Our Services

Pre-Application Advice

Before submitting a planning application you may wish to seek pre-application advice from your Local Planning Authority (LPA). The LPA’s now generally charge a fee for this service but this varies dependant on the nature of the advice needed.

Benson Planning Studio can manage this process on your behalf and ensure that your proposed development is presented to the LPA in the best possible way to ensure the best outcome for you. Where appropriate, we will undertake planning policy research on your proposals prior to making any formal pre-application submission to assist us in justifying your proposal.

We will also provide guidance on any other relevant material considerations which we feel may contribute towards a stronger planning application.

Pre application discussions can provide a good insight into the LPA’s approach towards a scheme and their input is important and can save time especially if a scheme is refused. All aspects of a scheme, no matter how large or small, are discussed in detail to ensure that the planning application details can be correctly identified before the submission of a formal application.

Planning Applications

The planning system has become increasingly more complex and is often a minefield for those who experience it for the first time. Even those who are familiar with planning often find that they need assistance and advice in certain areas due to the sheer size of the Town and Country Planning Act.

We are able to provide qualified, professional advice to any size of project and bring added value to your project. We have experience of dealing with all types planning applications and can help guide your project through the planning process to achieve the best outcome for you. Our experience ranges from dealing with major Developers and national house builders to members of the public who are having difficulties with planning matters.

We are also experienced at negotiating planning contributions whether this is by means of a Unilateral Undertaking or S.106 legal agreement.

We are able to advise on the following types of application:

Most applications are full planning applications requiring you to submit all details of the proposal. It is appropriate if you have detailed information about your proposal or you wish to change the use of land or buildings.

Outline planning applications establish whether a development is acceptable in principle. It has the advantage that detailed drawings are not required although some Local Authorities to want more information than others such as a layout.

Once outline permission has been granted, details of the proposal must be approved. This is known as ‘Reserved Matters’ and must be done before work can start.

Certificate of Lawful Use (Existing and Proposed)
A certificate of lawfulness for proposed or existing use is a statutory document confirming that the use, operation or activity named on it is lawful for planning control purposes on the date specified in the document. It enables the council, where sufficient evidence exists and all the conditions are satisfied, to grant a certificate in relation to:

  • An existing use of land, some operational development or an activity in breach of a planning condition which has become lawful or
  • A proposed use of land or buildings or some operational development to be carried out which would need to be lawful
  • Variation of Condition (Section 73)

Section 73 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) allows an applicant to make an application to vary or remove a planning condition on an existing planning permission. If approved, this will result in the issue of a new permission and may result in different conditions being imposed.

Advertisement Consent

If you wish to display an advert you may well need advertisement consent for the following:

  • Posters and notices
  • Placards and boards
  • Fascia signs and projecting signs
  • Pole signs and canopy signs
  • Models and devices
  • Advance signs and directional signs
  • Estate agents’ boards
  • Captive balloon advertising (not balloons in flight)
  • Flag advertisements
  • Price markers and price displays
  • Traffic signs
  • Town and village name signs

You are unlikely to need consent for signs less than 0.3 metres squared on your house with a name or number on it. Temporary notices up to 0.6 metres squared relating to local events (fetes and concerts for example) can be displayed for short periods.

Works to Trees
You will need to submit a tree works application if you wish to carry out works on trees:

Protected by Tree Preservation Orders
Located in Conservation Areas
Protected by Planning Conditions

Planning Appeals

Benson Planning Studio has considerable experience of dealing with all types of planning appeals and is able to provide you with professional advice to help inform the choices available to you. We can provide a comprehensive service to prepare and submit appeals on your behalf. We will be able to advise the best course of action which will be dependant on the nature of the case.

Appeals Process:

Planning appeals are made against the decision of the Local Planning Authority (LPA) to refuse planning permission and also against Enforcement Action.

On rare occasions appeals are madeagainst non-determination, where the LPA has failed to determine the application within the statutory time period (i.e. 8 weeks for minor and 13 weeks for major proposals). Only the person who made the planning application has the right to appeal.

The appeal is made to the Planning Inspectorate, a Government body based in Bristol and can be dealt with in the following ways depending on the scale and type of development proposed:

• Householder Appeals Service
• Written Representation
• Informal Hearing
• Public Inquiry


For all appeals, the appeal submission must be made within six months of the LPA’s decision notice or within six months of the end of the decision period if the LPA have not made a decision. Where there is an enforcement notice on the site for the same or similar development, the appeal period may be reduced to 28 days.

Householder Appeals Service:

In April 2009 a new and more efficient appeal procedure for householder appeals was created. The Householder Appeals Service (HAS) is suitable for appeals against refusals on householder applications. All such appeals must proceed by way of written representation. You must however appeal within 12 weeks of the decision. A key difference of the HAS is that third parties and any consultees will not have the opportunity to comment at the appeal stage. All comments made at the application stage will be carried forward and considered by the Inspector.

Written Representation:

This is the most popular method of appealing. Here, the Inspector considers written evidence from the appellant, the LPA and anyone else that has an interest in the appeal. The Inspector will also likely make a site visit. If the site can be viewed from a public road this will often be unaccompanied. Sometimes, both the appellant and the LPA’s representative will need to be present during the site inspection. This is known as an accompanied site inspection and generally occurs when access to a property is needed.

