The process of applying for planning permission in the UK is a famously frustrating exercise in fighting bureaucracy. Securing your permission in a timely fashion can be difficult, especially for a homeowner with modest resources. Making sure that your application includes full and accurate maps is an excellent way to remove one possible impasse standing between you and your permission.
Maps Included In Your Planning Application
Every application for planning permission has to include a site location plan. This is a general overview scaled to either 1:1,250 or 1:2,500 showing the property where you plan to do the work. The larger scale is used for either large developments or for isolated properties where the smaller scale does not show a useful context. The outline of the property you need permission for must be outlined in red, and any other properties in the area you own need to be outlined in blue.
If you're applying for full planning permission, you'll very likely also need to submit a block plan. This is a more detailed map at a scale of 1:500 or even larger which shows complete details of your proposed work. The block plan may not be required if you're applying for outline or principle permission for a new build.
Why Accuracy Matters
Your maps need to be completely up to date so that the officials in the planning office get an accurate understanding of the relationship of your proposed development to the adjacent properties. Accuracy is also important if your application is shared with other parties (e.g. neighbours, other agencies, etc) to solicit their input. Maps that are inaccurate or out-of-date make it far more likely that your application will be delayed or even rejected outright.
Inaccurate or incomplete planning application maps are also likely to draw negative attention and objections from concerned parties that are contacted by the planning authority -- if the authority is even willing to move forward with your application. Your application will always stand a better chance of sailing smoothly through the process when it's accompanied by accurate maps.
While the vast majority of planning maps are based directly on Ordnance Survey maps, planning authorities need to verify that the Crown's copyright has been respected. This makes it risky to photocopy Ordnance Survey maps yourself or get your planning maps prepared by a fly-by-night website. Legitimate map preparation companies will produce fully-authorized maps that will meet planner's expectations.
Certain basic formatting rules have to be obeyed on all planning maps. They must be on A4 sheets with north oriented towards the top of the map, and each map must include a scale. Planning officers need all of their maps to be consistent so that it easy to compare details between them and move smoothly from one application to another.
Hopefully this overview has made it clear that while preparing accurate maps for you planning application is extremely important, it is not necessarily difficult. Pay attention to the requirements of your local planning authority and you should have no trouble delivering a satisfactory set of maps.
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