Inspiration and advice for your building project
You can undertake many home improvement projects under Permitted Development rights
Under PD you are able to undertake certain projects without needing planning permission.
If you are looking to find more space within your home, by altering the internal layout to create an open plan aspect or simply to better suit your family’s needs, this option may be for you. If what you propose does not require you to extend the overall footprint of the dwelling, Permitted Development (PD) allows you to carry out the work without obtaining full planning permission. You will, however, need to follow Building Regulations guidance for some aspects such as structural elements and electrical works.
You don’t normally need planning permission to put in new door or window openings — so you can be as imaginative as you want. ABOVE: This 1960s North London semi is almost unrecognisable following its extensive remodel. Click here to find out more.
You do not normally need planning permission to replace or add new windows in the original walls of your house — but you may need permission if conditions were attached to the original permission. Double glazing can be installed under PD, providing the building is not listed. For new or bigger windows or doors, you will need to follow Building Regulations guidance. Do also bear in mind that bay windows are classed as extensions. Planning permission to insert a new window or door opening is not required providing any upper-floor windows in the wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of the dwelling are glazed with obscured glass (level 4 or 5 obscurity) and are fixed into a non-opening frame (unless the opener is more than 1.7m above the floor of the room in which the window is installed).
(MORE: Our Guide to Choosing Windows)
As with internal remodelling, if you wish to alter the internal space within an existing part of the building, such as incorporating an integral garage, you can do so under PD, providing you are not increasing the overall footprint of the dwelling.
ABOVE: A stunning light-filled extension has completely transformed the internal dynamic of this London home. Click here to find out more.
You can build various single storey extensions including conservatories without needing to obtain planning permission, providing the extension accords with the following:
Alterations can be made to the roof of a dwelling under PD, however – you guessed it – there are caveats to follow. Rooflights are not permitted under PD where tnhey would extend forward of the roof plane on the elevation fronting a highway, but they are permitted providing they do not project more than 15cm from the roof slope. Rooflights are not permitted on a dwelling which is located in an Article 4 Direction Area. Two common examples are a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
(MORE: Rooflight Buyer's Guide)
Provided any additional space created through a roof extension (e.g. dormer) is less than 40m3 – and meets other criteria – a loft conversion doesn’t require planning permission. ABOVE: Mark Collins designed and managed the conversion of a huge stone barn to create a show-stopping home. Click here to find out more.
Where internal space is limited and the nature of the dwelling does not allow for the typical side or rear extension, e.g. on a terraced house, going upwards may be the only feasible option. Loft conversions provide a great opportunity to create additional space within your property and may not require planning permission. Permitted Development allows for the construction of dormer windows, which would provide additional headroom within a converted attic. However, they must not sit higher than the highest part of your existing roof, or extend forward of the roof plane on the principal elevation.
There are also limitations on the cubic content allowed under PD – dependant of the type of property – but generally up to 40m3 is fine.
(MORE: Loft Conversion Beginner's Guide)
A two storey extension can be built to the rear of the house under Permitted Development, subject to it being no deeper than 3m from the existing rear wall, and of the same or lower ridge height than the existing house. ABOVE: This eco-remodel transforms not only the kerb appeal of a tired 1950s home, but hugely improves its liveability. Click here to find out more.
A two storey extension can only be built under PD if it is at the rear of the dwelling (this includes the addition of a second storey onto an existing single storey part of the house). In addition, your two storey extension must not exceed 3m in depth or be within 7m of the rear boundary. Specific restrictions also apply to the glazed nature of windows in such extensions.
If you are weighing up the options of working at home, but you don’t have the space to spare, an outbuilding may be the solution for you. This would not only give you the extra space you need, but being separate from the rest of your home may also offer you a peaceful environment to concentrate in away from household distractions. However, if this is something you are considering for employees as well as yourself, there are certain regulations you would need to follow.
Outbuildings are a clever way to add extra space and can be added without the need for planning permission, provided they don’t cover more than 50% of the total curtilage (which doesn’t include the area covered by the main house).
Where you have a larger plot, there may be opportunities to build multiple outbuildings under PD, providing the total area covered by such buildings/enclosures does not exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage. This 50% should take into account any extensions, but not the area covered by the main house.
Again, outbuildings cannot sit forward of the principal elevation, and there are height restrictions depending on the type of roof (4m for dual pitch roofs, 3m for other roofs, and 2.5m when the building is within 2m of the boundary). Outbuildings may only be single storey, with the maximum eaves height remaining at 2.5m. (See planningportal for more details).
