Most people only come into contact with the planning system when decisions have to be taken about whether something can be built in their area.
Most new buildings or major changes to existing buildings or to the local environment need consent - known as planning permission. Each application for planning permission is made to the local planning authority for the area. The application must include enough detail for the authority to see what effect the development could have on the area. If the planning application is in line with the approved plan, the applicant can usually expect to receive planning permission within eight weeks for householders. Approval for larger, commercial developments often take longer.
Permitted development. Some types of minor building work - such as a small rear single storey extension - do not need planning permission. This is because the effect of these developments on neighbours or the environment is likely to be small, and the government has issued a general planning permission to authorise them. This is known as permitted development.
Some areas have special protection against certain developments because they contain attractive landscape (like national parks) or interesting plants and wildlife, or because we need to control the spread of towns and villages into open countryside (like the greenbelt). Some smaller areas of land also contain ancient monuments that must not be damaged. Some buildings are specially protected or listed because of their architectural or historic interest. If the local authority refuses permission, the person applying can appeal to the government. Appeals are dealt with by the Planning Inspectorate.