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 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 Permitted Development 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 planning permission is required. This can be very useful when it comes to reselling the property within the first four years of completion.

Will my home benefit from Permitted Development rights?

Most likely yes, but there are a few things to bear in mind. Unfortunately, the slate is not wiped clean when you buy a home — any space added by past owners since 1948 counts towards your Permitted Development allocation.

Alternatively, if you’re planning to self build a replacement dwelling and your proposed new home is bigger than the existing house on site, then your Permitted Development rights are likely to be restricted or even removed on condition of granting planning permission.

My home benefits from Permitted Development rights, how far can I extend?

Under the 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 Permitted Development. 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 Permitted Development rights are beneficial, there’s a lot to consider before starting work.

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Is there anything else I can do under my Permitted Development rights?

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 Permitted Development 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.

Improvements: What you can do

  • Build a porch
  • Carry out internal alterations
  • Convert and occupy the loft space
  • Install microgeneration equipment such as solar panels (apart from wind turbines)
  • Install satellite dishes
  • Erect antenna
  • Put in rooflights or dormer windows
  • Put in new doors or windows
  • Extend the back of your home
  • All subject to design constraints; e.g. porch has to be less than 3m³, rooflights and dormers must not face the highway, etc

(MORE: See 20 home improvements you can make without needing planning permission)

Extensions: What You Can Do

  • You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double
  • Semi-detached and terraced homes can be extended up to 6m to the rear of the property if single storey
  • There are height restrictions but they boil down to a single storey extension not being higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property
  • Two storey extensions must not be closer than 7m to the rear boundary
  • It must be built in the same or similar material to the existing dwelling
  • Extensions must not go forward of the building line of the original dwelling
  • Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building
  • In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey
  • An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered
  • You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built. In Northern Ireland it is as it was built or as it was on 1st October 1973

Outbuildings: What you can do

  • You can construct all sorts of outbuildings for the use and enjoyment of the home so long as they do not cover more than 50% of the garden space. In Scotland this is reduced to 30%
  • In Wales and Northern Ireland any outbuildings closer to the house than 5m count as extensions. In Scotland any outbuildings larger than 4m² and closer to the dwelling than 5m count as extensions
  • Outbuildings must be single storey with a maximum ridge height of 4m for a pitched roof or 3m for any other kind of roof. The eaves height must be no more than 2.5 metres
  • If the outbuilding is closer to the boundary than 2m it shall be no higher than 2.5m
  • No outbuilding can be forward of the original dwelling. In Wales and Northern Ireland the same applies unless the resulting building would be more than 20m from the road

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Conversion of Non-Domestic Buildings into Homes

Under Permitted Development, existing buildings – such as offices, barns and other agricultural buildings – can be converted into homes.

Agricultural Buildings and Barn Conversions

In March 2013 a new system was introduced to allow the conversion of barns into dwellings. Permission would still be required via the prior approvals process, but it created potential for more conversion opportunities than before. Read more here.

Former Office Buildings

In an attempt to release inner-city land for housing, the next change in Permitted Development was an announcement in May 2013 to allow offices to be converted to residential. This was set to expire in 2016, but in October 2015 it was declared that these rights would be made permanent.

Did you know…?

Balconies, verandas and raised platforms (above 300mm) do not fall under Permitted Development 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 Permitted Development.

For more details on the rules see the Planning Portal.

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  • Anonymous

    We are in the process of building a conservatory under PD. We had built some foundations as part of some other building work and then the conservatory supplier indicated that they thought we may need planning permission. We contacted the planning office who were not sure (unbelievably) but told us we had better apply just in case. The dimensions of the new build fit well within the PD guidelines so we were pretty sure it would be ok. Now the next door neighbour has objected on grounds of light,( as one of the walls is very close to the boundary fence) and the planning has been rejected! We could appeal or compromise our build and resubmit, but I would really like to understand if we can get a conservatory added to our house via permitted development or not. If yes, what would be dimensions/build need to be, as it is very ambiguous on the PD and planning portals site.
    Anyone got any advice?

  • Anonymous

    “The dimensions of the new build fit well within the PD guidelines so…”

    If that’s the case, then you should have been advised by the council to submit an application for a “Lawful Development Certificate” (LDC), not a planning application. The former is determined on the ‘lawfulness’ of the proposal considered against the provisions of Statutory Instrument 2008 No 2362 (Google that phrase); the later is determined on planning merits. The two are wholly different.

    You do not need the LDC for your conservatory to be lawful. The value of an LDC is that it proves ‘lawfulness’ rather than confering it(Handy when you want to sell the house; peace of mind in the meantime). Permitted development IS planning permission, granted by Parliament.

