20 Things you Can Do to your Home Without Needing Planning Permission

Most substantial alterations to a building require planning permission from the local authority, but some changes may be made without such permission, on the grounds that they are, in effect, ‘pre-approved’ under a home owner’s Permitted Development Rights.

What is Permitted Development?

Some minor alterations to a property are allowed under Permitted Development Rights, subject to any additional restrictions in place should the property in question be ‘listed’ or located in a designated area. There are 20 such alterations that may be undertaken without the need for planning permission, although it is always advisable to check with the planning authority should there be any doubt.

Internal remodelling
It is usually permitted for you to alter the internal structure of your property within permitted development rules, certainly if this work does not entail increasing the house’s footprint. There may, however, be a requirement to adhere to Building Regulations in relation to electrical safety and the structural integrity of the alterations.

  1. Moving or Adding Windows & Doors
  2. Adding or moving doors and windows

Planning permission is not normally required for changes involving windows, including the fitting of double glazing, unless the building in question is listed, or there were any relevant stipulations included in the original planning permission. However, certain Building Regulations might need to be adhered to if a new window or door is of a certain size. It should also be pointed out that planning permission might be needed for the construction of a bay window, on the grounds that it would be categorised as an extension, but not for adding a new door or window on a side elevation, provided that it is fitted with frosted glass. A further stipulation is that such windows and doors must be mounted in a non-opening frame, unless the opener is in excess of 1.7m from the floor.

Garage conversions
Turning a garage, or other existing extension of your property, into a habitable room is permissible, if the current footprint of the property is not changed.

Single-storey extensions

A 1-storey extension can be erected under permitted development rules, provided that: 1. it is built using materials that are not dissimilar to those used for the remainder of the building, 2. the extended part of the property does not protrude beyond the principal elevation, and 3. the eaves of the extension to not exceed a height of 4 metres (or 3 metres if within 2 metres of a boundary).

The width of a side extension must not exceed half the width of the existing property, and a side extension is not permissible on a building located in an Article 1(5) area, such as a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

A rear extension can have a depth of no more than 4 metres if it is added to a detached house, and it may not exceed a depth of 3 metres in the case of a semi-detached or terraced house.

A full list of stipulations can be found at: planningportal.gov.uk

Rooflights

It is permissible to add rooflights to the roof of a property, as long as they do not protrude by more than 0.15 metres. Rooflights are not allowed, however, if they protrude beyond the roof plane that overlooks a highway, and they are not allowed at all in a Conservation Area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or in any other Article 4 Direction Area.

Loft conversions

A loft conversion can be carried out as a permitted development project, provided that the converted area does not exceed 40 cubic metres. Such a conversion can include the installation of dormer windows, subject to these windows not extending above the height of the current roof, and provided that they do not protrude forward of the roof plane of the principal elevation.

Two-storey extensions

A two-storey extension can be erected at the rear of a property as a permitted development, even if it is attached to an existing single storey. A two-storey addition may not, however, have a depth of more than 3 metres, and it must not extend to within 7 metres of the rear boundary of the property – but these extensions do have certain stipulations in terms of the glazing of their windows.

Conservatories

Conservatories (and also orangeries) are viewed in the same way as any other single-storey extension, and so can also be built as a permitted development project.

Outbuildings and sheds

It is permissible to build any number of sheds and other outbuildings on your property, subject to certain restrictions. One of these is that no outbuilding may protrude in front of the building line of the main house. Permitted development would also not cover an outbuilding with a dual pitch roof that is more than 4 metres in height, one with any other kind of roof that extends higher than 3 metres, or one which is over 2.5 metres in height when it is also within 2 metres of the boundary of the plot. Of course, any outbuilding must consist of no more than one storey, with its eaves being no more than 2.5 metres high.

The one other stipulation is that the new outbuildings do not take up more than half of the curtilage area (which is calculated as the total size of the plot, less the land covered by the main building, but not excluding any existing extensions).

