Property Saviour logo
Call Me Back, Please

Trying to sell a house with lapsed planning permission

Property Saviour » Buying » Trying to sell a house with lapsed planning permission

Trying to sell a house with lapsed planning permission? You won’t get a favourable response from developers as their offers are usual conditional based on success of planning permission being granted again.

You’ve purchased a piece of land with permission to build a house, or you have obtained planning approval for an extension. However, money has been tighter than expected when you applied.  You have tried to cut back and even changed plans to put in a flat roof on the rear extension but still project wasn’t financially viable.

So, you may be wondering: How long does planning permission last? Is there anything you can do to prevent it from expiring before you are ready to start building? How can you keep your planning permission valid? And if it has expired, does that mean you must go through the entire process again?

So, how do you sell a house where planning permission has expired? In this article, we’ll reveal how to sell with certainty and speed without the hassle of dealing with developers, speculators, and estate agents.

Table of Contents

How long does planning permission last?

Planning permission last for three from date of being granted by the local authority.

Let’s assume your site is not unusual. With full planning permission, you have three years to start construction work, and with outline planning permission, you have three years to seek planning permission for your reserved matters.

What kind of planning permission do you have?

If you put in the application, you will know what type of permission you have. However, if you purchased land or a building with planning permission in place, you could verify it on the local council’s planning portal. For a smaller project such as building a garden room or a garage, planning is relatively straightforward.

Full planning permission includes all aspects of a project. Once you have ensured that you comply with all conditions from the local planning authority’s approval letter (and have obtained building regulations approval), you are ready to commence the construction.

Outline planning permission is typically used for larger projects. Essentially, you are seeking the local authority’s agreement on the overall concept of the scheme. Later, when you are prepared, you submit separate applications covering the specific details (‘reserved matters’).

These reserve matters include things like parking for resident, visitor and access by emergency services as well financial contribution towards local infrastructure also known as community infrastructure levy or CIL.

In both cases, you have a three-year window to take action and maintain the validity of your planning permission. So, what exactly do you need to do?

Sell a house with lapsed planning permission
Planning permission last for three from date of being granted by the local authority.

How to keep planning permission alive?

Once upon a time, planning permission had no time limit. However, in the 1960s, local authorities decided that too many landowners were receiving permission but failing to build. Therefore, in 1968, the government implemented a five-year cut-off. In 2009, this was further reduced to the current three years.

The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that if you obtain planning permission, you actually act upon it. If you have outline permission, you must finalise your details and submit your applications for approval before the three-year deadline. Subsequently, after the approval of the final reserved matter, you are granted an additional two years to commence construction.

For individuals with full planning permission, it is essential to begin the building works within three years. While this may sound straightforward, what should you do if you are unprepared to start construction?

What constitutes starting work for planning permission?

Things get less straightforward here. You might think that at this point, you have to start work and keep going until you finish. But in practice, that’s not how things work. In many cases, if you take some visible first action, you can keep your approval alive without beginning the main construction phase.

This is a slippery area that has been the subject of several court cases, so we’re not going to promise that there is one thing you can do that will always work here. But we can make suggestions to solve how planning permission can last longer than the initial three years.

These are the actions – ‘material operations’ – listed in the amended version of the Town And Country Planning Act 1990 that demonstrate the beginning of work (often referred to as ‘commencement of development’) on a site:

  • any work of construction in the course of the erection of a building;
  • any work of demolition of a building; 
  • the digging of a trench which is to contain the foundations, or part of the foundations, of a building;
  • the laying of any underground main or pipe to the foundations, or part of the foundations, of a building or to any such trench;
  • any operation in the course of laying out or constructing a road or part of a road;
  • any change in the use of any land which constitutes material development.

As you can see, in many cases, you can meet these conditions without committing yourself to hiring a full construction crew. For example, ‘digging a trench to contain part of the foundations’ is a popular strategy that local authorities often accept as evidence that construction is underway.

Can you extend life of planning permission application?

No, you cannot renew or extend your planning permission. Once planning permission has been granted, you only have two options:

  1. Start construction within the allotted time.
  2. Make a new planning application.
Can you extend life of planning permission application
For individuals with full planning permission, it is essential to begin the building works within three years.

What can go wrong with starting work to keep planning permission alive?

First, here’s some good news: you don’t have to worry about whether you’re officially starting work right now or just beginning to prevent your planning permission from expiring. The courts have ruled that the homeowner’s or developer’s intentions are irrelevant.

So, what matters? There are two key things to remember.

The first one is quite straightforward. Your initial work must be carried out in the correct location. For instance, if you’re excavating a trench for foundations, that trench must be precisely where the foundations are indicated in the drawings you submitted for your planning approval.

The second issue is a bit more complex. Your starting works need to go beyond the bare minimum. However, since this can be subjective, it means that a council official – or, in the worst-case scenario, the courts – will be evaluating whether you have done an adequate job.

Can you renew or extend planning permission?

In the past, the answer to ‘how long does planning permission last?’ was ‘three years, and then you can apply for renewal’. However, in 2013, the government removed the option of paying your fee and the local authority extending its approval as long as there had been no major changes to your site or in their policies.

Now, you have two options: prevent your permission from expiring, as discussed above, or submit a new application. A legislation update made in October 2023 grants councils greater authority to refuse planning applications from those who previously obtained planning permission but allowed it to lapse by not commencing works within the required three-year period.

It is crucial to consider this if you are submitting a new application.

Can lapsed planning permission be reinstated?

