Bad Planning? Almost 40,000 Retrospective Planning Applications Made In Last Three Years

·         Forty retrospective UK planning applications made on average every day

·         One in eight (12 per cent) retrospective planning applications are refused

·         A single floor extension is the most commonly reported retrospective planning application recorded since the start of 2017 (2,218 applications)

·         Scotland has the greatest number of retrospective planning applications

New research1 from Churchill Home Insurance reveals approximately 39,200 retrospective planning applications have been filed for developments either started or completed in the last three years.  If a homeowner makes a change to their property that requires planning permission and they have not had approval, a local authority can request they submit a retrospective planning application.

With the costs of moving home so high, it is no surprise that home extensions are the most popular reasons for seeking retrospective planning permission. In the last three years, from the councils that responded, the most commonly reported reasons for applying for retrospective planning permission were single-floor extensions (2,218 applications), double-floor extensions (459) loft conversions (424), garage conversions (309) and open-plan spaces (106).

Relying on getting planning permission retrospectively is a risky business, as one in eight are rejected by UK local authorities.  The most common reasons for authorities rejecting applications include the development being out of character (28 per cent), loss of privacy (10 per cent), highway safety (seven per cent), overdevelopment (five per cent) and impact on nature (three per cent).

Pritpal Powar, Head of Churchill home insurance, said: “Homeowners are increasingly choosing to expand their current homes to accommodate growing family sizes, rather than move to a new house. However, before beginning any development, we encourage people to check whether they need planning permission and if they do, to wait until this has been granted before starting work. It is also important for householders to advise their insurance provider on any works they are planning, to ensure they have the correct cover in place for their property.

“Whilst any major household development is likely to come with a certain amount of upheaval, we hope that by taking these steps homeowners should ensure that they aren’t subjected to any unnecessary stress during the process.”

Regional findings

On a regional level, Scotland had the highest number of retrospective planning applications, accounting for 20 per cent (7,949) of all applications over the last three years. This was followed by London (5,612) and the South East (5,372), both receiving 14 per cent of the UK’s retrospective planning applications. 

Wales had the highest refusal rate, with more than a quarter (28 per cent) of retrospective planning applications refused. Around a fifth of applications were denied in both London (21 per cent) and Scotland (18 per cent). When looking at a local council level, the New Forest in Hampshire had the highest rate of refusals of anywhere in the UK, rejecting the overwhelming majority (92 per cent) of retrospective planning applications.

Table one: Total number of retrospective planning applications and rejections between 2017 and 2019

Region Number of applications Number of rejections Rejection rate
East Midlands 2,916 342 12%
East of England  3,944 459 12%
London 5,612 1,176 21%
North East 1,030 102 10%
North West 2,524 347 14%
Northern Ireland 655 18 3%
Scotland 7,949 224 3%
South East 5,372 966 18%
South West  2,567 285 11%
Wales 899 248 28%
West Midlands 3,178 347 11%
Yorkshire and Humber 2,569 244 9%
UK TOTAL 39,214 4,758 12%

Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2019

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Notes to Editor

1          FOI request issued to all UK councils on 22 August 2019, of which 50% replied to the request with usable data. Extrapolated figures calculated based on the populations of participating councils as a proportion of the overall regional population to work out the estimated total number of applications and rejections on a regional level.



For further information please contact:

Chelsey Wheeler
HOME PR Manager

Tel: 01651 832 095

Email: [email protected]

Nick Andrews

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]




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