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23 Things You Can Do Without Planning Permission

do i need planning permission? This extension project pushed permitted development rights to their limits
(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

'Do I need planning permission?' is a loaded question when it comes to your home renovation project. In some cases, planning permission for a project is a necessity, and can't be avoided — yet in some instances, you can make changes to your home up to a certain level without requiring planning. 

These alterations can be made under something called Permitted Development (PD), which is an implied, automatic consent for projects that fall within the parameters of these regulations. 

So why might it be beneficial to avoid the planning process? The cost of applying for planning permission is largely negligible, and nearly 90% of planning permission applications are granted in the UK, however, opting for Permitted Development over planning permission gives you back the gift of time. 

Largely, planning applications take a minimum of eight weeks to be reviewed, and this can be up to 13 for more complex builds — a big hold up in your quest for home improvement. 

With this in mind, we take a look at 23 projects which could be completed under Permitted Development rules to inspire your home renovations. 

do I need planning permission? this project pushed permitted development rights to their limits

Rise Design Studio's remodelling of this London home was shaped by the limits of Permitted Development, changing and re-shaping the volumes of the extensions to fall within these rules.  (Image credit: Edmund Sumner for Rise Design Studio)

How Do I Know if I Need Planning Permission?

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If you're asking 'do I need planning permission?', it's always worth checking with your local authority first before you take on any project, as there are certain times when permitted development won't apply. 

If you live in a designated area or a listed building, for example, or you’ve already altered your home considerably, then PD might not comply. 

Larger build projects, such as knocking down and rebuilding or adding a big extension are examples of projects that will generally need permission from your local authority. 

1. Do I Need Planning Permission to Knock Down Internal Walls?

knocking down internal walls opened up this former council house

Remodelling internally, say by knocking down walls or reconfiguring spaces, should not usually require any planning permission. The interior of this council house in Southwark was remodelled by Vatraa Architects by removing interior walls to help the flow of the space.  (Image credit: Jim Stephenson for Vatraa)
Did you know...

That any space added by past owners since 1948 counts towards your Permitted Development allocation.

Remodelling the interior, for example by knocking down internal walls, 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. Do I Need Planning Permission to Add a Window? 

sash windows

Unless you live in a listed building or in a designated area, it is unlikely you will need planning permission to change or add windows.  (Image credit: Lomax + Wood)

Planning permission is not usually required to replace, add or move windows and doors in the original walls of your house. 

However, you may need planning permission if conditions were attached to the original permission. Check with your local authority if you are unsure if there are any conditions attached or what they are.

(MORE: Window Styles)

Providing 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 too 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. Do I Need Planning Permission to Convert a Garage?

a garage conversion may be allowed under permitted development

Attached buildings, such garages, can normally be converted without planning permission.  (Image credit: Taylor & Co)

According to Resi, only 10% of garage conversions require planning permission. Converting an attached building, like an integral garage, into living space will fall under PD as you are not increasing the overall footprint of the building. 

However, converting a standalone garage is more likely to require planning permission and will involve applying for a change of use under Building Regulations.

If your garage was built after the house, check with your local authority that your property's PD rights haven't already been used.

(MORE: Garage Conversion Guide)

4. Do I Need Planning Permission for an Extension? 

Side return small house extension

Side return extensions may be permissible under PD if the right requirements are met.  (Image credit: David Barbour)

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.

Editor's Note: Homebuilding.co.uk partners with the UK's best extension specialists to match your requirements with their services. Simply answer a few questions on what you need from your extension and we’ll put you in touch with a suitable partner.

5. Do I Need Planning Permission for a Rooflight?

a loft bathroom with rooflight

Rooflights can usually be added under Permitted Development providing they do not protrude from the roofline.  (Image credit: Ca'Pietra)

Providing your new rooflights won't project more than 15cm from the roof slope, you can add them under PD.  

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.

6. Do I Need Planning Permission for a Loft Conversion?

a loft bedroom added to a family home

You can carry out most loft conversions under PD rights, however there are certain limitations on size and projection from the existing roof.  (Image credit: Juliet Murphy)

loft conversion is a great way to extra space and value to your home 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.

(MORE: Need a quote for your loft conversion?)

7. Do I Need Planning Permission for a Two Storey Extension?

a two storey extension which mirrors the existing property

The form of this two storey rear extension by Oliver Leech Architects was governed by some tough planning restrictions. (Image credit: Will Scott for Oliver Leech Architects)

It is quite feasible to add a two storey extension to your home under PD, so long as it is at the rear of the dwelling (this includes adding a second storey onto an existing single storey part of the house).

