I have a loft conversion done in 1989, a front porch was added in 1995 and a kitchen extension in 2006, all by previous owner. In 2007 I added a conservatory – with planning permission. I would now like to change the velux skylights in my loft conversion to a dormer window.It would be at the rear of the property. Is this permitted under the revised permitted development rules (I understand a loft counts separately and up to 50 cubic metres allowed for a semi), or do I need to get permission from my LA? I did try to get an answer from planning, but was told it may be permitted or I could apply for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate. I have looked at the application for a LDC and it is gobbledegook to me. There must surely be a straightforward answer. Help please? Gina

  • Lindsey Davis

    Rear dormers are usually fine under PD. Check the material is similar and you aren’t in a conservation area though.

    The Lawful Development Certificate is basically what you have to fill in to show that you have acknowledged planning law and that you are doing it under your Permitted Development Rights. It’s far less tedious than the full planning process!


  • Adam


    You are not alone in your quandary. There are lots of people who are unable to get a straight answer as to whether they require planning or not for their intended works. The planning system is such a behemoth that even those administering it are occasionally unsure of the exact ins and outs!

    You mention that you have already had numerous previous works albeit it by the previous owner of the home. You should take note though that by who and when the home has been added to is irrelevant in the eyes of the planning department. They consider your house as it stood in 1948. Therefore all additions since are considered when they receive any new applications.

    It really depends on what size of dormer you propose. It is in your favour that it is at the back of the house but you need to consider the cubic metre gains against permitted development rights in relation to the additions your property has seen over the years. Perhaps a small dormer would get by with a certificate of lawfulness whereas a large one would take you into full planning territory.

    If I were you I would begin by making an application for lawfulness of your proposal. It is basically "planning-lite". If the planners say yes you can go ahead as you wish and nobody can come along at a later date and challenge the work. If they say no they will have to give you a reason for such and you can move forward from there.

    I know a lot of people who have undertaken work which falls under permitted development that have applied for a certificate of lawfulness. Not only is it peace of mind that the council is hunky dory with your additions it is also a very beneficial document to have should you ever wish to sell the property. More and more solicitors and buyers are pushing for this piece of paper to ensure compliance with the rules. I have experience of people claiming work fell under PD rights only for it to be later challenged by the planners once they had sold up and moved on. The new owners were responsible for rectifying the work to comply.

    Whatever you do stick with it no matter how frustrating it may seem. The effort is usually worth it!

    Good luck

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