    What you came up against with the planners is common. Your experience is driven less by true ‘misunderstanding’ of the new PD rules by councils than the system itself being driven by neighbour complaints and the desire of planners to generate fee income and exercise discretionary control of the details of development. Its not the individual planning officer’s fault!

  • woolford

    We are considering building a movable timber frame building which I am told complies with caravan laws.
    Would this be OK as it includes sleeping accommodation.

  • Anonymous

    If you are building a new detached house, how quickly after the completion certificate has been issued could you add your permitted development?

  • MikeB

    I live in a Close which overlooks the rear of a row of semi-detached houses where the rear boundaries have always been defined by fences. One of the owners of the semi detached houses made a planning application for the erection of a garage at the rear of her property.This application was refused by the Council on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the amenity value of our Close and that it was not within the height limitations. The applcant changed the plans to reduce the height and the Council then treated it as a permitted development. The question is this – does the detrimental affect on our amenity value still apply even though the development is now permitted ? The amenity problem (view/vehicle movements in a small Close etc) does not disappear because a development is permitted. Does the amenity value issue supercede the permitted development ?

  • Miguel

    Hi all,

    I am confused on whether I have to apply for a planning permission or not. I need to remove the roof of my kitchen which is currently of asbestos, and put some wale slates. The rest of the house is on wale slates. The job will not involve any structural changes. It is basically, removing the asbestos and putting the slates. Will this fall into the permitted development category?
    Thanks for all the help


  • Anonymous

    I live in a council house and want to put a
    Conservatory on the back 5m
    Across and 3m out do I need planing permission
    Or can I just go ahead and build. It’s going
    To be dwarf brick wall then pvc frame and glass
    With flat roof ?????

  • redditch estate agents

    I would not risk any building projects if I lived in a council house! But I wouldnt want to spend money on something I didnt own anyway!

  • Anonymous

    My neighbour is planning a single storey side extension to their property under permitted development. They are abiding by all the rules however I wish to object because it will encroach towards my property whereas now there is a large gap between the two properties ie 12 feet and also the extension I feel would take away natural light from my side reception window. Also the velux windows will shine light into my upstairs bedroom window. Because it is all within PD rules how can I object, what are the best routes to go or is it tough and I have no rights to object and just have to put up with it?

  • phil brook

    Is there any regulation which prevents you increasing the size of a property by more than double. We are having trouble with LA as they are stating that the extension should be subservient to the main house. This would not however achieve what we want. We do have outline planning for a new property which is approximately 3500 feet square and the sketch plan for the extension is much less.

  • Samuel Joy

    Hi Phil,

    I would of thought that an extension of that size is unlikely to gain planning permission, however as the rules on Permitted Development have changed within the last few years it’s probably best to have a look at the planning portal website.

    Their guide to extensions is here http://www.planningportal.gov.uk/permission/commonprojects/extensions/miniguide

    Kind regards and all the best,
    Samuel Joy (Online Editor)

  • Anonymous

    Hello Samuel,

    I have observed that some people construct only the foundations of a building and leave them for years before they complete the building.
    I have subsequently heared that such building are given automatic planning consent after a specific number of years.

    Is this true ?

    Kind regards

  • Jason Orme


    Not true I’m afraid. Planning permissions have a time period before they lapse of either three or five years. A plotowner who hasn’t yet built will usually complete the foundations in order to have officially ‘commenced’ before the time period lapses. The building itself can then take as long as it needs to finish, with the planning permission having deemed to be satisfied.

    There is no such thing as automatic planning consent I’m afraid!

  • Curious

    I hav just purchased a three story maisonette in a victorian terrace with a flat roof terrace leading off the back on the hous. I want to add a conservatory with two full side walls and a glass roof and front over the area of the roof terrace (approx 6 sqm) but cant work out whether this wil fall within permitted development right. The roof terrace is the roof of the lower flat (not my property) and so I would in effect be building on their roof. I cant work out whether this needs planning consent or not and would be grateful for any ideas or thoughts!
    Thanks very much, Emilia

  • Mcflozza


    I had planning permission rejected for a side extension along with a loft conversion. I scaled down the extension and removed the loft conversion, resubmitted and have now received approval. There is no restriction within the approval in respect of future PD rights or loft conversion. I want to undertake the roof conversion under PD at the same time as the side extension but would appreciate some advice as to the legality of this being done concurrently, or indeed at all. Should I undertake the work and then seek a lawful development certificate, or do so beforehand?

    Best wishes and thanks in anticipation.

