40 retrospective planning applications made every day in UK

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

Homeowners are improving instead of moving, but many are not seeking the correct planning permission in advance

Almost 40,000 (39,200) retrospective planning applications have been filed for developments either started or completed in the last three years, according to research by Churchill Home Insurance.

If a homeowner makes a change to their property that requires planning permission and they have not had approval in advance, the council can request they submit a retrospective planning application.

What work is being done?

With the costs of moving home so high, it’s no surprise home extensions are the most popular reasons for seeking retrospective planning permission, said Churchill.

The most commonly reported reasons for applying for retrospective planning permission were single-floor extensions (2,218 applications), double-floor extensions (459) loft conversions (424), garage conversions (309) and open-plan spaces (106).

Applications refused

Relying on getting planning permission retrospectively is a risky business, as one in eight are rejected by UK local authorities.

The most common reasons for authorities rejecting applications include the development being out of character (28%), loss of privacy (10%), highway safety (7%), overdevelopment (5%) and impact on nature (3%).

Pritpal Powar, head of Churchill home insurance, said: “Homeowners are increasingly choosing to expand their current homes to accommodate growing family sizes, rather than move to a new house.

“However, before beginning any development, we encourage people to check whether they need planning permission and if they do, to wait until this has been granted before starting work.

“It is also important for householders to advise their insurance provider on any works they are planning, to ensure they have the correct cover in place for their property.

“Whilst any major household development is likely to come with a certain amount of upheaval, we hope that by taking these steps homeowners should ensure that they aren’t subjected to any unnecessary stress during the process.”

Regional split

Scotland had the highest number of retrospective planning applications, accounting for 20% (7,949) of all applications over the last three years.

This was followed by London (5,612) and the South East (5,372), both receiving 14% of the UK’s retrospective planning applications.

Wales had the highest refusal rate, with more than a quarter (28%) of retrospective planning applications refused. Around a fifth of applications were denied in both London (21%) and Scotland (18%). At a local council level, the New Forest in Hampshire had the highest rate of refusals of anywhere in the UK, rejecting the overwhelming majority (92%) of retrospective planning applications.