How long does it take?

There is no statutory time frame for determining planning appeals and this can vary considerably depending on the type of appeal that has been chosen and the complexity of the proposal. Typically, 80% of HAS appeals should be decided within 8 weeks. Written representations are the next quickest followed by Informal Hearings and Public Inquiries. However, given the high volume of appeals, the Planning Inspectorate can take many months to determine appeals and specialised appeals involving Listed Buildings, Conservation and Enforcement can take many months.

Award of Costs

All parties to an appeal normally meet their own expenses. However, an application for costs can be made where one party or side claims it has been caused unnecessary expense in dealing with the proceedings, because of the other side’s unreasonable behaviour.

Other information:

In some instances, appeals are not dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate and they can be dealt with by the Magistrate Court. This is most common with Enforcement related matters

Planning Appraisals

Very early appraisals of potential sites for a development are important as they will provide the prospective applicant the best idea of what form of development is suitable on the land.

The appraisal will take into consideration issues such as the allocation of land on the Local Plan, site history, demographics, highways, ecology, contamination, surrounding land uses and the economy.

Development Framework Representations

Many landowners and developers do not take into consideration the plan making process and this process offers the potential to significantly increase the value of land if an alternative land use allocation can be achieved. Due to the nature of the planning system, Local Planning Authorities (LPA’s) have to review their land periodically to ensure that they have sufficient allocations for new housing and employment etc. In some cases LPA’s have yet to identify sufficient land for development providing opportunities to land owners.

Benson Planning Studio specialises in providing planning advice to landowners and helping to identify land with good development potential. In particular we are able to assist with promoting land through the Local Plan process in order to maximise estate value.

Many Local Authorities are not meeting current targets for residential developments with many falling well below their allocations. With this in mind, subject to planning permission, Councils may be more minded to allow such schemes.

We can assist with arranging and coordinating landowner groups, facilitating the negotiation of option/promotion agreements and providing access to developers and investors.

Design & Access Statements

Design & Access Statements are typically required for most applications excluding householder applications (unless in a Conservation Area) and changes of use where there are no material external alterations.

Design & Access Statements should include the following headings:

Use – What buildings and spaces will be used for.

Amount – The number of proposed units for residential use and the amount of floorspace and distribution of other uses. Where the development involves an extension to an existing building, the additional floorspace, volume and overall dimensions should be set out.

Layout – The way the buildings, routes and open spaces are provided, placed and orientated to each other. The statement should show that safety and security issues have been fully taken into account. The relationship of the buildings to adjacent streets and open spaces is particularly important.

Scale – The height, width and length of a building in relation to its surroundings. This needs to be justified in terms of local character, Council policy and guidance and urban design principles.
Landscaping – How open spaces will be treated to enhance and protect the character of a place. The statement should consider how the landscaping can enhance the buildings and surrounding area whilst at the same time be sustainable and improve biodiversity.

Appearance – What the building and spaces will look like, for example, building materials and architectural details.

Access – The statement needs to include two potential aspects of access. That is not to say they are separate, and the statement should show that all access issues have been considered together.

Vehicular and transport links
Why the access points and routes have been chosen, and how the site responds to road layout and public transport provision.

Inclusive access
How everyone can get to and move through the place on equal terms regardless of age, disability, ethnicity or social grouping.

Benson Planning Studio has considerable experience in preparing D&A Statements and can ensure that they are appropriate in terms of the level of detail to reflect the scale and significance of the proposed development. We follow the CABE good practice guidance to ensure our D&A Statements are clear and easy to understand.

Planning Enforcement

If you have been served with an Enforcement Notice (EN) by your Local Planning Authority (LPA) you will have the option to appeal against it. However, you will need to carefully consider if you have sufficient grounds for appeal and what the most appropriate course of action should be. Benson Planning Studio is able to provide professional advice to help you decide on the most appropriate course of action to achieve the best outcome possible.

Reasons for serving an Enforcement Notice

Typically, LPA’s will serve EN’s if you have gone ahead without securing planning permission and the council considers that the development involves a breach of planning control. This will depend on the scale, design and location of the development and its impact on neighbours and the character of the area.

In this instance, The LPA will often request that you apply for retrospective planning permission to make the proposal lawful in planning terms.

Should you appeal?

We would advise that you speak to us before deciding how to proceed. We can offer you a free initial consultation and the benefit of qualified professional planning advice.In most cases, we would always try and negotiate with the LPA to achieve an acceptable solution for both parties. However, if this is not possible and we feel that you have sufficient grounds against which to appeal, we are able to prepare and submit a planning enforcement appeal to the Planning Inspectorate on your behalf.

All Enforcement Appeals must be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate before the date the enforcement notice takes effect. This date will be stated on the Enforcement Notice.

