Did you know that not all home improvement projects require planning permission? While larger, more substantial projects will undoubtedly require permission from the local planning department, smaller projects can be undertaken within your Permitted Development Rights.

Permitted Development: What Does it Mean?

Your Permitted Development Rights give implied planning consent to carry out certain improvements to your home. The scope is varied, but there are limitations, especially if you have already undertaken many home improvements. This useful guide explains your rights in more detail.

If in doubt, always check with your local authority before starting any building work.

Here’s a comprehensive list of the improvements you can make without planning permission.

Skip to:

  1. Internal remodelling
  2. Windows and doors
  3. Garages and attached buildings
  4. Single storey extensions
  5. Rooflights
  6. Loft conversions
  7. Two storey extensions
  8. Conservatories
  9. Sheds and outbuildings
  10. Converting two homes into one
  11. Porches
  12. Gates, walls and fences
  13. Decking
  14. Swimming pools
  15. Adding vehicular access
  16. Cladding and exteriors
  17. Solar panels
  18. Basements
  19. Parking
  20. Change of use to residential (school, church, barn, mill etc. conversions)

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1. Remodelling the Interior

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.

(MORE: An Introductory Guide to Building Regulations)

2. Moving Windows & Doors

You do not normally need planning permission to replace or add new windows in the original walls of your house. However, you may need planning 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.

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).

(MORE: Our Guide to Choosing Windows)

Front view of a remodelled 1960s home with large glass elevation

You don’t normally need planning permission to put in new door or window openings. This 1960s North London semi is almost unrecognisable following its extensive remodel

3. Converting Attached Buildings, e.g. Garages

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.

(MORE: Convert Your Garage to a Living Space)

4. Adding a Single-Storey Extension

You can build various single storey extensions without planning permission, providing the extension accords with the following:

  • 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.

Victorian home with glass extension

A stunning light-filled extension has completely transformed the internal dynamic of this London home

5. Adding Rooflights

Alterations can be made to the roof of a dwelling under PD. However rooflights are not permitted under PD where they 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)

6. Converting a Loft

Loft conversions provide a great opportunity to create additional space 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 but generally up to 40m³ is fine.

(MORE: Loft Conversion Beginner’s Guide)

7. Adding a Two-storey Extension

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.

8. Adding a Conservatory

Conservatories and orangeries fall under the same restrictions as single storey extensions and as they often tend to be fairly modest in size, they can be built without the need for planning. Check the rules about single storey extensions above.

9. Adding a Shed or Outbuilding

Outdoor office building garden pod

Outbuildings are a clever way to add extra space without the need for planning permission

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.

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.

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, but can be used to provide a place to work from home.

(MORE: Creating an Outbuilding or Garden Room)

10. Converting Two Homes into One

It may also be worth considering the benefits of converting two houses, such as a pair of semis 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.

11. Adding a Porch

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:

  • 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
cottage with clad side return extension

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

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:

  • 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. Garden Decking

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.co.uk).

14. Building a Swimming Pool

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.

Hyde and Hyde modern home with swimming pool

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. Creating New Access

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.

16. Changing/Adding Cladding

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, cladding changes may fall under Permitted Development.

(MORE: Guides to Cladding and Render)

17. Adding Solar Panels

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). 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)

18. Adding a Basement

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.

a kitchen diner basement created without planning permission in a London home

A semi-basement was built in to this narrow plot home in London

19. Adding/Creating Parking Spaces

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!

20. Converting an Industrial/Commercial Building

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?

Prior notification came into force in 2013. Under this planning change, 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 or given ‘prior notification’.

As long as there are no objections, or any objections received have no planning merit, then a Certificate of Lawful Development is issued.

The 2013 changes also allowed for the change of use of buildings from office use (B1) to residential (C3).

Prior Notification Extended to 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. In addition, the agricultural building must be capable of functioning as a dwelling house without serious structural changes (although some operations would be permitted).

An agricultural conversion can result in the creation of no more than three residential units, using up to a maximum of 450m3 of internal floorspace.

Find out more about barn conversions and Permitted Development here.

A Last Word on Planning Permission

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.

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Articles like this Comments
  • Nala Reywas

    It’s only 18, as No 9 says Sheds but describes porches, then the next ‘Thing’ is No 12!

  • Samuel Joy

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, the article has been modified.

  • Anonymous

    Will I need planning permission for a single storey extension the full width of my house which is 7m x 2.5m?

  • Anoinous

    Sorry it’s 1.5m not 2.5m. Total 10.5 m2 Thanks

  • Gary Mickelborough

    With reference to point 3, most garages which have been granted planning consent have a condition attached which says that the garage must remain available for the parking of vehicles. This point is therefore incorrect in many cases.

  • Graham Savage

    Do I need planning permission to put a window on the back of my garage?

  • billy611

    Would anyone be able to advise me.

    I have two garages at the side of my house, which are side by side. There is nothing on the top of them.

    The garages are both very narrow, so parking in them would be very tight. There is a single wall in the middle of the two garages. If I take the wall out and put a big/wide garage door/shutter then I would be able to park any car inside. Do I need to get any special permission for the this work, or am i allowed to do it when ever I want.