No, if planning permission has lapsed, then you will need to reapply.

How to reapply for expired planning permission
Reapplying for planning permission is not necessarily different from applying for it originally.

How to reapply for expired planning permission?

Reapplying for planning permission is not necessarily different from applying for it originally. The official stance is that even if you were granted approval, let’s say, five years ago, your new application will be treated just like any other fresh application. However, the treatment your application r

eceives may vary depending on its scale. For instance, if you are planning to extend your home, the fact that you haven’t started building yet may not pose a practical issue for your local council.

On the flip side, if you hold permission to construct 20 flats but have not initiated the project, this could impact the housing supply situation. Many councils, particularly in London, are concerned about ‘land banking,’ where companies retain developable land until its value peaks rather than developing it.

Maintaining an active planning permission could be seen as part of this practice. Consequently, some councils have the discretion to refuse assessment of a planning application that mirrors one that has recently expired.

If your project involves minor enhancements to your house and you have no intentions of making significant alterations, you likely already possess all the necessary drawings, surveys, and additional information from the previous process. While having received permission previously does not guarantee approval again, it does establish a helpful precedent – provided that no major changes have occurred.

Therefore, before reapplying for an expired planning permission, it’s advisable to verify if the Local Planning Authority (LPA) has revised its policies and examine the outcomes of similar recent applications.

If planning officers are now rejecting applications like yours or if the council has shifted its stance on certain types of development, seeking advice from a planner or engaging an architect to adapt your plans accordingly would be prudent.

The scale and nature of your project might influence the situation, with smaller projects like extensions or conversions potentially facing less resistance to changes in the council’s approach compared to larger developments such as housing schemes.

Regardless of your project’s size, conducting thorough research or enlisting the expertise of professionals to guide you through the reapplication process for expired planning permission is crucial.

Does planning permission add value to property?

Yes planning permission does add value.  It turns a property into viable investment to unlock the true value.  However, planning permission isn’t guaranteed and if refused can reduce that potential value.

The value it adds depends on several factors:

  1. Type of property: land, house, or commercial space
  2. The property’s location
  3. Determine if the permission will add extra usable floor space.
  4. Planning permission is granted for a period of 3 years, after which it may be reapplied for.

What type of permission is obtained: Change of Use, Listed Building, Conservation Area Consent.

How does planning permission add value?

Purchasing a property is an investment, just like any other. However, there are inherent risks involved. Planning permission can help mitigate that element of risk and uncertainty associated with a property. It means the property has potential.

It gives the new owner confidence that even if the building or land doesn’t suit their needs at present, it can be redesigned, adapted, or extended in the future. Planning permission also opens up possibilities for new uses and long-term development.

For instance, a small house in a desirable area may not suit a family in its current state. But if it has planning permission for a loft conversion and extension, it may become more attractive as it has the potential to provide the additional space they require.

For developers and investors, planning permission offers a great return on investment (ROI). This is especially relevant if the planning permission adds more floor space. Property valuations are often based on area – £/sqft or £/sqm. So, obtaining planning permission for more floor area increases the value of the property.

Even if the planning permission has expired or was for a different scheme, the principle of permission has been established. This can make a new or revised application more acceptable

. Of course, local planning policies could have changed and may now negate the lapsed permission. Usually, though, there is still a good argument to be made for new consent, depending on the proposal.

How do you sell a house with lapsed planning permission
Here at Property Saviour, you can sell with certainty and speed.  We’ll make you a cash offer, complete the purchase in 10 days or at your timescale.

How do you sell a house with lapsed planning permission?

The lack of planning permission brings uncertainty as many developers want reassurance that planning will be granted and make you an offer subject to planning.

This scenario makes it difficult to sell via an estate agent due to the natural of conditional offers and the sale taking forever to conclude.

Property auctions can be a viable alternative however, you will have to pay upfront auction entry fees, legal fees and searches in hope that property sell.  Auctions require up to 3 3-month timeframe because you need to allow one month before auction for marketing and a further month or so for completion – possibly longer with a modern method of auction.

If you pick the wrong auction and the property doesn’t sell, it leaves a stigma on the property as many buyers wonder ‘why’ it didn’t sell.

Here at Property Saviour, you can sell with certainty and speed.  We’ll make you a cash offer, complete the purchase in 10 days or at your timescale, pay £1,500 towards your legal fees and request a positive review when we’ve completed the purchase.

So many sellers have left us positive reviews and shared their success stories. Would you like to become our next success story?

Sell with certainty & speed

auction hammer

Property Saviour Price Promise

  • The price we’ll offer is the price that you will receive with no hidden deductions.
  • Be careful with ‘cash buyers’ who require a valuation needed for a mortgage or bridging loan.
  • These valuations or surveys result in delays and price reductions later on.
  • We are cash buyers.  There are no surveys.
  • We always provide proof of funds with every formal offer issued.

We'll Pay £1,500 Towards Your Legal Fees

  • No long exclusivity agreement to sign because we are the buyers.
  • You are welcome to use your own solicitor. 
  • If you don’t have one, we can ask our solicitors for recommendations.
  • We share our solicitor’s details and issue a Memorandum of Sale. 

Sell With Certainty & Speed

  • Our approach is transparent and ethical, which is why sellers trust us.
  • 100% Discretion guaranteed. 
  • If you have another buyer, you can put us in a contracts race to see who completes first.
  • Complete in 10 days or at a timescale that works for you.  You are in control.
Share This Article:

Related Articles

Skip to content