Planning Drawings / Permitted Development Drawings

Planning Drawings Intro

To submit a Planning Application or Permitted Development Application, known as a ‘Lawful Development Application’, you will need a set of planning application plans that show the ‘existing’ building/features (before the building work was done) and the ‘proposed’ alterations (meaning what it does/will look like after building work). Sometimes Permitted Development application plans or Planning Permission application plans are submitted after the work has been done which makes the use of ‘existing’ and ‘proposed’ terminology a little confusing.

What Drawings Are Needed?

The minimum requirements for Planning Permission Drawings and Permitted Development Plans are:

Elevations – The Council needs to see the existing and proposed side-on views of the property drawn from each of the 4 main aspects of the building, and must be accurate to a scale of 1:100 on A3 paper. Elevations are usually presented on 2 separate A3 pages with 4 elevation drawings on each page. As you can’t really fit more than 4 drawings neatly on a page, there is usually one page for existing elevations and another page for proposed drawings.

Floor Plans – Similarly the Council will need to see how the building is laid out internally, on each storey, to understand how the building is and will be used. Floor plans must also be accurately drawn at a scale of 1:100 and the north point compass must be added to the drawing. You can usually fit single storey building’s elevations, existing and proposed, on a single page, unless for example there are outbuildings that also need to be drawn. However, 2 storey buildings are often drawn 2 floors to a page.

When the council receives the application, they have 2 weeks in which to validate it. During this period the Council will reject drawings if they are not drawn precisely to scale. Homeowners can draw elevations and floor plans themselves, but don’t be surprised if, after hours of hard work making them, they are rejected as this is a common occurrence.

It Starts With Design

In the past, we have used several different types of computer aided design (CAD) software programme to produce our drawings, and we have found a wide discrepancy of quality exists between them. Earlier in 2020 we switched to use a software called SketchUp because it enables greater creativity and collaboration within the design process via virtual reality modelling.

So why is creative design important when manufacturing a set of technical drawings? Whilst it is a mathematical process that requires precision and an engineering perspective to accurately translate a real life 3D object (i.e. a house) into a 2D image, the drawings are the culmination of aspirations and ideas from the people who will live in, utilise, share and enjoy their new space for as long as they live there. We believe that a good design process is based on the clear exchange of ideas that turn the client’s fantasy home aspirations into a building that performs every bit as well as it is beautiful to look at.

We begin by consulting with our client on the purpose for their home and it’s new space to understand the emphasis they place on form (the aesthetic feel of the space) and function (how well the space performs and solves problems). The emphasis put on these 2 factors is determined by the client’s personality, lifestyle, aspirations and budget. We will often use a questionnaire as the starting point when gathering our client’s requirements.

We start our drawings by building a faithful 3D virtual reality model of our client’s house, that includes details such as the colour and texture of the building materials used. This 3D model serves as a great tool in helping us and our clients visualise the outside and inside of the existing and new spaces, making it so much easier to make critical design decisions that the client will have to live with long after the building work has finished.

The example above shows images from before, during design and after the renovation of a 350 year old pub, highlighting how realistic the 3D virtual reality design tool is. I’d say that this project couldn’t have turned out quite as well as did had it not been for the 3D modelling. Given that the building was part derelict and not used as a home, it would have been extremely challenging even for experienced professionals to visualise the finished space during the design phase, and nigh on impossible for the client.

Actually, loft conversions are another particularly good example of just how useful the 3D VR tool is, as it is difficult to translate a dark, dusty loft into a fresh new bedroom with en-suite that looks out on the garden via a spacious dormer window etc. The importance of good visualisation here is to enable key decisions to be made before building works start. Examples include whether a particular wardrobe will fit; deciding the best configuration for a shower, toilet and basin in the en-suite; what size shower to choose, and will there be enough room for a king size double bed in the bedroom as the clients like to sit up in bed on a Sunday morning! These are all important to get right in the design stage as each client’s requirements are bespoke to them.

The example in the video above shows a barn conversion where the client is having 2 large dormers built, one for each mezzanine floor at opposite ends of the building. The client initially wanted a permanent staircase built at one end of the living room going up to mezzanine 1 and visualised a galleried landing to connect to the other mezzanines. It wasn’t until we shared creative ideas back and forth over the 3D model that they decided to put the stairs at the other end of the barn completely. The 3D model helped us see clearly that the stairs would become the focal point of a stunning design scheme if we remove the French doors and placed the stairs in front of a new window. We created 2 virtual reality models so my clients could easily decide which iteration they preferred.

Once all the layout and design decisions are made and our client is completely comfortable with the myriad of decisions and solutions involved in reaching their final design, we export the floor plan and elevation drawings. We write up and submit the application to the Council, and then manage all correspondence until the Planning decision or Lawful Development Certificate is issued, usually after about 6-8 weeks.