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An Introduction to Permitted Development

We look at some of your key questions about Permitted Development (PD) to help you figure out whether or not you need to apply for planning permission to extend or alter your home.

Do I need planning permission to extend my home?

Not necessarily, you may be able to carry out the work under Permitted Development (PD) rights. The concept of Permitted Development was introduced at the very beginning of our planning system – in the Town and Planning Act on 1st July 1948 – and allows for minor improvements, such as converting a loft or modest extensions to your home, to be undertaken without first applying for planning permission. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each benefit from their own version of these rules.

Will my home benefit from PD rights?

Most likely yes, but there are a few things to bear in mind. Unfortunately, the slate is not wiped clean when you buy a home — any space added by past owners since 1948 counts towards your PD allocation. Alternatively, if you’re planning to self-build a replacement dwelling and your proposed new home is bigger than the existing house on site, then your PD rights are likely to be restricted or even removed on condition of granting planning permission.

How does it work?

PD rights apply only to a ‘private dwelling house’ as originally constructed, or as the dwelling stood at a certain point in time, usually 1st July 1948 when the first Town and Country Planning Act came in, but sometimes a later date decided by each local authority. Flats are excluded, as are listed buildings, whilst properties in Designated Areas, such as Conservation Areas, green belt, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and The Broads have restrictions on their PD rights.

PD rights can be applied as often as you like, but the total allowances for extensions can only be used up once and are then exhausted. PD rights can also be withdrawn or modified by a condition within a planning consent, known as an Article 3 Restriction. They can also be withdrawn by means of what is known as an Article 4 Direction issued by the local authority. This can relate to a single dwelling, a street or a whole area and is often, although not necessarily, used in Conservation Areas. An Article 4 Direction currently has to be ratified by the Secretary of State.

If, therefore, you are buying an existing dwelling, it is incumbent upon you to investigate what if any PD rights have been used up or whether or not they have been modified or withdrawn. Even where a house can no longer be extended, it may be possible to erect outbuildings within the residential curtilage. Whilst it is not possible to construct sleeping accommodation as an outbuilding under PD without express planning permission, it is possible to utilise an existing outbuilding for sleeping accommodation so long as any such accommodation is for the use and enjoyment of the home as a single dwelling.

Interestingly, if an outbuilding was constructed for another purpose, such as a gym with perhaps a shower and kitchenette, once it had been established for that use it would become an existing outbuilding and, as such, could be converted to sleeping accommodation under PD.

Although express planning permission is not required for development covered by PD rights, Building Regulations approval may well be necessary in many cases. This is, however, largely objective, so contact your local authority for advice.

Click here to find out what you can, and can't do, under Permitted Development.

Note: The government announced in May 2013 that it will relax permitted development rules relating to extensions for a three year trial period, starting from 30 May 2013 and ending on the 30 May 2016. The new rules mean that for single storey rear extensions the limit will be 8m for a detached house and 6m for a semi or terraced house; in effect a 100% increase in the permitted amount. For more details on the new rules see the Planning Portal announcement.

Article updated 6th November 2013


Do I need planning permission for putting raised beds in my vegetable garden? I have been told that if the sides of the beds are higher than 30cms planning permission is required.

my front garden does not front the road. I would like to build a garage in front of my bungalow. Is this OK within PD.