Types of Enforcement Appeal:

As with the normal appeal procedure, an Enforcement Appeal can be made in the following ways:

Written Representation;
Informal Hearing; and
Public Inquiry

The most basic and, often quickest, form is via a written representation. This involves both parties submitting written statements. An Informal Hearing allows the appellant & LPA the chance to address the Planning Inspector and is usually held within a Council meeting room. Public Inquiries are more often reserved for larger and more complicated cases where expert witness or professional legal representation is required and permits both parties the chance to cross examine one another.

Claims of cost can also be made in all of the above types of appeal should the appellant feel that they have incurred unnecessary expenses in dealing with the proceedings due to the unreasonable behaviour of the LPA.

What does it cost?

If your enforcement appeal is made on the grounds that planning permission should be granted this will include an application for planning permission. This typically costs double the amount paid for a normal planning application. The fee is split between the LPA and DCLG. No fee is payable for the appeal itself.

How long does it take?

There is no statutory time frame for determining Enforcement Appeals and this can vary from 3 months to over a year depending on the complexity of the case and type of appeal sought.

However, the following timescales are important:

Within 2 weeks of the start date the LPA will send us and The Planning Inspectorate a questionnaire which they have filled in. They will also inform interested people (i.e. third party objectors) about the appeal by the same date.

Within 6 weeks of the start date we and the LPA must send a statement of your case to The Planning Inspectorate. The Planning Inspectorate will send us and the LPA a copy of what the other has sent and any comments from interested people (if they have received them in time).

Within 9 weeks of the start date we and the LPA must send The Planning Inspectorate any comments on each other’s statement and comments from interested people.

If your appeal is being dealt with at an Informal Hearing or Inquiry the above stages may differ.

Withdrawing an Enforcement Appeal

If it has been possible to reach agreement with the LPA, it is possible to withdraw your appeal at any time.

Other information

There is no right of appeal against a Breach of Condition Notice

Unauthorised works to a listed building is a criminal offence

The unauthorised display of advertisements is an offence liable to prosecution.

If you are served with a Section 215 Notice then you would appeal via the Magistrates Court

Heritage / Listed Building Statements

Development in Conservation Areas is more strictly controlled than elsewhere, the intention being not to prevent change but to ensure that the main features of the area are conserved and that new development is sympathetic in character. The Local Planning Authority will require new development in Conservation Areas to have close regard to the scale, traditional building forms, materials and techniques characteristic of the areas.

The Local Planning Authority will require new development in Conservation Areas to have close regard to the scale, traditional building forms, materials and techniques characteristic of the areas. The designation of Conservation areas is normally a result of special architectural or historic interest of an area, the character or appearance of which should be preserved or enhanced.

The special character of these areas is not just made up of buildings, it is also defined by other

features which contribute to particular views and local characteristics, such as:

The way roads, paths and boundaries are laid out

Characteristic building and paving materials

The way buildings are used

Public and private spaces, such as gardens, parks and greens

Trees and street furniture.

Any works, other than a like for like repair, require an application for Listed Building consent. This covers work which, on an unlisted building, would be classed as permitted development. If you propose to carry out either internal or external alterations or extensions to a listed building which would affect its character, you will need to apply for Listed Building consent.

A strong statement is important to accompany any such application.

Third Party Representations

An important part of the planning system is the requirement for neighbour and community consultation. This provides anyone affected by proposals to have their say and make comments on an application.

It is possible to support or object to proposed development and this can impact on the decision of the Local Planning Authority (LPA).

For example, you may be a neighbour who is concerned about new development being proposed next door and how this might impact on your privacy, loss of light, loss of outlook from a window or the character of the local area/setting of your property.

Furthermore, you may be a member of a local community group who is concerned over new development proposals which may affect your village or town. In such circumstances, Benson Planning Studio can provide professional advice to represent your interests and those of the community.

Benson Planning Studio can make representations to the Local Planning Authority on your behalf. We are also able to attend Committee Meetings and present to local Members on your behalf.

Ordnance Survey Maps

We can provide Ordnance Survey Data Site Plans to submit with your planning application. These are available in either 1:200; 1:500; 1250; and 1:2500.

To accompany most planning applications, 1:1250 is the scale which will suit best.

Please get in touch with us to discuss your specific requirements.

Plans & Drawings

As part of your planning application you will be required to submit a range of drawings to the Local Planning Authority. Depending on the scale of the development this can include the following:

  • Site location plan
  • Existing and proposed site layout plans
  • Building floor & roof plans
  • Building elevations
  • Finished floor/site levels & sections
  • Specialist drawings such as perspectives or massing studies

Depending on your location and precise needs, Benson Planning Studio has relationships with a range of both Architects and Architectural Technologists who are able to assist you with your project regardless of size and budget.

We would be happy to discuss your proposals with you and if necessary provide the project management aspect of your development as part of a multi disciplinary working arrangement with other specialists.

Services for Architects & Designers

Benson Planning Studio has established excellent relationships with a number of Architect Practices and Architectural/Building Consultants in the region.

We have a strong track record of working alongside other development professionals and can provide a tailored service to meet individual requirements.

For example, this might involve advice on strategy; the appropriateness of uses within a development; preparing a Planning Statement or Design & Access Statement for your project; or to provide a comprehensive management of the entire application process.