When can and can’t you use your permitted development rights?

Buy to Let Terrace

Thinking of sprucing up your home with an extension, porch or new garden building? As a homeowner, you have certain permitted development rights that allow you to make minor changes without needing full planning permission.

Permitted development essentially gives free rein on specified minor building works, as long as you comply with some basic conditions. It aims to strike a balance between allowing homeowners reasonable freedom and flexibility, while still exercising control for larger projects.

Before you call the builders in, it’s worth understanding what counts as permitted development versus what needs additional approval. We also recommend having a property survey carried out to uncover any issues before you begin to ensure you stay within the initial scope of the project.

When You Can Use Permitted Development Rights

As a homeowner in the UK, there are a number of projects where you can safely assume you have permitted development rights. These allow you to bypass the usual planning permission process, as long as your intended works fall within the rules. These include:

Single-storey Rear Extensions: Extensions up to 3 to 4 metres, dependent on house type, are usually permitted. However, restrictions apply regarding height, distance from boundaries and external materials that can match the existing house.

Garden Sheds and Enclosures: As long as you locate them appropriately and they meet dimensional requirements, you can build sheds, enclosures or small greenhouses without prior approvals. Freestanding structures at the end of gardens tend to fall within rights.

Porches: Covered porches to home entrances are fine, again meeting stipulations on size and placement. Most houses are allowed porches up to 3 square metres.

Loft Conversions: Adding extra living space through a loft conversion is possible under permitted development, as long as you stay within volume allowances and have minimum headroom. Rooflights are also typically fine to install.

Other Minor Building Works: Alterations like garden decking, new gates, temporary summer houses and most boundary walls and fencing also won’t usually require additional permissions.

Essentially, permitted development aims to let homeowners make reasonable enhancements befitting everyday needs. Just ensure your project remains proportionate in scale, positioning and appearance so as not to impose on neighbours or override area protections. The key is staying within explicitly defined limits rather than making substantial, overt changes to existing property footprints and outlines.

When You Can’t Use Permitted Development Rights

While permitted development grants flexibility for many minor property alterations, there are important exceptions where planning permission is still required.

Conservation Areas and Designated Land: Extra planning protections exist in conservation areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and other designated land. Additional approvals required for external building works to maintain the character of these protected places. Likewise, if you have a period property, you may need additional permissions before starting any work.

Article 4 Directions: Local councils can issue Article 4 directions to remove permitted development rights in certain areas by requiring planning permission for works that would normally be allowed under those rights. So, your rights may be restricted by an Article 4 provision in your location.

Roof Alterations or Additional Storeys: Tampering with roof forms, lifting ridge heights, or the addition of balconies or extra storeys will all need planning permission as these make substantial changes to the property.

Cladding or Re-facing External Walls: Replacing exterior walls of a home with a different material would require permission as it alters the home’s appearance fundamentally.

Exceeding Limits: Whether building a large rear extension, high fencing or oversized outbuilding, surpassing the defined size constraints removes your permitted development rights for those projects.

Commercial Use: If you want to alter or extend a home for a business or commercial purpose like storage, offices or workshops, permitted development rights for residential dwellings won’t apply in most cases.

The bottom line is making major alterations or building significantly larger structures will invariably require planning permission. Home conversions, enlargements and any works viewed as the point at which ‘scale tips’ typically mean you’ll need approvals. Understanding your rights versus when a statutory application becomes necessary is key.

As we’ve covered, permitted development rights grant homeowners reasonable scope to make minor property additions and alterations without full planning permission. Many typical residential projects like rear extensions, garden buildings and the like can leverage these rights if they remain within clearly defined limits.

Stay within explicit parameters for size, height, location and appearance, and you can self-approve many basic home improvements. But if you plan to substantially alter, exceed thresholds or impinge on protected locales, securing formal planning permission will become necessary. For professional advice from the experts, contact Alan Rance Surveyors today.

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