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What are Planning Drawings?

As the foremost crucial part of any construction, ‘Planning drawings’ visually outline the existing and proposed design(s) of a building (or building project) to an approximate degree; that is to say that they are not detailed technical drawings the likes of which are used for Building Control purposes (to read more on Building Control drawings, click here 

[Link to more detailed Blog page relating to Building Control Services].

They can serve different purposes, amongst which the most typical are:

  • To support a planning permission application (e.g. for an extension to your current property).
  • To simply help envisage a particular design and get a sense of what is possible.

Planning Drawings for Planning Permission Applications

Planning drawings are an essential element of a planning permission application submission as they serve to communicate your vision (as interpreted by the architect) to the planner so that the latter can understand how the project fits into the landscape as a whole.

They convey to the local planning department the scope of works, appearance and layout of the proposal, paying particular attention to the proposed materials and main features of the building.

Furthermore, these drawings are useful during the construction phase as they allow builders to see exactly what it is that you hope to achieve with your build. They can be used in tender invitations sent to Builders but will not be the plans from which Builders eventually take instruction during the construction phase.

These diagrams do not depict the main technicalities of a project rather, their primary purpose tends to be related to space planning, general improvements (both internally and externally), etc. In terms of drawings, the bare minimum required typically consists of:

  • A Site Location Plan – Basically a map base that shows the location of the application site in relation to neighbouring roads, buildings and other land.
  • A Site Layout plan (or Block Plan) – More detailed in scale than a Site Location Plan, and shows a more comprehensive layout of your particular site.
  • Elevations – These convey what a building will look like from the outside before and after development.
  • Floor Plans – Floor Plans show the new layout of the building. They are typically accompanied by Floor plans of the existing state of the building.
  • Existing and Proposed Site Sections and Finished Floor/Site Levels – Where a proposal involves a significant change in ground levels, illustrative drawings should normally be submitted to show both existing and finished levels.
  • Street Scene or Context Plan – Normally required for works that will be visible from the road, and are needed under several sets of circumstances. For example, they are especially important for new buildings or large side extensions that will be near to the parcel boundary or to a neighbouring building, and also where there is a notable difference in height between the proposed works and the existing neighbouring dwellings or buildings.
  • Roof Plans – Used to show the shape of the roof, particularly when development includes changes to its appearance and shape.
  • Landscaping Plans – These should show the position and spread of existing trees, species of said trees and their respective conditions and an indication of how they will be affected by the development (position changes, felling, etc).
  • Joinery Drawings and Details – Detail exactly what fixtures and fittings are to be replaced and what they are being replaced with.
  • 3D Floor Plans – 3D floor plans aren’t necessarily a requirement for architects’ drawings for planning permission, as they function on a more intimate scale, but are – of course – an essential part of interior design projects. The idea behind these is to provide clients with a clear visualisation of their development in terms of flow, furniture location and to give a truer sense of the scale of the space, as compared to the bare dimensions of the 2D floor plan.

Planning drawings do not need to be 100% accurate and, in certain circumstances, can be altered when the construction work is being undertaken (under some Building regulations).

Whether your changes fall into Permitted Development or they fall into the requirement for full householder planning permission, having these plans is an essential requirement as they can present visual information in a format that is quick to understand in terms of the project’s general layout, massing and context.


Planning Application Requirements

The Town & Country Planning Act requires planning applications to include

  • A plan which identifies the land to which the application relates’.
  • Any other plans, drawings and information necessary to describe the development which is the subject of the application’.

The first requirement results in the need for a ‘location plan’ and the second requirement results in whatever else is necessary. Neither requirement is very informative.

The Act also requires that ‘any plans or drawings required to be provided … must be drawn to an identified scale and, in the case of plans, must show the direction of North’.

The UK Government does provide further guidance. Regarding location plans:

  • A location plan should be based on an up-to-date map. The scale should typically be 1:1250 or 1:2500, but wherever possible the plan should be scaled to fit onto A4 or A3 size paper. A location plan should identify sufficient roads and/or buildings on land adjoining the application site to ensure that the exact location of the application site is clear’.
  • The application site should be edged clearly with a red line on the location plan. It should include all land necessary to carry out the proposed development (eg land required for access to the site from a public highway, visibility splays, landscaping, car parking and open areas around buildings). A blue line should be drawn around any other land owned by the applicant, close to or adjoining the application site’.

Regarding other drawings it advises the following:

  • Additional plans and drawings will in most cases be necessary to describe the proposed development’.
  • These may be requested by the local planning authority through their local list of information requirements, where it is reasonable to do so’.

Reference is then made to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF):

  • Local planning authorities should publish a list of their information requirements for applications, which should be proportionate to the nature and scale of development proposals and reviewed on a frequent basis. Local planning authorities should only request supporting information that is relevant, necessary and material to the application in question’.

In other words, apart from the location plan which is a legal requirement, it is down to the Local Planning Authority (‘LPA’) to decide what drawings should be submitted with an application. It would therefore be worth visiting your LPA’s website and/or contacting them directly to see if there is a recommended list of requirements.

The Application Process – A Summary

Below are the general key stages typically comprising the Planning approval application process which is largely governed by legislation and is designed to allow the input of expert and interested parties into the decision making process:

  • Pre-application Advice

It is highly recommended that you obtain pre-application planning advice from the council to which you will be applying as they can advise you on whether your proposal is likely to be approved or not, and can recommend changes to ensure that your planning application has the best chance of success.

  • Application and Validation

Submitting your planning application (which includes your Planning drawings) to the council (typically via an online portal).

  • Consultation and Publicity

Consultation letters are sent to neighbours and, where applicable, various bodies to obtain their expert view.

  • Site visit and Assessment

The site is inspected and the application assessed by the planning case officer, taking into account planning policies, consultation responses and public representations.

Where relevant, the planning officer will also gather any site specific information such as photographs.

  • Recommendation

The planning officer will make a recommendation on the application to the person or body authorised to make a decision.

  • Decision

A decision is taken on the application by the appropriate body.

Applications can be approved or refused.

Approved applications will often have conditions attached that must be complied with.

If your application is refused and you do not believe the decision was correct then you do have the right to appeal.

Typical Charges

When submitting an application, in most cases there will be a planning application fee. However, for some types of consent, e.g. listed buildings and planning permission for relevant demolition in a conservation area, no application fee is required.

You can calculate the planning application fee yourself using the Planning Portal’s online fee calculator which can be found by using the following link:

If you are unsure about the appropriate fee for your application, you are strongly advised to contact your local planning authority in advance of submitting your application, as an incorrect fee will delay the processing of your application.

Since September 2018, the Planning Portal website, via which you application is submitted, has processed all payments for planning applications made online. This means that your online application is paid for using a standardised set of payment options. What this means is that a service charge of £23.33 (+ VAT) will apply to all planning applications submitted through the online application system, excluding applications which do not attract a planning application fee and those with a fee below £60. This is payable at the time of submission.

Planning Permission Application vs Building Regulations Application

Effectively, a Planning Permission application is a request for approval to carry out a proposed development.

On the other hand, a building regulations application is for seeking to have the details of your development checked and approved for compliance with the standards of construction.

They are requirements for separate pieces of legislation and whether either (or both) are required is context-dependent; one does not grant consent for the other!

Ana Sidorova – Planning Application Services

Hopefully the above has sufficiently highlighted the need for, and the pivotal role of, Planning drawings within the Planning Permissions application process.

Please use the link below to see Ana’s summary of the above, including a section dedicated to the services Sidorova Design can provide pertaining to the Planning Permission application process:

[Link to the SALES summary for Planning Application Services].

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