New Planning App for Home Extensions

3 August 2021

A government-backed app has been launched on a trial basis, paving the way for architects and homeowners to navigate the planning permission system when embarking on a home extension project. The app has been designed in an attempt to speed up and simplify the application process, specifically for projects that fall into the permitted development category.

This app was created by three local councils and has been called RIPA, standing for Reducing Invalid Planning Applications. Lambeth, Southwark, and Buckinghamshire are the first areas to test the new system, with hopes to roll it out nationally by Summer 2022. It is common knowledge that obtaining planning permission can be timely and complicated, with many applications being invalid due to a lack of understanding.

Kaap Studio Architects, 82mm - Malcolm Menzies Photography

Lambeth director of planning Rob Bristow said “The RIPA app will guide users through the rules, based on what they want to do and where about in the borough their property is, to see whether their plans meet the requirements.”

Unlike the current planning permission systems, the app will use simplified language and diagrams to determine whether the project meets both national and local requirements.

Internal view of kitchen leading to glass box extension

If the project passes the initial stages, users can apply for a certificate within the app to demonstrate that their plans qualify as permitted development, thus allowing building works to commence. Due to different councils having different requirements on what constitutes a permitted development project, often delays are encountered because architects are not familiar with the specific councils’ requirements. With the help of the new app, local council requirements can be pre-checked before any applications are made.

Corner opening aluminium sliding doors with timber windows on the first floor - Tigg Coll Architects

Another app is currently in development, to assist council planning officials in managing permitted development applications. BoPS, which stands for Back Office Planning System, will allow users to track progress and putting the required information into a user-friendly format. The development of both apps is the first in the process to make the entire process more digital and data-driven, replacing the document-heavy focus that is now considered outdated.

Glass extension with internal glazing

The hope is for the planning system to become more transparent and less daunting, for both architects and homeowners. Allowing architects and designers to focus on the design and their role, creating a more streamlined and efficient process for all involved. For more information or to talk to us about a project falling under permitted development, contact us

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