planning permission books

Although we generally advise against homeowners trying to apply themselves for planning permission due to the complexity of regulations and the tediousness of dealing with Local Planning Authorities, we do believe it’s a good idea for them to learn what’s involved in this process, why some practices have more success than others and why some local councils have different sets of rules that come into the decision process of whether to grant approval for a project or turn it down. Or you even apply to get planning permission yourselves if you feel confident enough.

As with other subjects, we’ve put together a list of books that we think are the most representative for the subject they approach. These are in general essential reference materials for anyone trying to understand how certain things work and why they work that way in the world of human structures of the UK, but they can also serve the architecture, development, drafting, surveying specialists and students as guides for the various new projects and situations they encounter in their jobs, as well as being must-haves for every practice in the UK.

We’ve only mentioned the planning permission books that we deem are the most important for the general public and some construction and architectural related activities, so list below is by no means complete or addressing all the issues related to the matter. Please feel free to suggest other materials in the comments, if you believe they belong here.

How to Get Planning Permission, 5th Ed (2016), by Roy Speer

how to get planning permission 2016

How to Get Planning Permission, 2016

Now at its 5th edition (2016), How to Get Planning Permission for newbuilds, extensions, conversions and alterations also includes some generic handy information about how to appeal when plans don’t get approved by the Local Planning Authority, it’s completely redesigned and properly updated to include the latest regulations.



The sort of book that it’s always good to keep on the shelve for when needed (and, from experience we say that sooner or later it will be needed if your practice has had an occasional bad period in terms of plans approval), How to Get Planning Permission provides good coverage of the planning world overall, as someone said, but if you’re to looking to get a deeper understanding on some of the chapters, having a look at the Local Authorities’ supporting documents section will help you for sure.

The material is written clearly and with great attention to laying out information as simple as possible while not skipping on any of the important stuff. In our opinion the authors managed to do a better job in explaining (using easy to understand examples and sample forms) how to overcome application refusals in the previous edition, but that’s just us, your experience may differ in that respect. The essential is that this edition is packed with valuable advice and insider tips (both Speer and Dade are Chartered Planning and Development Surveyors with degrees in Estate Management and they also run their own planning practice) and it includes sample letters, forms and plans. A must-have, if you ask us.

Book excerpt

[…] What is planning permission? Do you need it? Who gives it? How’s the decision made? The answers to these questions aren’t always easy to find out. Planning permission can be a complex subject. The people you might turn to immediately – builders, solicitors and architects – often don’t fully understand all the technicalities, procedural requirements and tactical points. In the first part of this book we look at the basics of planning permission, what it, when you need it, who grants it and how it’s decided. 


Planning Permission (2016), by Richard Harwood

planning permission by Richard Harwood

Planning Permission, 2016

This brand new title that sets out the law and practice of planning applications, appeals and challenges, particularly focussing on the need for planning permission and the concept of development, permitted development rights, applying for planning permission and the consideration of applications by local authorities and planning appeals, among other very relevant themes.



A no-nonsense book that keeps the readers’ eyes on the ball and considered a thorough work on the law and practice in England and Wales, the material is nevertheless sizeable with its 1248 pages long (appendices included) and can be a bit of an effort to go through it for the uninitiated, being aimed primarily at the professionals.

Dealing with why planning permission is needed, how it is obtained by permitted development, planning applications and orders, this essential new title starts with the concept of development, the need for planning permission and permitted development rights and we recommend that it should be obtained by all professionals dealing with property and conveyancing or development. This thoroughly practical and comprehensive guide on all aspects of planning law for practitioners also covers other means of obtaining planning permission, such as local development orders, and discusses the relevant proposals in the Housing and Planning Bill.

Planning Permission analyses the legal rules and caselaw, including the 2015 orders. Practical advice is given on making and responding to applications, dealing with planning committees, Ministerial interventions, appeals and call-ins. The operation of the Planning Court is also addressed from the practitioner’s perspective. Helpful appendices include the relevant parts of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the Development Management Procedure Order 2015, the General Permitted Development Order 2015, the Use Classes Order and the appeal rules and regulations.


A Practical Approach to Planning Law 13th Ed (2015), by Michael Purdue, Victor Moore

A Practical Approach to Planning Law 2015

A Practical Approach to Planning Law 2015

Originally published in 1987, A Practical Approach to Planning Law has reached its 13th edition in 2015 and it now incorporates all the latest major legislative changes that should concern surveyors, solicitors and the general public (to a certain degree), including the ditching of thousands of pages of Circulars, PPGs, PPSs (and other government planning policy guidance) and the adoption of the National Planning Policy Framework.



Planning law is one of the most rapidly moving legal areas, with major structural changes to the planning system occurring in recent years. Despite these attempts at simplification, it remains one of the most complex fields for both students and practitioners to navigate. In this continually evolving arena the thirteenth edition of A Practical Approach to Planning Law is an authoritative and reliable resource for all those working in the area, providing a comprehensive and systematic account of the principles and practice of planning law. The text guides the reader through each stage of the planning process, from permission applications through to disputes and appeals in a clear and accessible style.

Containing coverage of all recent cases as well as important legislative and policy developments since the publication of the previous edition, particularly those arising out of the Localism Act 2011, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, the Enterprise and Regulation Reform Act 2013 and the National Planning Policy Framework, this new edition provides an invaluable introduction to the subject for professionals and students alike.


Complete Planning Permission: How to get it, stop it or alter it (2014), by Roy Speer, Mike Dade

Complete Planning Permission: How to get it, stop it or alter it

Complete Planning Permission: How to get it, stop it or alter it (2014)

Although “How to get Planning Permission” book (#1, above) is pretty much an updated version of this, this material is still an excellent resource for anyone wanting to learn more about obtaining planning permission, particularly because it’s written in a way that makes it very easy to understand the laws and procedures regarding this activity. The price is roughly the same, so it’s comes down to personal preferences.

Some people prefer this one for its simplicity, but you can argue either way for some advantage. Ideally, they should complement each other, so you have the best overview possible can over the subject.


Book excerpt

[…] With a step-by-step guide to every part of the application process and exhaustive coverage of the do’s and don’ts, this is an essential guide to securing that first step on the path to building your dream home. And if you’re worried about a nearby development, there are easily implemented strategies for preventing planning permission from being granted.

Do You Require Planning Permission? 3rd Ed(2014), by John Crean

Do You Require Planning Permission?

Do You Require Planning Permission? (2014)

Do You Require Planning Permission? contains a clear statement as to whether permission is required in a given situation, with visual aids to assist where necessary. The book also alerts the reader to areas where the opinion of an expert should be sought as development issues are likely to be more complex. This new edition incorporates changes made under the Planning Act 2000 and the Planning Regulations 2001.


It is intended as an easy to use reference guide for solicitors, planning consultants, architects, surveyors, engineers and builders in negotiating the area of exempted development and determining what does and what doesn’t require planning permission.

This material is part of the What is the Law series handbooks for anyone who requires an understanding of the law and its procedures. Avoiding legalese and technical jargon (though some of it is literally unavoidable if one has to follow the specialist vocabulary), these books explain the fundamentals of a particular subject in clear straightforward language – answering common questions that arise.


Do you need help with planning permission applications? Why not drop us an email and we could save you all the headache.



  • Updated on 5 April 2018: title.
  • 17th August 2019 update: internal links correction.
1 reply
  1. John Lunt
    John Lunt says:

    Hello, I have just completed a course for the preparation of building plans but require a good source of information regarding what is acceptable when preparing plans for a residential extension etc. Could you advise a book which would be more suited for my application? Thank you.


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