When taking on a home improvement project one of the most important elements to determine is when you need planning permission.
Large, substantial improvements are highly likely to require permission from your local authority, but there are a number of smaller improvements that you can make under what is known as Permitted Development.
What is Permitted Development?
Permitted Development (PD) gives implied planning consent for a number of smaller home improvements (we’ve listed 20 of them below).
There are limitations to these rights (especially if you have already made many improvements to your home, or if you live in a designated area or a listed building).
You should always check with your Local Planning Authority to ensure you do not require planning permission, as in some cases PD rights may have been removed.
20 Home Improvements You Can Make Without Planning Permission
- Internal remodelling
- Windows and doors
- Garages and attached buildings
- Single storey extensions
- Loft conversions
- Two storey extensions
- Sheds and outbuildings
- Converting two homes into one
- Gates, walls and fences
- Swimming pools
- Adding vehicular access
- Cladding and exteriors
- Solar panels
- Change of use to residential (school, church, barn, mill etc. conversions)
1. Can I Remodel the Interior of my Home?
Remodelling the interior is a great way to add more space to your home and can often be done within PD, especially if your proposed work does not require you to extend the overall footprint of the dwelling.
While you won’t need planning permission, you will need Building Regulations approval on structural elements and electrical works.
2. Can I Move/Add Windows & Doors?
In normal circumstances, you can replace or add new windows in the original walls of your house without needing planning approval. However, you may need planning permission if conditions were attached to the original permission.
(MORE: Our Guide to Choosing Windows)
As long as your building isn’t listed, you should be able to install double glazing under PD, but do remember that for new or bigger windows or doors, you will need to follow Building Regulations guidance. Bear in mind that bay windows are classed as extensions.
Planning permission to insert a new window or door opening is not required as long as any upper floor windows on the side elevation are glazed with obscured glass (level 4 or 5 obscurity). They must also be 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).
3. I Want to Convert my Garage – Do I Need Planning Permission?
Converting an attached building, like an integral garage, into living space also falls under PD as you are not increasing the overall footprint of the building.
4. How Big Can a Single-Storey Extension be Without Planning Permission?
As long as you stay within the below parameters, you can build a single-storey extension without needing planning permission:
- The extension does not sit forward of the principal elevation
- Materials should be similar
- Where it is within 2m of any boundary, the eaves cannot be higher than 3m, and no more than 4m in height otherwise
- Rear extensions — no more than 4m in depth (detached house) or 3m in depth (semi-detached or terrace)
- Side extensions — the width of the extension must not be greater than half the width of the original dwelling. Side extensions are not permitted on Article 1(5) Land (e.g. AONB, Conservation Areas)
See the planningportal.gov.uk for a full list of caveats.
A stunning light-filled extension has completely transformed the internal dynamic of this London home
5. Can I Add Rooflights?
Under PD you can make alterations to the roof of a dwelling, like the introduction of rooflights, as long as they do not project more than 15cm from the roof slope.
If the rooflights would extend forward of the roof plane on the elevation fronting a highway then they are not permitted under PD.
It is worth noting that rooflights are not permitted on a dwelling which is located in a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
(MORE: Rooflight Buyer’s Guide)
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6. Can I Convert my Loft Under PD?
Additional space can also be achieved through a loft conversion, without the need for planning consent. While there are limitations on the cubic content allowed under PD, generally, up to 40m³ is fine.
When it comes to additional headroom in the loft space, PD allows for the construction of dormer windows. But, they must not sit higher than the highest part of the existing roof, or extend forward of the roof plane on the principal elevation.
7. Do I Need Planning Permission for a Two Storey Extension?
You can add a two storey extension to your home under PD providing it is at the rear of the dwelling (this includes adding a second storey onto an existing single storey part of the house).
8. Does Adding a Conservatory Require Planning Permission?
Similar to single storey extensions, conservatories and orangeries fall under the same restrictions and can be added under PD. Check the rules about single storey extensions above.
