Helping homeowners achieve their dream living space
We at NAPC pride ourselves in providing a highly responsive, personal planning consultancy service to each customer we work with.
We understand that the planning process can be daunting for homeowners. So we lead you through every stage, explaining everything in clear, jargon-free terms and keeping you fully informed and supported throughout.
Our many customers truly appreciate the way we lift the stress from them during this aspect of their build.
We begin all our projects with an initial development appraisal and feasibility study. Through this first stage review, our planners will provide you with considered and researched guidance on the feasibility of your development aspirations. To do this we look at a variety of factors, including the site planning history, its context and all relevant local and national policies, and weigh these up against your ideal project outcome.
This initial review really helps to flag the potential opportunities and constraints of your site, and is essential for enabling us to develop a planning strategy for moving things forward. It’s also crucial for ensuring that, if you pursue your application, your approach is prepared in a way that gives it the best chance of success.
We’ve adopted a flexible three-tier offering to suit all budgets.
Our Bronze level is a relatively quick desktop study, looking at LPA policy and specific site planning constraints.
Our Silver level covers all of the Bronze level services plus a thorough review of planning history, an in-depth evaluation of site specific constraints such as trees, topography, and an idea of the appropriate size and location of your annexe.
And our Gold level covers all of the Silver level services along with a 30-minute zoom consultation – perfect for answering all your questions – plus a selection of unique design ideas and our most thorough site appraisal.
Preparing considered and effective planning applications is at the heart of what we do.
There are various application strategies we can adopt, but choosing the right application strategy mostly comes down to exactly what kind of structure you want to build in your garden – and what you want to use the building for.
So every project we undertake commences with an initial development appraisal. Within a few hours of research, we are in a position to advise you on what type of application may be most beneficial to your project – taking into consideration site context and planning history, local and national policies, relevant legislation, case law and precedents.
A planning statement is your opportunity to prove the site meets all relevant planning policies. We develop and present a keenly focused, clearly argued document packed with all our arguments as to why the application is policy compliant. Designed to show the proposal in the best possible light, our planning statement will give your project the best chance of being approved.
We can also act on your behalf to complete all necessary documentation and apply for any available community infrastructure levy exemptions. Our meticulous and considered preparation of all such documents is vital, since even the smallest error can result in a refusal.
And you can rely on us to offer expert advice on all aspects such as community infrastructure levy (CIL) and advice on third party requirements such as Ecology, Drainage, Arboriculture, and recommend and partner third party consultants
Of course, we must also be adept at engaging and negotiating effectively with the Local Planning Authority. With direct experience of submitting over 500 planning proposals to more than 250 LPA’s, that’s something you can take as read.
Lawful development certificate
To ensure your garden room or mobile home is lawful you can apply for a lawful development certificate from the Local Planning Authority. There are two types of these: certificates for proposed developments and certificates for existing developments.
Let’s firstly look at certificates for a proposed use or development. These ensure that a proposed residential extension (for instance, an incidental garden room) falls under permitted development.
If you rely on the Caravan Act to site a mobile home within your garden, a Certificate of Lawfulness can be invaluable. Despite the caravan laws being very clear, some Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) may raise objections to your building, especially if complaints have been received. A good way to avoid issues further down the road is to ask a planning consultant to check that your structure does indeed comply with the Act. If it does, it won’t require planning permission, so your consultant can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness on your behalf to ensure the LPA agree.
A Certificate of Lawfulness can also be used to protect yourself should any complaints be raised. Although they aren’t a legal requirement, some situations demand a certificate for any garden structures. For example, should you want to sell your home, your solicitor will almost certainly want to see a Certificate of Lawfulness for your garden room or mobile home to guarantee it is lawful.
The second type of certificate is for existing use or development. This is commonly used to demonstrate that a use or development has been in existence for a certain length of time – and therefore becomes lawful by default and immune from enforcement action. This time span is generally 4 years for applications relating to residential matters, or 10 years for commercial or agricultural applications and breaches of conditions. We find this is an excellent strategy for making the case that an existing garden room meets the permitted development criteria.
If you have been refused planning permission, all is not lost since you do have the right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.
We would never recommend appealing without first exhausting all other options. We’re able to scrutinise your application from a professional point of view, identifying weaknesses with the refusal that can be exploited or strengths in your case which you may not have highlighted in your original application.
But if an appeal is the only option, we can help you choose the best planning appeal route. Thanks to our access to case law and appeal precedents, along with our own far-reaching experience, we can construct a robust and persuasive appeal.
We also have licensed access to chambers should you wish to secure a counsel opinion on appeal strategy or a point of law.
If you receive an enforcement notice on your garden structure, annexe or another type of garden room, it’s vital you act without delay.
There are a range of enforcement powers open to Local Authorities. These include Enforcement Notices, Breach of Condition Notices, and Stop Notices. We can advise you on the correct planning strategy in these extreme circumstances, and our advice will depend on the actions already taken by the Council.
Remember that, as with planning appeals, you have the right to appeal against an enforcement notice.
Enforcement action is discretionary to your Local Authority and, in many cases, negotiation is preferable to the appeal route. Depending on your circumstances we may be able to help you in various ways before having to appeal against enforcement.
If not, we can handle the enforcement appeal on your behalf, though time is of essence. Usually you must ensure your appeal is with the Planning Inspectorate within 28 days of the serving of the notice, otherwise you will lose your right to appeal. If you fail to hit this deadline, you will have to comply with the requirements of the notice – or risk prosecution for non-compliance.
Annexe buyers checklist
There’s lots to consider when buying an annexe, and for some, the whole process can seem a little daunting. But consumers can feel reassured when they see the NAPC logo associated with an annexe building company.
Here is a checklist to help compare builders, their processes and their prices.
Spot a rogue trader
Sadly there are a number of disreputable builders in the marketplace who could cost you, dear.
Happily, there are a number of giveaways that let you spot the cowboys and give them a wide berth. So look out for these eight tell-tale signs – and make sure you avoid the rogue builders.