In Specific Circumstances Alteration to a House Is Permitted Without Planning Permission

All building development of any significant scale is controlled by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which is amended from time to time to reflect changing priorities, needs and trends. For most individuals, the only time that they will need to understand the planning laws (other than if they find that they need to…

All building development of any significant scale is controlled by the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, which is amended from time to time to reflect changing priorities, needs and trends.

For most individuals, the only time that they will need to understand the planning laws (other than if they find that they need to object to a proposed development that may affect them damageally) is when they want to extend or alter their own home.

There are many cases where individual home owners have unwittingly taken out works illegally and have been faced with Enforcement Action by the Local Planning Authority. This is clearly a very stressful process, and can always be avoided if the correct advice is thought at the outside.

Firstly, for dwelling houses occupied as single family homes, and that is to say not divided into flats or bedsits, there exist extensive Permitted Development rights, most recently amended in October 2008, that allow a range of modifications and alterations to houses without the need to apply for further Planning Permission.

There are three major categories of alterations that come under the heading of Permitted Development:

Single Storey Extensions:

To qualify as Permitted Development, a single storey rear extension must not project more than 3 meters beyond the original rear elevation of the house if it is an attached house or 4 meters if it is a detached house. A single storey side extension must not exceed more than 50% of the width of the original house. If a side extension encroaches within 2 meters of the boundary with another property, the maximum height at the eaves must not exceed 3 meters. Otherwise, single storey extensions must not exceed 4 meters in height.

All external finishes and materials should closely resemble those of the original building.

Extensions and other outbuildings, garages or dividends must not exceed 50% of the area of ​​land around the original house.

Two Storey Extensions:

To be allowed as Permitted Development, a two storey extension must not project more than 3 meters beyond the original rear elevation of the house, or encroach within 7 meters of a boundary opposite the rear elevation of the house. A two storey side extension must not be more than 3 meters high if it encroaches within 2 meters of a boundary.

The eaves height and the ridge height of the two storey extension must not be any higher than the eaves and ridge height of the original building. If the original building has a pitched roof, then the roof of the two storey extension should resemble the original roof as closely as possible in terms of pitch and materials.

Any side facing windows at first floor level must be obscured non open glazing up to a point at 1.7 meters minimum above first floor level.

Roof terraces or balconies can not be created as Permitted Development.

All external finishes and materials should closely resemble those of the original building.

Roof Extensions:

Roof extensions and loft conversions are Permitted Development as long as the additional volume created by the extension (usually in the form of a dormer widow) does not exceed 40 cubic metres for a terraced house or 50 cubic meters for a detached or semi detached house. In addition to this, the extension must not be higher than the original ridge height of the house and, with the exception of a hip-to-gable extension, should be set back from the rear or side wall of the house by 200mm.

Permitted Development does NOT include any extension to the front pitch of the roof to the principal elevation that fronts a highway.

At roof level any side facing windows must be obscured non open glazing up to a point at 1.7 meters at a minimum above floor level.

Roof terraces or balconies can not be created as Permitted Development.

All external finishes and materials should closely resemble those of the original building.

Designated Land:

On Designated Land, previously National Parks, the Broads, preservation areas, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty and World Heritage Sites, two storey extensions are not allowed as Permitted Development. Similarly, cladding existing buildings or existing extensions with any material is not allowed as Permitted Development.

The responsibility for carrying out work on your own home lies with the owner of the buildings or land. It is very important to make sure that the correct permission is obtained before starting any work.

If you need to make sure that the works being carried out are indeed Permitted Development, an application to the Local Planning Authority for a Certificate of Lawful Development can be made so that the works are certified as legal without obtaining planning permission.