9. Can I Add a Shed or Outbuilding?
There may be opportunity 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.
- Outbuildings cannot sit forward of the principal elevation
- 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
- Outbuildings under PD cannot be used for residential accommodation, e.g. bedrooms or an annexe, but can be used to provide a place to work from home.
10. Can I Convert Two Homes into One?
Converting a pair of semis or two flats, into one property can usually be done under PD and can be a great way of generating extra space without having to move.
Unfortunately, the same rules do not apply if you are dividing a single property into two dwellings. For this you would need to apply for planning permission.
11. Can I Add a Porch Without Planning Permission?
As long as your new porch conforms with the criteria below, you don’t need planning permission.
- No part of the porch can be taller than 3m
- It cannot be within 2m of any boundary adjacent to a highway
- The ground area (measured externally) does not exceed 3m².
Provided they don’t measure more than 3m², porches can be added without needing planning permission. Find out more about this low budget cottage
(MORE: Ten Great Porches)
12. Adding Gates, Walls and Fences within PD
Permitted Development facilitates the erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration to a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure, providing such work stays within the following limitations:
- The height would not exceed 1m when adjacent to a highway
- The height would not exceed 2m for any other gate, fence etc
- Such development is not permitted under PD around a listed building
13. Does New Garden Decking Need Planning Permission?
14. Can I Build a Swimming Pool?
Under your Permitted Development rights you can build a swimming pool within your garden, provided that the total area covered by the pool does not exceed 50% of the area of the garden curtilage.
Swimming pools such as the one in this Californian-style home, designed by Hyde+Hyde Architects, can be built under Permitted Development providing they don’t exceed half the garden
15. Do I Need Planning Permission to Create New Access?
This will depend on the classification of the road you are looking to create access from/to. Creating a new vehicular access onto an unclassified road can be done under PD, but you will need planning permission to create accesses onto classified roads.
Doing Up a Property to Sell?
It might be best to obtain a Certificate of Lawful Development from your local authority, confirming the project falls within PD. An application usually costs around £75.
16. Can I Change/Add Cladding?
Cladding (stone, pebble dash, render, timber, etc.) changes may fall under PD, but is not permitted under PD on any dwelling house located on Article 1(5) land (in special areas, e.g. an AONB).
(MORE: How to Choose the Right Cladding )
17. Adding Solar Panels Under PD
Solar panels can be added 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).
Free-standing panels can also be developed, but are limited in size and proximity to the boundary.
Limitations will apply in Conservation Areas and on listed buildings.
18. Adding a Basement
In a recent appeal decision, it was considered that basements could be PD under Class A of the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO). However, bear in mind that PD does not allow for engineering works.
A semi-basement was built in to this narrow plot home in London
19. Can I Add/Create Parking Spaces Under PD?
Class F of the GPDO refers to the provision of hard surfaces, such as parking areas.
These are 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
- provision is made to direct run-off water from the surface into a permeable/porous area within the property curtilage and not onto the highway
20. Converting Industrial/Commercial Buildings
It is possible to convert an industrial, commercial or agricultural building for residential use, without the need for planning permission. As is often the case, you will require approval for Listed Buildings and in Conservation Areas.
You will also need to follow the Prior Notification procedure if you are converting an agricultural building such as a barn.
What is Prior Notification?
Under Prior notification, single-storey, rear residential extensions can be built up to 8m in depth (6m for a semi or terrace), provided that boundary neighbours are first informed.
As long as there are no objections (at least with planning merit), then a Certificate of Lawful Development is issued.
Prior Notification for Agricultural Buildings
In April 2014, the scope for prior notification was expanded to include Class Q. This allows for the change of use from agricultural buildings to ‘dwelling houses’, subject to certain conditions.
The agricultural building must be capable of functioning as a dwelling house without serious structural changes (although some operations would be permitted).
Further changes in 2018 mean that an agricultural conversion can result in the creation of no more than five residential units, using up to a maximum of 465m3 of internal floorspace.
|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.|