Many of us have spent far too much time lately cooped up in our homes, dreaming about extra space. You might have considered buying a garden office or, as this month’s design article reveals, turning your shed into some kind of outside den. The truth is, if you want enough space for an extra bedroom, bathroom, a home study or even just a bigger kitchen, you’re going to have to build an extension. And that involves the dreaded planning permission (

We’ve all heard horror stories from friends and family about the fights people have had with their local planning departments. About how perfectly reasonable requests have been rejected – multiple times. How planners have insisted on the most ludicrous changes and conditions. That the process has gone on forever. Mostly, though, what we’ve heard is, whatever you want, the answer always seems to be ‘no’.

I know exactly how that feels. I am currently battling it out with my own local planning authorities, who’ve come up with a list of some of the most ludicrous objections I have ever heard. At one point, they even claimed my house was “too near a conservation area”. Surely, either you are in it or not. Or are conservation areas made of stretchable elastic? Anyway, I confess, it led to me using some very unflattering language about them. Some of it not for young ears. However, I may have erred. It turns out they are not the worst planning authority in the country, after all, although their IQs and their parents’ marital status remain unproven.

And how is it that I know this? Roofing Megastore ( has been digging through the data. Now I know for certain who the most difficult planning authorities are. Enfield’s residents – you may want to look away now, because your local planning department is, officially, the worst of the worst. On the other hand, if you like things just the way they are, you might think them the best.

Despite our preconceptions, Roofing Megastore discovered that 91% of planning applications for home renovations in England are granted. It does, though, depend very much on where you live. Your chances of success could be as low as 65% (Enfield), or as high as 99% (Carlisle, Cumbria). So, why are there such big discrepancies? The fact is, planning permission depends on a large number of variables. These range from neighbours’ objections, to site specific factors, the type of development, whether it’s a listed building or in a conservation area and, crucially, where, exactly, the property is located.

And, although there is a national policy framework, there are localised ones too. Planning authorities have their own, area-specific building regulations, planning constraints and development targets. There are also different individuals in charge, with different ideas and agendas. It means the same project could sail through in one area and stand no chance in another. Overall, the most difficult area to get planning permission is London. Below is a list of the top ten hardest places to get permission and 8 out of 10 of them are in the capital. That maybe a result of it being one of the most densely populated areas in the country, as any developments are more likely to impinge on their neighbours.

Sadly, a lot of time and money is wasted on failed applications. A full application for an extension costs £206. Over the past three years, 309,403 were rejected, costing £64 million. If you then add in fees for design, plans and surveys (typically around £2,000), the total waste could be as high as £619 million.

If you’d like to know what chance you have with your own planning project, just follow this link ( and check out your area on the interactive map. As for me, I’m already thinking my best route might be an appeal.

10 Hardest Places to Get Planning Permission in England

Rank    Area                                                  Approved %
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%

10 Easiest Places to Get Planning Permission in England

Rank    Area                                                         Approved %
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%
9           Rushmoor, Hampshire                        97.36%
10         Darlington, County Durham East        97.29%