  • nancy shillito

    My neighbour ( who owns her property ) has a single ground floor extension on the rear of her property .
    We live in a small terrace of 3 and she is mid terrace and I am end of terrace .
    This window looks directly into my garden and my kitchen .
    I do not have any privacy at all and it feels so uncomfortable that I dont really put my garden to use .
    I have tried to move by mutual exchange but all people have declined because of this issue .
    I bought a pergola ( to cover with plants and for privacy ) and popped round to ask her if she objected to me putting it up , She does saying it will block her view !
    Is this window allowed to be clear glass as it does intrude on my privacy ?
    Can she be requested to make it opaque ?
    Can she object to me erecting my pergola as some kind of privacy screen ?

    Thanking all in advance for any advice given .

  • Samuel Joy

    Hi Nancy,

    I have reposted your question in the discussion forum as I believe you are more likely to receive a response there. The link to your question is http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/forum/planning-permission-and-legal-issues/privacy-issues-neighbours-window

    Also, I thought this previous Q&A may be of some use http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/community/ask-the-expert/right-to-light

    Kind regards,
    Sam Joy (Online Editor)

  • Sam Harris


    We’re looking to build a side return extension and a rear extension on the back of the outrigger to make a large L shaped open plan kitchen. The dimensions fall within PD, but I’m confused by the ‘similar materials’ clause. I was hoping to put a glass roof on the side return would this be permitted or would I need planning? It is a victorian terrace – brick and slate.


  • mark

    I wonder how this will effect the new homes market.

  • r.simonytexx

    If i buy a pieace of land with a permission to build, what other documentation should i have? Building drawing and what else?

  • mcwc

    Am I permitted without planning permission to build a second outer wall to the side of our three bedded terrace home about 6 ft depth to create a hallway going along the side of our home. We would want to create a space for a door on existing wall as entrance to hallway. Presume a door would be required as exit and a window.

  • phaywain

    Hi When a detached bungalow is divided into 2 Simi detached bungalow down the middle under a planning application but is never registered within the title who determines the curtilage? of the property?

  • zandraslucky

    I have a house on a 3 acre rural site – all of which is in domestic curtilage. After a battle with planners for a small single storey extension, we now have no remaining permitted development rights for the house or any outbuildings. We would like to erect a small summer house in the garden – normally allowed within permitted development. If we erect this on a type one sub base as a temporary building, is this acceptable under current planning laws ? We have been advised by a small building company that this complies and that the planners cannot object – even though they have removed our PDRs.

  • jackiebigwood


    We live in an AONB area, have just got PD certificate for rear single story extension(not yet built). If we wanted to put a basement under this, we know we would have to go in for full permission, but would we lose the PD right for the rear extension?

  • mrandmrs_k

    I am new to this site, I have a question about a P D height, I know that it can’t be more than 3m to the eaves and 4m to the ridge but am trying to find where this is measured from. Is it the highest ground level from the existing house or the ground level at the new extension?
    In the rules it states “the ground level is the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building”
    Any help would be appreciated Thanks

  • Isabella Bardswell

    Does anyone know whether the recent changes impact PD rules in conservation zones?

  • carrieann redfern

    Hi I have been looking at permitted development and believe that what we wish to do falls under this. Our house has a lean to at the back which is of poor quality. We want to remove this and turn it into a proper brick extension so that we can actually use the room. It’s only small and everything falls under permitted development from what myself and the builders can see. So what do we do next do we legally have to apply for anything, do we have to apply for the certificate, do we legally have to involve building control or can we just get on and build. I’m going round and round and getting rather confused

  • Lindsey profile picture
    Lindsey Davis

    Hi Carrieann,

    You will need to involve Building Control as you are making structural changes, so notify them of the works and they will assign an inspector to check up throughout the process. There will be a fee for this.

    It is also a good idea to apply for a certificate of lawful development as this will a) ensure that what you are doing is under PD, and b) be proof to future buyers that your work was within the law.


  • Richard Gurney

    Concurrent or Sequential use of Two or more permitted developments ?

    Would it be considered legal to use the PD of side extension of a property upto ½ of original building width and 4m height limit in conjunction with the 50m3 increase in the original property volume to allow change to the roof height to then allow building upto the original building ridge height of about 5m

    Would this have to be sequential with the 4m width first or could the 2 be built together

  • […] permitted development you can make improvements (such as small extensions or loft conversions) to your home without […]

  • Antony Atkins

    What about adding a basement under PD rights? I cannot see why adding a basement with the same or less than the original footprint of the house would not be OK, provided there were acceptable lighting and fire escape options, that any lightwells do not impinge on a neighbour, and building regulations generally were followed. But perhaps the planning rules would be different if the intention was to create a separate residential unit – perhaps as a lettable unit – rather than simply add extra space?

    The building regs would be different too, because if the basement included its own cooking facilities, ring main, sewerage etc, then there would need to be significant fire- and sound-proofing to separate the two residential units, just as with a block of flats.

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