Case Study: Planning Pitfalls


Designing and building your new dream home is a big step and for many one of the biggest projects they will ever undertake. It promises to be exhilarating, rewarding and if managed carefully, it can can be fairly stress free. Knowing where to begin helps. We have prepared a simple checklist to get you started and on the following pages have provided some useful tips on “Navigating the Planning Process”


  • Define your main objectives and aspirations
  • Establish a detailed brief for each room required
  • Create a scrapbook / Pinterest of style ideas
  • Decide your external / landscape requirements
  • Consider current and required access to the site
  • Define key views from the site
  • Determine the preferred location of the new dwelling
  • Establish sunny and shady spots of the site
  • Consider activities of adjoining land
  • Establish a realistic budget
  • Establish a timeframe
  • Determine whether you need professional support or inputs from others to check the viability of your proposals



Do’s + Don’ts


Do be clear about what you like and don’t like. Creating scrapbooks or Pinterest boards for all the rooms of your new home will help organize your ideas and is a great tool for communicating your aspirations to your design team and builders.


Do develop a ‘working’ brief. Determine the priorities on your wish list, which ones you can’t live without and which ones you can be more flexible about. Use this wish list to examine how best to organise your site and locate your key rooms. This will enable you to examine the best use of your site from a number of different vantage points.


Don’t focus on the number of rooms that you require but do think about the qualitative nature of these spaces. For example, where would you like to relax at the end of the day, what would be near you and what view would you like to see. A good designer will assemble these moments into a wonderful and coherent design.


Do enjoy the process. Living in a site specific, bespoke home can be physically and emotionally rewarding.



Navigating the Planning Process


Obtaining planning consent can be a major hurdle to being able to build your dream home in the UK. If you are considering either major refurbishment works or a new build on a site you own, or are considering purchasing a site, it is important that you understand what may be permissible to inform your decision making. Below is a simple checklist that sets out some of the key watch points that will inform and guide your proposals:


  • Review any current permission for your site
  • Review the site’s planning history
  • Research relevant local planning policy
  • Establish precedent for your proposals
  • Check if the site is in the floodplain
  • Check if the site is in a conservation area or other protected area such as the greenbelt Is the building
  • Listed or adjacent to buildings that are?
  • Are there any protected trees (TPOs)
  • Consider any overlooking to / from adjacent properties
  • Establish site surveys that may be required





Watch out for covenants and rights over the land, this can effect what you can build. It is very challenging to obtain planning consent in the green belt, countryside or flood plain.



Don’t be afraid of Planning. For a fee, planning departments will engage in dialogue about your proposed project, before making a formal submission. Called ‘Pre-application advice’ - this is an invaluable opportunity to bring planners on board with your proposal and to test the likelihood of achieving planning permission.


When meeting planning officers it is essential to have a thorough understanding of the background of the site, relevant planning policies and likely concerns of planners. At Baca Architects we always present planners with 3 different ideas to test the boundaries of the scheme. We approach meetings with a clear strategy but we are also flexible enough to ensure that the dialogue is constructive and progress is made. Our 100% planning success over 11 years of practice is testament to our approach.





Planners aren’t worried about cost so be mindful not to let them design your building for you. Encourage your architect to come up with a strong idea that also meets your budget. If possible keep your neighbours informed and they may support the application. Planning can take a long time, stick to your initial goals and remember that good design goes a long way to unlocking the process.



Below are a few common topics that we are frequently asked about:


Permitted development


Permitted Development is a helpful policy because some work to extend your property is allowable without the need to gain consent from the local authority. To understand the possibilities of Permitted Development consult the Planning Portal website:



Listed Building Consent


If your property is Listed, within a conservation area or in close proximity to a Listed Building the work permitted to your building or site may be severely restricted. If you believe you are affected by either of these policies seek professional advise from an Architect before proceeding.





Construction within the flood plain is severely restricted. The UK Environment Agency now maps surface water flooding as well as river flooding. Before embarking on a new site check your flood risk by entering your postcode on the UK Environment Agency’s website. environment-agency




Planning Your New Home


* The Planning Pitfalls Checklist is provided in good faith and is an introduction to flood risk only. The authors take no responsibility for the subsequent use of this information, nor for any errors or omissions it may contain. Professional advice should always be sought when considering any development, particularly where flood risk may be present.


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