1 Get pre-planning advice
Although this stage is not legally binding, some councils will refuse to discuss your project unless you have taken and paid for pre-app advice! If the costs are not excessive, then it's worth making use of the service as it will help you decide on the key requirements that your council stipulate must be adhered to.
2 - Get the locals on your side
Some councils will notify your neighbours and the Parish Council almost immediately so it's helpful if you have given them some form of advanced notification. If they have not been forewarned, they may take a very negative stance towards your plans. Any objections will make the whole process difficult for you so your aim is to be as transparent as possible. Get in early and muster support.
3 - Take your time at the beginning
It's really worth taking the time to peg out your planned house on the plot and imagine walking around the ground floor. Spend lots of time researching "building" magazines and go through the small details carefully. What are you missing? Do the rooms flow? Is there plenty of storage? It's so easy to get carried away in the excitement and VERY costly to rectify mistakes once the builders start.
4 - Who actually owns the land or access to the land
Each planning application form will ask you to confirm if you own the land in its entirety - check the red line on your plot. If your access is on to a private road you have to confirm that you have formally notified the other parties. Again, spend time here making sure you have followed the correct procedures.
5 - Provide the correct drawings
Make sure you also include a site location plan with your application. This should show the building plot, including the drive or private road to a public highway edged in red - see above. Other land adjoining your property will be edged in blue.
6 CIL forms
Some councils now charge a Community Infrastructure Levy but self builders are exempt. If you are self building make sure you indicate this on your form.
6 - Take advice
Planning is a fickle business and you may rejected several times which can be very costly and stressful. If your application looks like it will be denied, loot through the officers report. Can you address some of the issues and go back with a revised scheme. Hiring a good planning consultant can save you quite a bit of aggravation especially if your new home is in a conservation area.
7 - Be patient
It can take years going back and forth with the planning authority before you finally come to a happy compromise. Be patient and hang on in there as it's really is the only way to build your dream home.