Do I need planning permission?

If you are considering carrying out work on your property, your office or another building that you own the first question to resolve is whether planning permission is needed. If work is done without permission then the ultimate sanction of the local planning authority would be to force you to demolish the building, at your own expense.

There are however certain types of work for which planning permission is not needed. This guide offers a brief introduction to these, to help you decide whether or not you need to apply for planning permission. If in doubt however, it is always best to seek advice relating to your specific intention.

In general any exterior development work will require planning permission. Unless your building is a listed building or in a conservation area, it will rarely be necessary to get planning permission for interior works. There are also a number of minor works to the outside of a building for which planning permission is not needed. These are deemed as 'permitted development rights.' In October 2008, the category of 'permitted development rights' was clarified and extended to cover more building projects. Further detail on the planning process can be found at www.planningportal.gov.uk.

Permitted development rights may be removed for specific properties by local authorities. If previous works have been done to the property it is important that the previous planning permission is checked to ensure that permitted development rights have not been removed.

Note that the permitted development rights have recently been relaxed to allow larger extensions but these are subject to the neighbour consultation scheme. For more detail go to the helpful interactive maps and plans at www.planningportal.gov.uk

Listed buildings do not have permitted development rights and so if your building is a listed building planning permission will be needed for any works. Further restrictions apply to properties within National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites.

Domestic Works

Extensions

An extension or addition is considered to be permitted development subject to the following conditions:

  • No more than half the area of land around the "original house" (i.e. as built or as at 1948) will be covered by additions or other buildings
  • No extension to be forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of a roof
  • Maximum depth of a single storey rear extension of 3 metres for an attached house and 4 metres for a detached house
  • Maximum height of a single storey rear extension of 4 metres
  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than 1 storey of 3 metres
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within 2 metres of the boundary of 3 metres
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of 4 metres and width no more than half that of the "original house"
  • 2 storey extensions no closer than 7 metres to the rear boundary
  • Roof pitch extensions higher than 1 storey to match existing house
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to existing house
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • Upper floor, side facing windows to be obscure glazed
Loft conversions

Planning permission is not normally required unless you extend or alter the roof space beyond specified limits:

  • The volume allowance is 40 cubic metres for terraced houses and 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses
  • The extension must not be higher than the highest part of the roof and must be constructed from materials similar in appearance to the existing house
  • Side facing windows must be obscure glazed
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms

Porches

Permitted development rights permit a new porch to be built on a house without planning permission provided that the porch is no larger than 3 square metres in size and no higher than 3 metres in height, and provided no part of the porch will be within 2 metres of the boundary or the highway.

Garage conversions Planning permission is not usually required, providing the work is internal, and does not involve enlarging the building. Note however that there are a number of Building Regulations requirements in relation to garage conversions.

Garages, sheds, swimming pools, tennis courts, or other outbuildings

Planning permission is not normally required unless

  • The building is situated forward of the existing house
  • The building is more than a single storey structure and has an eaves height greater than 2.5 metres and is higher than 4 metres with a pitched roof, or 3 metres for any other roof
  • The building is located beyond the side elevation of the property and faces the highway
  • The building has a veranda, balcony or raised platform
  • More than half the area of land around the "original house" (i.e. as built or as at 1948) will be covered by additions or other buildings

Paving, surfacing and drives

Generally there are no restrictions on these, so any work will be classed as a permitted development but:

  • Planning permission will be required for decking more than 30cm above ground level or which, together with other structures, leads to over 50% of the garden being covered
  • Planning permission will be needed for driveways of more than 5 square metres which are made of impermeable material
Wind turbines Normally planning permission is required
Solar panels

Normally planning permission is not required but panels should not be installed above the ridge line and should project no more than 200mm from the roof or wall surface

Minor Exterior Works

Walls and fences

Planning permission is not required unless you wish to erect or add to a fence, gate or wall which is over 1 metre in height and next to a highway, or over 2 metres elsewhere

Painting the outside of buildings

There are no restrictions on these, so any work will be classed as a permitted development

Temporary Buildings and Uses

Temporary Buildings connected to building works

  • These have permitted development rights for the duration of building work
  • They must be removed after the conclusion of the works

Use of Open Land

  • Markets or motor racing may take place on open land for up to 14 days per year
  • This includes car boot sales
  • Any other activity may take place for up to 28 days per year

Agricultural Land

Farms over 5 hectares in size

  • Residential premises require planning permission
  • Any other farm buildings are permitted up to 465 square metres
  • Buildings housing livestock must not be built within 400 metres of the nearest house

Farms between 0.4 and 5 hectares

  • Extensions and alterations to farm buildings are permitted
  • The installation of plant and machinery is permitted

Industrial Buildings

Extensions and alterations of buildings

  • In Conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Beauty or the Norfolk Broads extensions of up to 500 square metres or 10 percent of the building size are permitted
  • In all other circumstances extensions of up to 1,000 square metres or 25 percent are permitted

These are the main areas of permitted developments. However, a number of others do exist covering the following areas:

Caravan sites
Services repairs
Drainage bodies
Gas and electricity suppliers
Coal mining
Mineral deposits
Amusement parks
Demolition

Forestry
Local authorities
Environment agency
Aviation
Mining waste
Telecommunications
Education/hospital buildings
Private road repairs

Highway authorities
Sewerage operations
Mining operations
Mineral exploration
English Heritage
Toll road facilities
CCTV

If you are looking at a development including any of these areas then it is important that you seek professional advice from the very beginning of your project. Note that even if planning permission is not required for proposed work, there may be a covenant in your title restricting the development that you want to carry out and a lot of minor works require Building Regulations consent.

Any building of a new house, in any circumstances, will always require full planning permission. However unless you live in a conservation area or the building is a listed building you do not need planning permission to demolish a building.

How We Can Help

Our experienced property department can help you with any issues you may have in respect to the expansion or re-development of your property, whether residential or commercial.

For information of users: This material is published for the information of clients. It provides only an overview of the regulations in force at the date of publication, and no action should be taken without consulting the detailed legislation or seeking professional advice. Therefore no responsibility for loss occasioned by any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material can be accepted by the authors or the firm.

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