A key factor to bear in mind when considering what you want to achieve from an outbuilding is that the use should be ‘incidental’ to that of the dwelling, e.g. gym, garage, store. Outbuildings under PD cannot be used for residential accommodation, e.g. bedrooms.
(MORE: 16 Great Outbuildings)
When you need more space and you are weighing up the options of whether to significantly extend your home or move house, it may also be worth considering the benefits of converting two houses such as a pair of semis into one, or two flats into one property. This can usually be done under PD, and would save you moving out of an area you love. However, if you were considering the option of dividing a property into two dwellings, unfortunately the same rules do not apply and you would need to apply for planning permission.
Provided they don’t measure more than 3m2, porches can be added without needing planning permission. ABOVE: A beautiful oak frame cottage that is perfect for a young family - on a remarkably low budget. Click here to find out more.
Whilst many of the schemes described so far have not allowed for the development of any extensions forward of the principal elevation, you can build a porch on the front of your property without obtaining planning permission, as long as you follow certain rules. They include: no part of the porch is taller than 3m; it is not within 2m of any boundary adjacent to a highway; and the ground area (measured externally) does not exceed 3m².
It’s worth knowing that Permitted Development facilitates the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration to a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure, providing such work accords with the following limitations:
You won’t need planning permission for decking provided it isn’t at a height greater than 300mm. ABOVE: This New Forest self build mixes sharp contemporary design with a natural, organic approach to materials. Click here to find out more.
Whilst a raised platform (a platform with a height greater than 300mm) would require planning permission, garden decking and other such similar structures which are of a height below this limit can be built without planning permission, providing they accord with certain criteria (available at planningportal).
Swimming pools such as this, as part of a self-built home designed by Hyde + Hyde Architects, can be built under PD providing they don’t exceed half the garden. Click here to find out more.
When looking to enhance the enjoyment of your garden, what better way than to build a swimming pool for the whole family to enjoy? Under Permitted Development rights you can build a pool within your garden, provided that the total area covered by the pool does not exceed 50% of the area of the garden curtilage.
Planning permission is not required when creating a new vehicular access onto an unclassified road. However, permission is needed for accesses onto classified roads. For a new access onto a classified road, you will need to ensure sufficient visibility when leaving the site, as well as enough turning space to allow you to enter and exit in a forward gear.
Cladding (stone, pebble dash, render, timber, etc.) is not permitted under PD on any dwelling house located on Article 1(5) land (in special areas, e.g. an AONB). Yet, on other buildings not affected by an Article 1(5) land (i.e. those not in any specially designated areas), cladding changes may fall under Permitted Development.
(MORE: Guides to Cladding)
With people now becoming more aware of ‘green’ issues, solar panels are increasingly common on homes, offering the homeowner free electricity or heat and the potential for added income under the Feed-in Tariff scheme. Solar panels can also be developed under PD, providing they do not protrude more than 200mm beyond the plane of the wall or roof, and that the highest part of the panel is not higher than the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney). As you would expect, limitations apply in Conservation Areas and on listed buildings. Free-standing panels can also be developed, but are limited in size and proximity to the boundary.
(MORE: Our Guide to Buying Solar Panels)
Provided your basement conversion doesn’t require engineering works, a recent appeal decision ruled that it could be carried out under Permitted Development. ABOVE: A semi-basement was built in to this narrow plot home in London. Click here to find out more.
If your property does not provide you with sufficient opportunities to develop extensions to your home above ground, have you ever considered building a basement? This would provide you with extra internal space, without reducing the size of your garden. In a recent appeal decision, it was considered that basements could be PD under Class A of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). However, PD does not allow for engineering works.
Class F of the GPDO refers to the provision of hard surfaces, such as parking areas. These are also permitted under PD providing that any hard surface situated between the principal elevation of a dwelling and the highway, or any surface which would exceed 5m², is made of porous materials, or provision is made to direct run-off water from the surface into a permeable/porous area within the property curtilage… not onto the highway!
You need planning permission to incorporate agricultural land into your garden. In some cases this is possible, but it depends on the site and the local area. However, you are perfectly entitled to use agricultural land for growing vegetables or planting trees. The key is that the land should not become domesticated and that a barrier, e.g. a fence, should remain between it and the garden.
A Last Word
Whilst this article provides a summary of what you may be able to do under Permitted Development, you should always check with the Local Planning Authority to ensure you do not require planning permission, as in some cases PD rights may have been removed. If you’re thinking of selling the property in the future, then it might be best to obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development, confirming the project falls within PD. They are obtainable from your local authority. An application usually costs £75. For more information on PD visit planningportal.gov.uk
It must be noted also that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each benefit from their own version of these rules, so it is always best to check with the relevant planning authority.