The only thing standing between you and your dream are two words; planning permission, so let's see if we can get them!
Planning applications are considered against a backdrop of local and national planning policies, which sets out what is and is not, acceptable. Because few policies are black or white, there is a great deal of uncertainty and matters left to interpretation, which is why using an agent can help. It is my job to use my experience and knowledge in how policies are used, and how they support your application. In some cases, the planning officer will disagree (any agent who claims to always get planning permission is perhaps not telling you the truth, or taking on such easy jobs that don't require an agent in the first place).
The planning application process requires a number of documents depending on whether the site is listed, in a conservation area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, within a defined settlement boundary, whether there are any ecological constraints, tree constraints and a huge host of other factors ... all dependant to what you're actually proposing!
The first step is to assemble what's needed and if necessary, contact third party specialists or consultants.
The pulling together of information, documents, drawings, reports, concept sketches, viability studies, ecological surveys, tree reports, highway data and so on can take time, but it is essential that this information, where necessary, is easily accessible and understandable. It is important that they don't contradict each other, nor use recommendations that are unrealistic or even unachievable.
Once the complete application is drafted, it will be sent to you for your comments (the chances are that you'll have seen it all before in various states, so hopefully there will be no surprises).
I require written approval (usually, clients e mail with "Fingers crossed, let's do it!").
The nail biting bit!
The application will be made electronically, so the next step is for the local planning authority to look over all the application, making sure that the plans have scale bars, that the reports needed are present, that the statutory requirements are met. This is important to remember as it isn't necessarily a final list or what's needed, sometimes, a planning officer will identify a required piece of information during the process.
Planning applications usually take 8 weeks (they can be determined in a shorter timeframe, but given the continued and sustained workload, very rarely are). So as best you can, put it to the back of your mind.
Planning permission is almost certainly the aim, and I love to be the first to share the news with you, but most clients are keenly watching their applications online and actually notice before I have chance to tell them! All permissions have conditions, some are self-fulfilling (be commenced within three years, carried out in accordance with the approved plans and so on) but others will require you to discharge conditions. It is essential that you read over the planning permission and fully understand any obligations you have.
Once conditions have been discharged, my involvement usually ends and it is over to you to actually get 'it' started.
Refusal of planning permission are probably my least favourite four words! The proposal may be refused for a minor reason and one that can be easily overcome, in which case, plans can be revised / tailored to meet the requirements of the planning authority and resubmitted. In other cases, changes are more major and can require a complete revisit and redesign (it is rare to have to start over again, and this risk is significantly reduced if pre-application submissions are made - though not eliminated).
In a few cases, it can seem like the planning officer just hasn't got the application at all; that they've missed the point, that they don't like you and that your application has been refused because they'd rather had have spent the day trying to complete a Rubik's Cube in the dark whilst reciting the Chinese alphabet backwards (well, that might be an exaggeration, but you get my point). For cases that seem wrong, there is an appeals process, which takes the application away from the local authority, away from local politics and gives the opportunity to have a second opinion.