Get in touch with us

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit.


4953 Vine Street
San Diego, CA 92465

Office hours

Workdays at
9:00am – 6:00pm
Call us
(815) 555-5555

Let’s get connected

Get in Touch

How long does planning permission last? A Practical Guide


If you’re a landowner looking to make use of your prized asset, planning permission is a pressing matter.

Obtaining planning permission is essential to the scope and value of your land as it will dictate whether a building or construction project can go ahead. If your land has planning permission potential, you’re more likely to attract the right investors or developers, making your prized asset all the more lucrative.

But, how long does planning permission last and what do you need to know to avoid any logistical snags or roadblocks?

Read on and find out all you need to know about planning permission.

How long does planning last, exactly?

In short, standard planning permission lasts for three years—this includes both full applications and change of use applications.

What this means is that with a successful full planning permission application, you have three full years to commence construction work on-site.

But, while this is the case in most situations, there are variables. If you have outline planning permission, the rules are slightly different, which brings us onto our next point…

The rules of outline planning permission?

With full planning permission applications, every aspect or element relating to the proposed project is covered. Once everything complies with the local authority’s official approval letter and you have the full building regulations go ahead, you can commence.

But, outline planning applications are slightly different. Typically used for larger scale projects, with outline planning permission the local authority essentially green lights the concept of a project. Then, additional applications covering the finer details—known as reserved matters in planning permission—must be submitted and approved.

As such, with outline permissions, you’re given three years from grant to submit reserved matters, plus an additional two years to commence work on-site. Due to this extra layer of flexibility, many strategic landowners obtain outline planning permissions to sell with their land to attract prospective buyers.

This is a popular strategic option as it benefits the prospective house builder who can invest in the land and then reserve matters within two years to commence on-site.

How to extend planning permission

Before the Town & Country Planning Act of 1968 was introduced, you could extend planning permission with ease—but not now.

As a result of the three-year restriction, the commence versus resubmission debate often arises when planning permission expiry looms. Do you start work or do you resubmit your application? That is the question.

1) Resubmission

Here we explore how to reapply for expired planning permission.

If you do decide to resubmit your planning permission application, the process will not be as exhaustive as the original process—but, it’s worth noting that you will need to make sure every piece of your supporting information is up to date for approval.

Ecology reports, for example, have a shelf life of two years. That said, if you have full planning permission that is due to expire, it’s likely that you’ll need to obtain a new report for your resubmission to be successful.

If your red tape isn’t up to date and in order, you will encounter roadblocks, so checking everything with a fine tooth comb before resubmission is vital.

2) Commencement

Considering how to extend planning permission? If your application is reaching expiry, commencing minor aspects of work on-site is another way to ensure planning permission doesn’t lapse.

You could make a start on certain aspects of your project’s groundwork. But, while this might appear to be a simple solution, your agreement is likely to be subject to a series of pre-commencement conditions.

For example, a pre-commencement condition related to groundwork might be: no groundwork shall take place until full details of the surface water drainage scheme, based on the approved flood risk assessment, have been submitted and approved by the local planning authority.

So, If you’ve started on the work, you can’t commence until you’ve submitted the full details of the scheme onto the proper planning authority. Also, commencement may raise cil payments based on pre-agreed planning triggers.

Unless you’ve entered into a Section 106 agreement, it’s likely that certain obligations will be triggered by commencement. That said, you may have to start paying pre-agreed fees to the local planning authorities and other statutory consultees. To navigate these complexities, we recommend consulting the services of a land and planning permission expert to avoid unnecessary costs.

Planning permission best practices

For the best possible chances of getting your planning permission application approved, here are some best practices you should know:

  • Research every detail of your chosen planning permission path to ensure you don’t miss any of the finer details and delay your progress.
  • As mentioned, check that all of your reserved matters or supporting documents are valid and up to date.
  • Build a relationship with the relevant local planning authorities and planning officer to keep communication open and make the application process as smooth as possible.
  • Work with a skilled land or planning permission professional to make sure your application is strong and all relevant information is covered.

The bottom line…

Circling back to the original question, how long is planning permission valid? To summarise:

  • Full planning permission lasts for three years.
  • Outline planning permission lasts for five years (three years, plus two further years to complete your reserved matters).

Understanding planning permission is essential to every landowner. If you’re unclear about any aspect of planning permission or you feel that three years just isn’t enough, investing in the services of a trusted land expert will ensure you’re able to navigate every stage of your journey with success.

We hope our planning permission guide has helped and if you have any advice of your own to share, please feel free to do so by leaving a comment.

Want to know what we can do for you?

Want to know what we can do for you?