CAD Divider

A guide to the planning process for larger residential developments

Sep 6, 2022

By Mark Dawes, Managing Director, CAD Architects

CAD Architects have unrivalled experience in carrying out large scale residential developments, from new house build schemes to conversions of existing buildings. Our commercial awareness and proactive approach make us the ideal residential development architect for commercial developers who are seeking to maximise the return from their property.

CAD Architects have carried out large scale residential developments in South West England at sites such as Treloggan in Newquay, Kennel View at Ponsanooth, Parklands in Truro, Cribbar Apartments in Newquay, Dudman Farm in Truro, and Nare Head at Mevagissey. Over the years we have gained a highly successful track record in gaining planning approval for residential developments.

Here are some of the key factors that need to be considered when pursuing planning approval for residential developments.

  1. Engage with the local planning authority early

Before drawing up formal plans, it is a good idea to open an informal dialogue with your local authority, so that you can discuss your initial idea and sound them out on any specific issues or obstacles that would need to be addressed. At CAD Architects, we have built very good relationships with the local planning authority and we have seen many times how this kind of early dialogue can be invaluable in ensuring that you plans meet the needs of the local authority.

  1. Land purchase

When you have selected a plot of land that you wish to build on, it is worth being aware that you do not need to own the land in order to submit a planning application, but you will need to serve notice on the owner as part of the planning process. It is possible to make your land purchase conditional on planning approval being given. It may be the case that the land in question already has outline planning approval. In this instance, the plans will need to be developed in much more detail in order to progress to full approval.

  1. Demonstrate how your residential development fits in with national, local, and neighbourhood plans

The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out key elements of policy to both provide strategic guidance and highlight the scope for local interpretation. Each local authority will have its own Local Plan which sets out their specific objectives and requirements. This will include their needs and targets for elements such as Affordable Housing. Some areas may also have Neighbourhood Development Plans (NDP) to consider. In developing your planning proposals in it vital to be able to demonstrate how your residential development addresses both national and local objectives. There are a multitude of factors that Planning will consider in assessing your application. It is vital to be able to understand the ones that will be critical to your success.

  1. Invest in good quality design and presentation

The designs that you present to planning authorities need to bring to life your overall vision for the residential development and help to communicate how it meets with local planning goals. This is where you should spend quality time with your commercial architect going over the fine details of your designs to ensure you make the very best ‘pitch’ to Planning. There are lots of useful tools available that can help you get your message across, such as 3D renders and video. These can dramatize the quality of your residential development and give a sense of how it would feel to live there. They can also illustrate how your residential development will blend with the local surroundings and environment – for example, by using local materials and vernacular design styles.

  1. Seek full involvement from the local community

At CAD Architects, we are highly experienced at gaining feedback from local stakeholders, including residents, Parish Councils, Town Councils and City Councils. For a major residential development, the applicant will need to prepare a “Statement of Community Involvement” setting out in detail how you plan to consult with the local community. We can advise you on how to prepare these. There are many methods that can be used to help communicate your plans to local stakeholders, including face to face presentations, online communications and feedback forums and site visits. Taking a proactive and open approach to local consultation can help to avoid any negative misconceptions and generate a positive momentum behind your project.

  1. Use the skills of your commercial architect

Build a close, collaborative relationship with your commercial architect. It is their job to understand your objectives and the goals of the local planning authority and find the best possible match between these. At CAD Architects, we are aware that certain locations, such as conservation areas, can be especially challenging for residential developments. We have the commercial expertise to steer a successful path through these challenges. There are bound to be issues and obstacles that arise during the planning process. We have a track record of coming up with creative and commercially practical solutions that satisfy the client and Planning. We also have a strong network of expert advisers and consultants who can be called upon for input on highly technical issues.

For a complete overview of the planning process, including a stage by stage guide to applications, the best online resource is the Government Planning Portal at:

To see examples of CAD Architects work on residential developments, take a look at our Projects pages at:

For a no-obligation discussion about your project, please get in touch with our expert team and let them explain how CAD Architects can help maximise the return from your next residential development.

To find out more and take the first steps towards a successful application, email