Inspiration and advice for your building project
Whether you’re simply looking to improve your existing house or carry out major works to one you’re intending to buy, it pays to understand the scope of the available Permitted Development (PD) rights.
They are granted in the form of General Development Planning Orders (GDPOs) which apply separately to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and, in effect, they give implied planning consent to carry out certain classes of development.
In order to carry out work under PD the work must strictly conform to the current criteria, so it does make sense to either check with your local authority before carrying out the works or have a qualified surveyor confirm that they are in order.
An increasing number of local authorities offer a consultancy service for a small fee, and will confirm in writing whether or not a planning application is required. This can be very useful when it comes to reselling the property within the first four years of completion.
Under the 2013 rules, the ‘original’ (as it stood in or prior to 1948) rear wall of a detached home can be extended (subject to the neighbour consultation scheme) by up to 8m in depth with a single storey extension; this is reduced to 6m if you live in a semi or terrace. If your proposed new extension will be within 2m of a boundary, then the eaves height is limited to 3m under PD. Otherwise, a single storey rear extensions must be no higher than 4m.
If you hope to build a two storey extension (no higher than the house), this can project up to 3m from the original rear wall, so long as it is at least 7m from the rear boundary. It’s also important to note that no extension can project beyond or be added to what is deemed to be the front of the house or an elevation which affronts the highway. And a side extension can not make up more than half your house’s width.
Furthermore, with the exception of conservatories, new extensions must be built of materials ‘similar in appearance’ and with the same roof pitch as the main house. So while PD rights are beneficial, there’s a lot to consider before starting work.
In the past volume limitations were applied to the entire house — so if you extended, you were unlikely to be able to convert your loft under PD rights as well. The good news is that the latter has now been separated out, allowing you to undertake both without one restricting the other. So, you can also convert your loft into a bedroom or extra living space by up to 50m³ in a detached house, or by 40m³ within any other home. Flush rooflights or those which do not project further than 150mm are permitted, but you will need permission to add a dormer window on any roof elevation which faces the highway.
However, you cannot cover more than 50% of the land around your house with extensions (including extensions by previous owners), and you have to include any outbuildings when calculating this coverage. Sheds and other outbuildings count in this calculation.
Balconies, verandas and raised platforms (above 300mm) do not fall under PD rights. You will also now need planning permission to construct a drive from non-porous materials such as tarmac. But you can construct a new drive of porous materials, or non-porous if provision for drainage is provided on the property, under PD.
Note: The government recently announced 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 will 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. It is important to remember though that these changes have not yet come in to effect and hence current limits still apply. For more details on the new rules see the Planning Portal announcement.
Article updated May 10th 2013