The intended purpose of any outbuilding is also a significant factor, since it is permissible to erect a structure to have an ‘incidental’ function, such as an office or a recreational area, but it is not possible to add an extra bedroom to the property under permitted development.
Creating one property from two

Combining two adjacent properties to make one large one is usually something that does not need planning permission, but the reverse is not true, since dividing a property to make two separate properties is not something that can be done as permitted development.

Porches

Planning permission is not required for a porch on the front of a house, as long as its footprint is 3 square metres or less, its height does not exceed 3 metres and it is at least 2 metres away from any boundary that is adjacent to the highway.

Walls, fences and gates

Generally, any action relating to a physical boundary to a property, such as a wall, fence or gate, (including erecting one), can be dealt with under permitted development, without the need for planning permission, as long as the structure is not more than 2 metres high, (or 1 metre high, if adjacent to a highway). Planning permission is, however, required in the case of a listed building.

Decking for your garden

For any outdoor decking-type structure, there is usually no need for planning permission, provided that it does not extend to more than 0.3 metres from the ground. There are, however, specific rules regarding garden decking, and so it is best to check these at:  planningportal.co.uk

Swimming pools

In relation to adding an outdoor swimming pool to a property, any pool that does not take up more than half of the area of the garden may be built under permitted development.

Adding vehicular access

Whether planning permission is required for adding a new vehicular access point to a property depends on whether access is required onto a classified road – if it is, then planning permission must be applied for, but this would not be the case for an unclassified road. When creating access onto a classified road, visibility for vehicles leaving the site will be taken into account, and it is also important that there will be enough space on your property in the vicinity of the access point to enable vehicles to turn, so that they do not need to reverse onto the road.

Issues relating to wall cladding

Generally, changes can be made to the nature of the cladding on the walls of a building, provided that the building is not on Article 1(5) land, (which relates to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or somewhere with a similar designation).

Solar panels

It is permissible to install solar panels on a wall or a roof, as long as they do not extend for more than 0.2 metres beyond the surface to which they are attached, and do not protrude above the roof. (Any chimney does not count as part of the roof, for this purpose). There are certain restrictions for listed buildings and for any building located within a Conservation Area.

The situation is slightly different for solar panels that are free-standing, as there are stipulations regarding the maximum size of panel that is permitted, and also in relation to the panels’ location in relation to a property’s boundary.

Basements

Recently, a decision was made in a case that went to appeal that a basement may be added to a property under Permitted Development Rights – specifically under Class A of the GPDO (General Permitted Development Order), provided that no engineering works are carried out.

Car parking spaces

The creation of one or more hard-standing parking spaces within a property is dealt with under Class F of the GPDO, and the main concern is the porosity properties of the new surface. This relates to the impact of the provision of parking spaces on what happens to rain when it falls, as there is a concern that rain does not just simply run off onto the highway. Car parking spaces can be made under Permitted Development Rights, provided that any such spaces that have a footprint of more than 5 square metres, or which are located between the front of the property and the highway, are either made of a porous material, or designed so that rain water is channelled to a porous or permeable area within the property.

Rules governing commercial or industrial buildings

Converting an industrial, commercial or agricultural building to one that is used for residential purposes can be done as permitted development, provided that the property is not a listed building and is not located in a Conservation Area, although there are ‘Prior Notification’ procedures that must be followed in the case of agricultural buildings.

Prior Notification

Although it is permissible for a one-story, residential extension to the rear of a property to be added to a property, provided that it has a depth of no more than 8 metres (or 6 metres, in the case of terrace and semi-detached buildings), since 2013 there has been the requirement for boundary neighbours to be given Prior Notification of the planned changes. A Certificate of Lawful Development will be issued if there are no objections from the neighbours, or if any objections received are considered to have no merit in planning terms. The introduction of the Prior Notification process also enabled change of use of a building from ‘office use’ to ‘residential use’.

Prior Notification was extended to cover agricultural buildings in April 2014, (Class Q), which made it permissible for such buildings to be converted for residential use, as long as no major structural alterations were required, (and some other conditions were met). An agricultural building can, however, be converted into a maximum of three residences, and can account for no more than 450 cubic metres of internal floorspace.