Permitted Development Explained

It is a common question as to whether planning permission is needed following hearsay of permitted development and something we regularly get asked.

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Do I need planning permission?

When extending your house its often assumed that you will need planning permission, however, this is not always the case and in some instances, extensions are allowed under national permitted development rights.

If your extension proposals fall within the national permitted development rights then in theory you could start construction works immediately without any planning permissions. However the permitted development rules must be interpreted correctly and accurately to ensure that they comply with the policies to ensure no risk of enforcement notice demolition from your local planning authority. In a number of cases, different authorities and case officers have interpreted these permitted development rules slightly differently, leading to ambiguity in what would be considered permissible.

We therefore advise submitting a Lawful Development Certificate for the proposed works prior to starting. This ensures that the local planning authority check and confirm that the works are lawful in line with national permitted development rules and that works do not need planning consent. Beyond your own piece of mind that the works are lawful, it is very likely that your mortgage company, financer (if you are financing the build) and any future purchaser of your property would require proof of lawfulness of works.

Submitting a Lawful Development Certificate

The process of obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate is pretty similar to making a planning application. It is submitted via the Planning Portal and then the local planning authority will validate the application and assess it. As with planning applications for residential dwellings the local authorities have 8 weeks to determine the application once it is validated.

What are differences between permitted development and a “normal” planning application.

Whilst the times frames, forms and required documents for a permitted development application are very similar to planning applications the design guidelines and methods of assessments are very different. The local planning authority will assess the application against the national permitted development rights rather than local planning policies. There are often opportunities to extend that are acceptable under permitted development rules but not under local planning rules.

With non permitted development applications, local planning policies are often subjective with the case officer making assessments based upon subjective judgement on the requirements e.g. ‘being harmonious’, ‘in keeping’ etc. In contrast permitted development rights are generally more specific in nature, with clearer descriptive requirements set out e.g. sizes, heights and volumes clearly defined. With this mind the rules are generally less ambiguous (although for some aspects still open to interpretation).

Form our experience working with many different planning authorities, we have found planning policy is often more restrictive than permitted development rights and it is often possible to build with a Lawful Development Certificate, works that would otherwise be restricted by local planning policy. For each project as part of the design and planning application process, we work with you to discuss options for obtaining planning permissions, and it is not uncommon for us to submit multiple  applications (e.g. a combination of a Lawful Development Certificate and Householder application) for one project in order to get the best outcome for our clients. It is important to meet all applicable criteria required under the legislation.

An outline of Permitted Development rights for homeowners

Permitted Development Rights derive from a parliamentary grant, with the principal order that gives the rights is the Town and County Planning (General Permitted Development) England Order 2015. The order schedules works that you can do without requiring planning permission.

Schedule 2 of the order splits Permitted Development Rights under 19 parts. Works to residential dwellings are mainly covered within Part 1 “Development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse”, and Part 2 “Minor operations”. Each part lists very specific types of work under different classes each which have differing restrictions and conditions that must be met exactly.

The more substantial permitted development rights for residential extensions are contained within Part 1, Classes A to E as follows:

Class A – Enlargement, improvement, or other alteration of a dwelling house

Class A outlines the permitted development rights for rear extensions, side extensions and infills, as well as general alterations such as adding new windows and doors. Typically, rear extensions are single storey and up to 3-4m in depth. But in certain situations, it may be possible to extend up to 8m without planning permission. Double storey extensions are also covered, but these must be a minimum of 2m away from the boundary which does restrict many instances in and around London.

Class B & Class C – Additions and alterations to the roof of a dwellinghouse

These classes provide the permitted development rights for roof extensions, re-roofing and adding rooflights. Generally, roof extensions must be to the rear of the house and less than 40 cubic metres in size (i.e. additional external volume). This allowance increases to 50 cubic metres if the house is detached or semi-detached.

Class D – Porches

Small front extensions of up to 3 square metres are often permitted development when placed directly outside an external door.

Class E – buildings etc incidental to the enjoyment of a dwelling house

This class provides permitted development rights for outbuildings such as swimming pools. The main requirements are that the building must be detached, less than 50% of the garden, and not forward of the front of the house. For outbuildings there are restrictions such as how tall this can be - which depend on the proximity to the boundary.

Where are Permitted Development Rules Restricted?

The above summarises some of the building works that can be possible under permitted development rules, however there are a number of restrictions and conditions that apply in certain areas and/or for certain buildings. This includes designated areas, listed buildings, and properties or areas where permitted development rights have been specifically withdrawn.

It is also important to note as a homeowner that permitted development rules are only relevant for houses and do not apply to flats or maisonettes. Commercial properties do have some Permitted Development rights but they are different to those for residential dwellings.

Permitted Development for Listed Buildings

A large number of permitted development rights do not apply to listed buildings.  Alterations to listed buildings or within their curtilage usually require planning permission and listed building consent from the local planning authority. Even where permitted development rights do exist it may still be necessary to also seek listed building consent.

Permitted Development in Designated Areas

In some areas of the country but not all (local policies should be checked), known generally as ‘designated areas’ or Article 2(3) land, permitted development rights are also restricted. These include;

  • Conservation Areas
  • National Parks
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • World Heritage Site

If you live in one of these areas you may well need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work that may be permitted development in other areas.

Article 4 Directions

In addition to designated areas, your property might be in an area where permitted development rights have been specifically removed. The local planning authority does this by issuing an ‘Article 4’ direction. Local authorities generally implement article 4 directions in areas of special character, it is worth getting your architectural practice to check this.
If you are considering doing works to your property and would like to discuss this with one of our team, please feel free to get in touch for a free no-obligation discussion. Our contact information can be found here.