Permitted Development

As a homeowner, you are allowed to carry out certain types of work on your house without the need for planning permission. These are called ‘permitted development rights.’

Building work completed within permitted development will need to meet the specific criteria and standards. This can place limitations on the maximum size of the extension and conversions you may have planned.

The limitations are quite generous and there is a lot you can do to improve your living space without the need to go through planning permission application processes.

What Project Types Can Be Permitted Development?

There are many things that can be done under permitted development and do not require planning permission. However this is only providing they meet all of the necessary planning criteria and there are no hidden constraints that limit or remove permitted development rights.

  • Conservatories
  • Extensions
  • Garage Conversions
  • Loft Conversions
  • Porches
  • Walls, Fences, Gates & Access
  • Decking
  • Pergolas
  • Driveways, Hardstandings & Dropped Kerbs
  • Conservatories
  • Outbuildings
  • Change of Use
  • House in Multiple Occupancy (HMO)
  • Solar Panels

It is very important to note that every project type has different planning and design criteria that must be met in order to be considered permitted development. In addition to this, there can be hidden constraints which remove your permitted development rights.

This literally means there could be two houses in the same town both doing exactly the same development, such as a 3-meter extension for example. One could be permitted development, while the other needs planning permission, even though they both meet the criteria for permitted development.

If you would like to find out whether your project could be permitted development, contact us for a free no-obligation consultation.

When Might Permitted Development Rights Apply?

Houses in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales can have permitted development plans, but not all houses have permitted development rights. Flats, maisonettes, and commercial properties do not have permitted development rights. Some homeowners are given the freedom to make specific alterations to their properties such as extensions, loft conversions, garage conversions and conservatories without the need for planning permission through permitted development plans.

Each project type is subject to certain standards and criteria, including limitations on the size of the building work and renovation. Luckily, these limits are quite generous for home improvement projects. However, it is important to understand that these rights vary depending on the type of property and its location.

In order to qualify, the proposed work must adhere to specified limits and conditions, as outlined in the technical guidance provided by parliament and the planning system. 

What Are The Requirements For Permitted Development Plans?

In order for the proposed changes to your property to be considered permitted development, they must meet specific requirements that vary depending on the type of project and the regulations set by the local authorities.

These requirements include complying with limits and conditions set by the local planning authority, such as not exceeding height and volume restrictions, maintaining a reasonable distance from neighbouring properties, using materials that match the existing building, and avoiding significant alterations to the property's appearance, particularly if it is located in a conservation area or is listed.

Normally, a change of use will require planning permission; however, if the change is within the same use class it may not require planning permission, making changes of use a valuable tool for property owners.

It is essential to consult with your local planning authority or a qualified town planner to ensure compliance with permitted development rules and prevent any issues with paperwork, retrospective planning, or enforcement action.

Planning By Design has a team of planning consultants that can aid with the smooth running of your project and guide you on your permitted development plans.

Prior Approval Is Required For Some Permitted Developments

Some permitted development plans require prior approval from the local planning authority. For example, a single-storey rear extension on a semi-detached house that extends between 3 and 6 metres or side extensions of up to half the width of the original dwelling could require prior approval, although they might meet the criteria for permitted development.

If prior approval is required, it is illegal to start until the local planning authority approves a prior approval planning application, ensuring there is no negative impact on your immediate neighbours.

If you start work without planning approval you risk receiving a planning enforcement notice, if a neighbour reports you or the council notice your single-storey development.

Permitted Development Limitations And Constraints

The allocation of permitted development rights is subject to limitations, with each individual house having a specific allowance. Utilising these rights for any given development will be deducted from this allowance.

In the event that the allowance has been used up by previous developments, even if a project satisfies the criteria for Permitted Development, planning permission will be required.

It should also be noted that there may be hidden planning constraints in place that could remove or restrict permitted development rights at a particular site. Examples of such constraints include Article 4 directions, conservation areas, areas designated as outstanding natural beauty, listed buildings, and even residing under a flight path.

Why Is A Lawful Development Certificate Recommended?

In order to obtain a legal determination that a development is permitted in accordance with the rules, it is necessary to submit an application for a lawful development certificate or prior approval.

The decision to approve or reject the application lies with the local planning authority. It is important to note that permitted development rights can be revoked at any time. Therefore, even if the development is deemed permissible upon completion, changes in planning policies could result in retrospective planning issues or enforcement action if there is no legal confirmation that the development was lawful and did not require planning permission.

To safeguard against this, obtaining a lawful development certificate or prior approval is essential. Additionally, a lawful development certificate is typically required when selling or remortgaging a property, as it provides confirmation of the development's legality and protects against potential issues or enforcement action. This is especially important in regard to protecting personal information and the value of the property.

What Are the Risks Of Getting Permitted Development Wrong?

There can be serious and costly consequences for getting permitted development wrong! If the council determines planning permission is required for something you have already done, you would receive a planning enforcement notice giving you 28 days to apply for retrospective planning approval or put the property back to its original state and use. Around 20% of our planning applications are retrospective and 90% of the UK's enforcement teams are significantly backlogged so, these issues are common. 99% of enforcement cases are for things people were sure did not need planning permission but got it wrong! We strongly recommend reading Common Permitted Development Mistakes: How to Avoid Them so that you don't make any of these common mistakes.

We have also partnered with a number of businesses that can support you through the planning application process and provide additional services where needed. Take a look at our range of partners to find out more about what they do.

How to find out if your project is permitted development or needs planning permission?

It is strongly recommended that you seek expert advice from a qualified town planner prior to commencing any work to limit your risk and expense. If your local government planning authority still offers a Pre-Application service, this would be one option. Alternatively, our team of experts at Planning By Design can assist you with Pre-Planning Advice. If you would like to find out whether your project could be PD or whether planning permission will be required before starting the construction stage, Contact Us today for a free no-obligation consultation.

Choose Planning By Design For Support With Permitted Development

If you would like to find out whether your project is permitted development or requires planning permission, we can provide you with pre-planning advice starting with a free no obligation chat to discuss your project.

Contact us now for a free no obligation consultation to discuss your project.

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Read more News & FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Permitted Development

Permitted development rights allow households to make adjustments and improvements or to extend their living space without the need to apply for planning permission to do so. Applying for planning permissions would be disproportionate to the work being carried out on the house. Larger single-storey rear extensions are subjected to a neighbourhood consultation scheme before permitted development plans can be approved. For some permitted development projects, prior approval is needed before work can commence. Prior approval is a type of planning application that is usually needed due to the design or overall scale of the planned development.
If the planned proposal is not a permitted development, then yes, neighbours can report the plans to their Local Planning Authority who can issue an enforcement notice. If the plans have lawful development certification, then neighbours cannot object and cannot report the plans if they are lawful and approved.
Extensions of more than one storey do not fall under permitted development rights. Extensions (including prior extensions) and other buildings cannot exceed 50% of the total area of land around the original house. Additions or other buildings would not cover more than 50% of the land area surrounding the original house, as it was first built.
If the permitted development plans comply with all of the regulations and rules of permitted development rights, then plans should be accepted and so work can go ahead as planned without further complications. However, like any planning application, the decision lies with the Local Planning Authority who will either approve or reject the application. If even one criterion is not met or constraints are removed, permitted development rights and Lawful Development Certificate would be refused and planning permission would be required. If you believe that the decision to refuse your plans is wrongful, then you can appeal to the planning inspectorate for an impartial review of the decision.