Beta Design Consultants have extensive experience in most types of planning applications. We are therefore able to advise our clients on planning restrictions, government guidance and local authorities planning rules.
Not all changes or improvements to a property would need permission from the planning department. There are many that could be carried out with implied consent, known as Permitted Development. It is well worth being aware of these rights, and recent changes to the rules, if you want to make any significant home improvements. It could save you time and money!
Permitted Development (PD) grants rights to enable homeowners to undertake certain types of work without the need to apply for planning permission. There are opportunities where PD rights can bring benefits by improving an existing home or maximising the potential of a new investment. The scope of Permitted Development rights are varied and cover both internal and external works, but there are strict design criteria that need to be adhered to. If the project falls outside of the set criteria, then it is likely that a planning application would need to be submitted.
To take advantage of PD rights, we advise Clients on the criteria and the latest changes in a very dynamic planning system. The implied consent of Permitted Development is granted in the form of General Development Planning Orders (GDPOs) which apply separately to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We are in constant contact with local authorities to ensure correct interpretation of the rules grey areas and ensure we can advise our Clients on Permitted Development application to their cases.
For properties located in a Designated Area, such as a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Conservation Area, Permitted Development rights may be restricted or removed under what is known as an Article 4 direction. This is where rights have been removed in the interest of maintaining the character of the local area. This could also be the case if the property is listed.
For self-build replacement dwellings and cases where the proposed new home is bigger than the existing house, Permitted Development rights are likely to be restricted or even removed on condition of granting planning permission. Permitted Development requirements apply to the dwelling as it was originally built, or as it stood on 1st July 1948. PD Rights do not apply to flats or maisonettes due to the impact that any alterations could have on neighbouring properties.
Householder PD rights fall into different categories depending on the work being planned. These are:
Class A – Extensions (enlargement, improvement or alteration): This allows a householder to build a single-storey side extension up to half the width of the existing dwelling; a single-storey rear extension up to 4m in length for a detached dwelling and 3m long for a semi or a terrace house; and, in certain circumstances, 3m two-storey rear extensions. The changes that took effect on 30 May 2019 now make permanent the decision that larger single-storey rear extensions of up to 8m (6m for semi or terrace) are permissible under Class A — but do require prior notification as a neighbour consultation process is required and the application would be termed larger house extension application.
To sum up:
You can extend a detached dwelling by 8m to the rear if it’s single storey or 3m if it’s double. Semi-detached and terraced homes can be extended up to 6m to the rear of the property if single storey
There are height restrictions but they boil down to a single storey extension not being higher than 4m in height to the ridge and the eaves, and ridge heights of any extension not being higher than the existing property.
Side extensions must be single storey, maximum height of 4m and a width no more than half of the original building.
In Designated Areas side extensions require planning permission and all rear extensions must be single storey.
An extension must not result in more than half the garden being covered.
You can only do it once and the original building is either as it was on 1st July 1948 or when it was built. In Northern Ireland it is as it was built or as it was on 1st October 1973.
Prior notification is a form of Permitted Development application where the local planning authority must be notified of the details prior to development taking place. Although prior notification is a form of PD, the process is a lot more involved and the local planning authority has more power in comparison with a PD application. The rule of the local authority in a PD application is almost like a checklist exercise to compare the application with the rules set out by the government, if the application complies with the rules, then the PD rights ensure the project would go ahead. In a prior notification applications, the local authority planning department would have the discretion to evaluate the impact on neighbours, consult them and then decide.
With a PD application, the regulations are explicit and it is normally pretty clear cut as to whether a proposed scheme complied with the regulations or not. However, under a prior notification application, the local planning authority often has the opportunity to determine whether they consider the proposal to constitute conversion as opposed to rebuilding, whether the materials used are appropriate, whether the proposal would be broadly in line with the objectives of the National Planning Policy Framework, and whether there might be other associated impacts such as overshadowing, contamination, noise, flooding etc. However, these rules do allow for a number of projects to be completed without planning permission.
For householders, single storey, rear residential extensions can be built up to 8m in depth (6m for a semi or terrace) provided that boundary neighbours are first informed. If no objections are received (or any objections received are not considered to have planning merit) and the local planning authority is satisfied that there are no significant adverse impacts arising from flooding, highways or contamination, a Lawful Development Certificate is issued.
Prior notification can also be used to change the use of non-residential buildings to residential purposes. It can be used to change buildings from one commercial use to another, too.
Class B – Additions to the roof: This allows for rear dormers and hip-to-gable extensions as long as the additional volume created does not exceed 50m3 (40m3 for semis and terraced homes).
