So a quick recap, we sold our house and bought “the house that twitter built” in 2011. We spent six months settling, the next six finding the right architectural partner and the six months after that working with Innex Design the best way to develop the house and space we have. Happy doesn’t come close to how I feel about what our home will be like one day but we still have a long way to go and the next thing was to get the necessary planning permission so our application was submitted at the end of January and we waited … and we waited … and we waited some more … and then waited some more still… S L O W is an understatement, I’m sure they were being thorough *raises eyebrows*

I’m very methodical and with this project I am crossing the bridges in my head only when I reach them (otherwise I’d be at wallpaper, lamps & cushions) there’s no point working out the specifications and costs of the build until the plans are approved and there’s no point working out the finance until we know the specifications and costs. So that’s where we have been. Waiting for planning permission, so whilst we waited I took the opportunity to ask my architect, Chris Catelani of Innex Design my questions about planning and what was happening during this stage of our project and thought I’d share his answers for anyone in or embarking on a similar project.

Question 1: So we created our design and submitted the plans to the Local Authority, what happens during the planning assessment / approval process? What are these planners looking for / doing?

Chris Catelani, Innex Design: We submit the application online via the planning portal, which has some good interactive tools for people who don’t know if they need planning permission The council allocate themselves a 6-8 week time period to access the planning application, during this time the 1st thing they will do is send out letters to neighbours offering them the chance to comment on the proposals. They will then after 21 day consultation period consider neighbours comments and assess the application is in accordance with planning policy, the officer will visit the site to inspect the surroundings first hand and to determine if the proposals are detrimental to any neighbouring properties or objectors.

Question 2: We submitted our plans at the end of January how long should it take & when does the clock start ticking?

Chris Catelani, Innex Design: I don’t think this is an easy question to answer, the plans were submitted but the council are slow and took weeks to validate the application, the council have validation officers who check that the application form is complete, the fee is correct and the information submitted is correct i.e. site location plan of the property at the correct scales. Once validated the 6-8 week clock is ticking for a decision although some applications can take longer than the 8 weeks. Each council is different even though they follow the same policy.

Question 3: Applying for planning felt like a scary prospect but Innex Design have meant we haven’t had any contact – is that normal or are you just brilliant? Should a home owner or an architect handle the local authority?

Chris Catelani, Innex Design: To us its normal, if we are commissioned to provide architectural services for a domestic house extension we treat it the same as a million pound plus project. Our clients appoint us as professionals and we aim to deliver a professional service from start to finish, we hear of design practices who offer architectural services but wont deal with the council as it can be time consuming! we think its wrong, you wouldn’t get on a plane and fly it yourself, so why should the legalities of improving, what is to most people the most valuable asset they own be left to chance.

A decision was made on our planning application last week, the verdict is coming up in my next post here!