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What is planning permission?

What is planning permission?

Planning permission refers to the approval of a planning application. A planning application is submitted in order to gain approval in order to carry out development work or change the use of a building, or piece of land. Planning permission often comes with conditions which must be met in order to keep the development in line with the planning approval granted.

Why is planning permission needed?

Planning permission ensures that development does not occur randomly. The application process ensures that there is an outcome which is suitable for the majority. Planning permission also ensures that developments are coordinated, making sure that they all 'work' with each other and the local area, for example, for traffic management and the provision of services.

Planning control has a positive effect on the environment. It co-ordinates the development of homes and places of work and helps to ensure that they are accessible, built in the right places and in the right way. It must also balance the needs of the applicants with those of the surrounding area.

Who can apply for planning permission?

Anyone can apply for planning permission for any piece of land or building, not just the landowner. If you do not own the land you are required to notify the owners prior to making an application. However, the granting of permission does not authorise you to develop land which is not your own. You may also appoint an agent to submit a Planning Application on your behalf – an architect, planning consultant or surveyor for example.

A planning application must be supported by a certificate stating that the applicant (if not the land owner) has notified the Owner and he/she is aware of the application being made.

Do I need planning permission?

Some types of development are allowed to take place without the need to apply for planning permission. This type of development is known as Permitted Development. Our website explains this further along with the web based “Interactive House” which explains basic rules on permitted development for residential properties. This online tool allows you to explore a virtual house for guidance at

The planning process

Once a planning application has been submitted and validated by the department, it is then included on the weekly publication list and site notices are issued to the local authority for that area and the applicant for displaying at the site. A period of 21 days is then allowed in which the public may comment. For more information on this procedure, see 'Commenting on Planning Applications'.

What is Planning? About the Planning System

During the 21 day period, the planning officer responsible for assessment of the particular development will initiate consultations they may feel necessary to assist them in their consideration of the proposal. Once the 21 period has passed, all comment and correspondence along with any other issues, will by consolidated by the Officer into a written report also including a recommendation, supported by either conditions of approval or reasons for refusal. This report is either considered by the Director, Head of Development Management or a Senior Planning Officer under delegated powers, or at a public meeting of the Planning Committee (in a limited number of cases, the decision will be made by the Council of Ministers after an Inquiry held by a Planning Inspector).

The planning process is not a rubber stamping exercise, it is a process of information gathering, consultation, listening to representations, negotiation, potential amendments leading to the best possible solution.

The planning decision is issued by a notice in hard copy via the post, or electronically where an email address has been provided, and the department aims to issue this within 10 days of the decision being made.

The applicant, the Local Authority, or any person who has been found to have sufficient interest in the application, may appeal against the decision to the Minister for the Department within 21 days of the date of the decision notice. Provided they have the powers to do so, pay the appropriate fee, give reason for the appeal and state which form they wish the appeal to be considered (by a hearing or written representation) the appeal will be validated and passed to the Cabinet Office for processing.

If no appeal request is made the decision becomes final after the 21 day period has expired.

If an appeal request is received all parties will be notified and the application will be copied, in full, to the Cabinet Office. That Office will be responsible for handling the administration of the appeal and on behalf of the Council of Ministers appoint an independent planning inspector to report and make recommendation to the Department. 

The appeal decision will ultimately be determined by the Minister on behalf of the Department.

Want to Know More?

If you are in any doubt over the requirements of planning, or if you need further information, please telephone or visit our office. Our details are:

Planning and Building Control Directorate

Department of Environment

Food and Agriculture

First Floor

Murray House

Mount Havelock


Isle of Man


Telephone:+44 1624 685950

Email:Send Email

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