The hardest and easiest places to get planning permission

The hardest and easiest places to get planning permission
  • New study uncovers the extent of the postcode lottery for prospective renovators, as research shows more than £64 million has been wasted on unsuccessful applications over last three years
  • Enfield in London is the hardest place to get planning permission, with just 65% of applications granted – 26% less than the country’s average of 91%
  • The easiest place to get applications approved is Carlisle in Cumbria, with a 99% approval rate
  • Google search data also predicts UK renovation hotspots, with Stockport residents most likely to renovate their homes in 2020

As working from home becomes the new ‘normal’ and the country adapts to new ways of living, working and socialising, many of us are now looking to renovate our homes to gain some all-important extra space.

Large home improvements like extensions and conversions can often require planning permission. So as part of a new renovation study, Roofing Megastore analysed three years of planning application data from the Ministry of Housing, to discover where planning applications are most and least likely to be granted around the country.

The online roofing merchant calculated the percentage of applications granted and rejected at more than 300 district planning authorities around the country, and the results show on average 91% of applications are successful. But, depending on where you live, the success rate for your local area could be as low as 65%, or as high as 99%.

Eight out of the top 10 most difficult places to get planning permission are in London, with Londoners spending a massive £21 million over the past three years on unsuccessful applications. The hardest place to get planning permission is Enfield, with a success rate of just 65%, which is a massive 26% lower than the country’s average. Rochdale in Manchester and Southend-on-Sea in Essex are the only two places outside the capital to feature on the list.

The 10 Hardest Places to Get Planning Permission in England: (based on % of applications granted)

  1.      Enfield, London                                              65.13%
  2.      Hillingdon, London                                        66.01%
  3.      Harrow, London                                             69.56%
  4.      Hounslow, London                                         71.24%
  5.      Greenwich, London                                       71.47%
  6.      Lambeth, London                                           73.55%
  7.      Rochdale, Greater Manchester                   74.03%
  8.      Southend-on-Sea, Essex                               74.46%
  9.      Newham, London                                          76.02%
  10.   Bromley, London                                            76.82%

Across the country, the research reveals 309,403 planning applications were unsuccessful over the past three years, which is likely to have cost renovators more than £64 million.

Numerous factors affect how likely an application is to be granted – different areas have specific building regulations, planning constraints and development targets. So, this research provides valuable insight into which areas could be the most challenging if you’re planning a renovation that needs planning permission.

At the other end of the spectrum, the study also reveals the top 10 places most likely to grant an application. According to the data, it’s much easier to gain planning permission in the north of the country – six Northern districts feature in the top 10, three of which are in Cumbria. None of the top 10 easiest places are within London, and just four are in the South of England: Vale of White Horse, Fareham, Cornwall and Rushmoor.

The 10 Easiest Places to Get Planning Permission in England: (based on % of applications granted)

  1.      Carlisle, Cumbria                                            98.90%
  2.      Copeland, Cumbria                                        98.72%
  3.      Richmondshire, North Yorkshire                98.17%
  4.      Vale of White Horse, Oxfordshire              97.89%
  5.      County Durham, North East                        97.82%
  6.      Fareham, Hampshire                                     97.79%
  7.      Cornwall, South West                                   97.39%
  8.      Eden, Cumbria                                                97.38%
  9.      North West Leicestershire, Midlands        97.36%
  10.      Rushmoor, Hampshire                                  97.36%
  11.   Darlington, County Durham                        97.29%

Renovation Hotspots for 2020

To discover the places where people are most likely to renovate their homes this year, researchers also analysed Google search data to estimate how many of us could be either planning a project or looking for inspiration.

According to the data, Stockport (Greater Manchester) residents appear to be most interested in renovating this year, closely followed by Rochdale and Warrington. Northern areas dominate the list, showing that the desire to make larger home improvements is more prevalent there than in the south of the country.

Top 10 Home Renovation Hotspots in the UK:

  1.      Stockport, Greater Manchester
  2.      Rochdale, Greater Manchester
  3.      Warrington, Cheshire
  4.      Peterborough, Cambridgeshire
  5.      Wigan, Greater Manchester
  6.      St Helens, Merseyside
  7.      Oldham , Greater Manchester
  8.      Bolton, Greater Manchester
  9.      Doncaster, South Yorkshire
  10.   Bournemouth, Dorset

Gian-Carlo Grossi, Managing Director at Roofing Megastore commented:

“Home has always been where the heart is, but this year, it’s also needed to be a school, an office, and even perhaps a gym or a cinema. As the world continues to adapt to new ways of living, space is becoming increasingly important for many. We predict a sharp rise in people looking to renovate or adapt their homes in 2020 and beyond, whether that’s to create a home office, to build extra bedrooms or just to optimise their living space.

“Roofing Megastore’s ethos is about simplifying processes and adding value. Our founders launched with a simple mission: to simplify the world of roofing and to provide trade prices to everybody. So, given how time consuming and costly the process of applying for planning permission can be, we wanted to conduct this research to provide prospective renovators with valuable information that could save them thousands.”

To read more about the research, and to learn more about the types of projects that require planning permission, visit

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