vary significantly. These are:
  • Land within a defined settlement boundary
  • Land outside of a defined settlement boundary

Land within a defined settlement boundary

Land within a defined settlement boundary will generally be within a city, town or village and will consequently have urban and suburban characteristics.
In such locations, the principle of development would normally be positive but key issues that may need to be overcome could include:
  • suitability of access;
  • impact on trees;
  • impact on a neighbour’s amenity;
  • design;
  • impact on heritage assets;
  • whether the site is protected for any other land uses.
Subject to the characteristics of the site and the proposal, a planning application would normally be submitted in full.

Land outside of a defined settlement boundary

It is more difficult to secure planning permission for a self-build project outside of a defined settlement boundary. Local councils normally resist such developments, but if a strong planning case is put forward then a council’s resistance can be overcome.
It would normally be necessary to:
  • demonstrate that a site is not isolated from other urban areas;
  • establish whether the council is meeting its housing targets and their housing policies are up to date;
  • demonstrate that there are no technical constraints.
In such cases it may be prudent to submit an outline planning application in the first instance to establish the principle of development.
If the proposed self-build is of exceptional quality or innovative then a more isolated location could be appropriate and still be in accordance with national and local planning policies. Such schemes would normally be submitted with full details.
If you are about to embark on a self-build project and wish to seek advice and guidance on planning matters relating to this, please contact us at