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. Do I Need Planning Permission for a New Conservatory? 

interior of a large conservatory

Providing they are of a certain size and height, many conservatories can be added without the need for planning approval. This design is from Mozolowski & Murray (Image credit: Mozolowski & Murray)

Similar to single storey extensions, conservatories and orangeries fall under the same restrictions and can be added under PD.

9. If I Construct a Shed, Garden Office or Outbuilding, Do I Need Planning Permission?

a garden office built under permitted development

Garden rooms cannot be used for accommodation under PD. This garden room, designed and built by All in One Design and Build Studio, offers office space for its owners and was built under PD.  (Image credit: All in One Design and Build)

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.

(MORE: Planning Permission for Sheds)

10. I Plan on Converting Two Homes into One – Do I Need Planning Permission?

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. I Want a New Porch, Do I Need Planning Permission?

do I need planning permission

Provided they don’t measure more than 3m², porches such as this, from Border Oak, can be added without needing planning permission. (Image credit: Border Oak)

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.

(MORE: Porch Ideas)

12. Do I Need Planning Permission to Add a Fence or Wall?

a painted garden fence

In general, fences are required to be under 2m to qualify for PD.  (Image credit: Cuprinol)

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

(MORE: How to Fit a Garden Fence)

13. Do I Need Planning Permission for New Garden Decking?

do i need planning permission

There are many upgrades you can make to your landscaping that will require no planning permission. This enviable deck is kitted out with furniture from Lime Lace (Image credit: Lime Lace)

As long as the height falls below 300mm, garden decking and other similar structures can be built without planning permission, as long as certain criteria are met (available at planningportal.co.uk).

14. I am Landscaping My Garden — Should I Apply for Planning Permission? 

do I need planning permission to landscape my garden

Soft landscaping won't need planning permission (Image credit: The London Tile Co.)

Soft landscaping, such as re-turfing your lawn, adding paving and generally cultivating your garden will not  require planning permission. 

However when it comes to fencing, walls and decking there are limitations. Some trees are protected under Tree Preservation Orders, so it's worth checking with the local council before felling or pruning trees.

15. Do I Need Planning Permission to Build a Swimming Pool?

do I need planning permission

On the provision that they do not exceed half of the garden, swimming pools such as this one, with a pool house and pool surround by Redwood Stone, can be built under Permitted Development.  (Image credit: Redwood Stone)

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.

16. Do I Need Planning Permission to Create a New Driveway?

do I need planning permission

There are several conditions when it comes to creating new access — check with your local authority before work begins. The smart doors used on these new garages are from Urban Front (Image credit: Urban Front)
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.

(MOREHow to Renovate for Profit)

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.

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.

17. Do I Need Planning Permission to Change Cladding?

New England-style remodel of a tired bungalow

Homeowners Paul and Gemma have undertaken a recladding scheme as part of the remodel of their home. This can normally be done without needing planning permission (Image credit: Nigel Rigden)

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 (this includes special areas, like an AONB, National Park, World Heritage site or Conservation Area).

(MORE: How to Choose the Right Cladding)

18. Do I Need Planning Permission to Add Extra Insulation?

internall wall insulation boards during installation

(Image credit: Kingspan)
Flats or maisonettes

PD Rights do not apply to flats or maisonettes due to the impact that any alterations could have on neighbouring properties.

If there's no change to the external appearance of your home then planning is not generally needed to install insulation. Homes in conservation areas or that are listed buildings should contact their local authority before adding insulation.

(MORE: Internal wall insulation)

19. Is Planning Permission Required to Replace my Roof?

If you want or need to replace the roof on your house then this project usually falls under Permitted Development, with a few conditions, including no alteration projecting more than 150mm from the existing roof plane.

Again, it's worth checking with the local authority in your area before proceeding to check if there are any limits, especially if you live in a designated area, for example. 

20. I Want to Add Solar Panels – Do I Need Planning Permission?

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.

21. Do I Need Planning Permission to Add a Basement?

Small basement extension idea

A basement is an area that PD now applies to, but only under certain circumstances.  (Image credit: French + Tye c/o Paper House Project)

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.

22. If I Create Parking Spaces, Will I Need Planning Permission?

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.

23. I am Converting Industrial/Commercial Buildings — Do I Need Planning Permission?

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.

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.