  • Anonymous


  • Nicole

    The office Pod is so cool!

  • Anonymous

    Will I need planning permission to convert a duplex within a converted victorian house to 2 flats.

  • Anonymous

    hi just wantin 2 know we have lived at our address 4 nearly 8 years now when we bought the house it had a big green house with a wooden hut next 2 it i want 2 build a outbuilding for my children do i need permission 2 build on the same place as hut and greenhouse.

  • Anonymous

    can i remove a window and fit a door in its place where a door used to be it will be double glazed and be installed by a fencer registered company, the door is at the rear of the property opening out to the garden

  • jude110011

    Please can someone tell me whether I have to make extra parking provisions at he front of my house following a garage conversion?I am a single person(-have one car-which I park on the drive) and am not planning on selling.Incidentally, I live in Wales.

  • Anonymous

    Can i hang one side of my conservatory off my neighbours external wall of it’s on the boundary?

  • Stephen B

    I live on a private road with 3 other houses; we are looking to put electric gates at the end of the road which is adjacent to the main cul de sac. I am aware that we will need planning permission if the gates are over 1 metre high – but I have read that the 1 metre measurement can be taken at the gates lowest point, so as avoiding the need for planning permission. Is this true?
    Many thanks.

  • Nathaniel

    Thanks for yet another great article 🙂

    “provided that the total area covered by the pool does not exceed 50%?of the area of the garden curtilage” does this mean if we was to buy an above ground swimming pool that takes up more then 50% of the garden we would need planning permission or would it only be need for an in ground pool?

    A friend of mine has a rather small garden you see, so I thought it best to check about the above ground pool, but I’m sure the answer will be no planning permission is need for this correct?


  • bino

    I would like to extend my house 5m x 1 in the front of my house. I got 5 meter distance to road.
    please reply

  • samuel-joy

    Submitting Questions
    If you would like to ask a question about planning permission, please visit our online Q&A area, where you can submit a question which could then be answered by one of our resident experts as well as other community members.
    For planning permission Q&A click here.
    Sam Joy (Online Editor)

  • tsdhap

    Do I need planning permission to extend between existing kitchen extension and a neighbors extension.basically we have buildings on both sides and we want to build between the two to the same size and length.

  • spaceandstyle

    I Don’t like being picky but image No. 11 of the porch would require planning permission as it is actually more than 3m tall.

    To achieve a porch under 3m high would require a much shallower roof. Just count the bricks it looks like it is around 3.3m tall if the coursing is 75mm a brick. The picture is misleading, as porches that do not need consent usually looked squashed.

  • Jacqueline161

    I am using part of my double garage to repair cars. My garage is in line with the rear elevation of my property and therefore situated in my garden. The garage is used for my two motor bikes, fishing and camping equipment etc and therefore is shared use. I only work 6 hours a day due to child committments and do not work unsociable hours. Most of the work I undertake is servicing MOT’s etc and some break down repairs. Last year rhe council visited my property and stated that the property had a substantial change of use and I had to close down the repair work i was doing or they would servce an enforcement order. To date they have been unable to answer any of the questions I have asked them relating to their opinions. I’ve worked at this address for the last five years without a problem. Can anyone tell me if working from home comes under permitted development as the “Work from Home” element of the Planning Portal states that I can work from hime and use my garage to repair cars if I meet the conditions stated and the house is still mainly a residential property which of course it is.

  • jh7032003

    I have 2 attached garages where I intend to convert on of them into living room. However I have been advised that one of the previous planning conditions was “the garages and cycle parking spaces hereby approved shall be permanently kept available for the parking of cars and cycles”.

    Can anyone advise? I wonder if it is no chance at all for me to get planning approval.

  • barry.easton

    We bought a house that has the garage converted to an office. Access is from a door off of the lounge. We understand this was done about 14 years ago but without any permissions. The walls have been plastered and the floor built up and covered with laminate. There is lighting and heating and double glazed doors at either end. There are no signs of damp or any other defects. Should I apply for retrospective permissions and if so will I need to take the floor up etc., or should I just leave well enough alone?

  • windmillbob

    I have just purchased a property which has a large Summer House comprising, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen & living room. 5 years ago the Council wrote to the Owner stating in a letter, the Summerhouse did not require Planning. As it comprises a bedroom & has all the facilities for a self contained dwelling, is this correct? It was stated that as the Summerhouse is constructed of wood construction & not used for permanent residency, Planning Consent is not applicable as it is a temporary structure. Is this correct.

  • Johnandarchiemac26

    Hi have a terraced 2 bed cottage can I have a single story extension all the way across the back of my cottage without having to apply for planning. The size of the back of my cottage is about 13 ft and extension will come out about 10ft. Thanks

  • carol_wells37

    Can i hang one side of my conservatory off my neighbours external wall as we are attached but theirs is further back than mine so with my Conservatory the two properties will be in line.

  • micekpeter

    I turned my garage in to a recording studio, as a hobby, so I am not making any money of it. suddenly council wrote letter to my landlord that garage have to turn in to the garage again. I never had any complaints about the noise or anything else. What can I do about it?

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