Class C – Other alterations to the roof
Class D – Porches
Class E – Buildings etc. (outbuildings): This allows for an outbuilding to be erected within a residential curtilage as long as it is sited behind the principal (often the front) elevation, does not cover more than 50% of the curtilage and is not more than 3m in height (4m for a dual-pitched roof; 2.5m where within 2m of a boundary). In Wales and Northern Ireland any outbuildings closer to the house than 5m count as extensions. In Scotland any outbuildings larger than 4m² and closer to the dwelling than 5m count as extensions. Outbuildings must be single storey with a maximum ridge height of 4m for a pitched roof or 3m for any other kind of roof. The eaves height must be no more than 2.5 metres. If the outbuilding is closer to the boundary than 2m it shall be no higher than 2.5m. No outbuilding can be forward of the original dwelling. In Wales and Northern Ireland the same applies unless the resulting building would be more than 20m from the road.
There are also specific regulations relating to Hard Surfaces (Class F), Chimneys & Flues (Class G) and Microwave antennas (Class H).
Converting Commercial and Agricultural Buildings
A1 (shops), A2 (professional and financial services) and A5 (hot food takeaways) may be converted to residential (up to 150m²). The local authority may consider the design of the associated physical development to ensure it complies with the Local Authority Planning Guidance and Policies and the potential impact of the loss of the A1/A2 use on the economic health of the town centre.
Agricultural buildings may be converted to residential (up to 450m²), as long as the building is structurally capable of being converted without requiring engineering work and providing access can be achieved. Up to five dwellings may be created up to a maximum floorspace of 465m², of which three may be ‘large’ (>100m²). This change of use is subject to prior approval being sought in respect of:
- transport and highways impacts
- noise impact
- contamination risks
- flooding risks
- location or siting
- the design or external appearance of the building
B1c (light industrial) and B8 (storage) buildings may be converted to residential as long as the gross floor space of the existing building does not exceed 500m². The local planning authority may assess the highways, contamination, flooding and economic impacts and risks associated with the proposal.
Permitted Development and Lawful Development Certificates
In theory, if a proposal constitutes Permitted Development and is fully compliant with the regulations, no application is required. However, unless the application requires the prior notification process, it is recommended to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Proposed Use or Development, otherwise known as a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC), to ensure that the proposal complies with the regulations and to avoid difficulties during and post construction.
If, once an extension or outbuilding etc. is constructed, the local authority determines that the proposal does not comply with PD regulations then the client may be faced with enforcement action, which would normally result in a request for a retrospective application. Should permission be refused there is a real likelihood that any extensions or associated works would be required to be demolished. As such, confirmation in the form of the LDC is highly recommended. The legislation is not the easiest to interpret, so we are available to advise on what is covered within the PD rights.
Under the rules, the ‘original’ (as it stood in or prior to 1948) rear wall of a detached home can be extended (subject to the neighbour consultation scheme) by up to 8m in depth with a single storey extension; this is reduced to 6m if the property is a semi or terrace. If the proposed new extension will be within 2m of a boundary, then the eaves height is limited to 3m under Permitted Development. Otherwise, a single storey rear extensions must be no higher than 4m.
If the client hopes to build a two storey extension (no higher than the house), this can project up to 3m from the original rear wall, so long as it is at least 7m from the rear boundary. It’s also important to note that no extension can project beyond or be added to what is deemed to be the front of the house or an elevation which affronts the highway. And a side extension can not make up more than half your house’s width.
Furthermore, with the exception of conservatories, new extensions must be built of materials ‘similar in appearance’ and with the same roof pitch as the main house. So while Permitted Development rights are beneficial, there’s a lot to consider before starting work.
In the past, volume limitations were applied to the entire house — so housebuilders were unlikely to be able to extend and convert the loft under Permitted Development rights as well. The good news is that the latter has now been separated out, allowing the clients to undertake both without one restricting the other. So, housebuilders can also convert the loft into a bedroom or extra living space by up to 50m³ in a detached house, or by 40m³ within any other home. Flush rooflights or those which do not project further than 150mm are permitted, but permission is required to add a dormer window on any roof elevation which faces the highway.
However, clients cannot cover more than 50% of the land around the house with extensions (including extensions by previous owners), and any outbuildings would count when calculating this coverage. Sheds and other outbuildings count in this calculation.
In March 2013 a new system was introduced to allow the conversion of barns into dwellings. Permission would still be required via the prior approvals process, but it created potential for more conversion opportunities than before.
In an attempt to release inner-city land for housing, the next change in Permitted Development was an announcement in May 2013 to allow offices to be converted to residential. This was set to expire in 2016, but in October 2015 it was declared that these rights would be made permanent.
Balconies, verandas and raised platforms (above 300mm) do not fall under Permitted Development rights
You will also now need planning permission to construct a drive from non-porous materials such as tarmac. But you can construct a new drive of porous materials, or non-porous if provision for drainage is provided on the property, under Permitted Development