How to Navigate the UK’s Permitted Development Rights for Property Extensions?

March 22, 2024

Do you dream of adding a storey to your house, extending your kitchen, or perhaps, building a conservatory to enjoy the summer sunshine? Extensions are an excellent way to add both space and value to your home. However, before you can bring your extension dreams to life, you have to navigate the world of planning permissions.

In the UK, some development projects do not require explicit planning permission from your local authority. They fall under what is known as ‘permitted development rights’. While this can simplify the process, understanding these rights and ensuring your project complies with all relevant rules can still be a challenge. This guide is here to help you understand and take advantage of the UK’s permitted development rights.

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Understand Permitted Development Rights

Before starting your project, it’s crucial that you understand what permitted development rights are and how they affect your building plans.

In the UK, permitted development rights are a set of regulations that allow homeowners to carry out certain types of work on their property without requiring planning permission from the local planning authority. These rights apply to various types of work, including extensions, loft conversions, changes to the internal layout, and others, depending on various factors such as the size and location of your property.

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However, it’s important to remember that permitted development rights are not a free-for-all. They come with specific limitations and conditions. These may include restrictions on size, height, materials used, and impact on the local area, among others. Furthermore, even if your project falls under permitted development, you will still need to comply with other regulations such as building regulations or party wall agreements.

Knowing the Limits of Your Permitted Development Rights

Permitted development rights come with specific limitations that you need to be aware of before starting your project.

For instance, if you’re planning an extension, the extension must be no more than half the area of land around the "original house". The "original house" is how it was first built or as it stood on July 1, 1948 if it was constructed before that date. Moreover, extensions cannot be higher than the highest part of the existing roof.

Single-storey rear extensions must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three meters if an attached house, or by four meters if a detached house. If the extension is within two meters of a boundary, the eaves height should not exceed three meters.

These are just a few common conditions. However, each project will have its own specific restrictions, so it’s crucial to thoroughly check your permitted development rights before moving forward with your plans.

Check if Your Property is Exempt from Permitted Development Rights

Not all properties in the UK have the same permitted development rights.

Certain areas, known as ‘designated areas’, have more stringent planning controls. These may include national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, and the Broads. If your property is in one of these areas, your permitted development rights may be restricted or removed entirely.

In addition, if your property is a listed building, you will need listed building consent for any significant works, whether internal or external. This can be a complex process, and you should seek advice from your local planning authority before proceeding with any works.

Apply for a Lawful Development Certificate

Even if your project falls under permitted development, it’s a good idea to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) from your local planning authority.

An LDC is not the same as planning permission but is a legal document that confirms that your proposed work falls within permitted development rights. It can be beneficial to have this document when you sell your property, as it provides reassurance to potential buyers that the works have been carried out legally.

To apply for an LDC, you will need to provide detailed information about your proposal, including plans and elevations. The fee for an LDC is typically half that of a planning application.

Seek Professional Advice

Navigating the UK’s permitted development rights can be complex. If you’re unsure about any aspect of your project, it’s worth seeking professional advice.

An architect or planning consultant can help you understand your rights, advise you on how to comply with the rules, and assist you in preparing and submitting your LDC application. They can also help you manage any other necessary consents or inspections, such as building regulations approval or party wall agreements.

With careful planning and due diligence, your extension project can be a success. Understanding and utilising your permitted development rights can help you achieve your dream home improvement while minimising the planning bureaucracy.

Exploring the Different Types of Permitted Developments

Understanding the types of developments that fall under permitted development rights is pivotal in planning your extension project.

There are a variety of improvements and alterations to your home that you can carry out under permitted development rights. These include, but are not limited to, single-storey extensions, double-storey extensions, loft conversions, conservatories, and outbuildings.

Single-storey extensions are a popular choice for homeowners looking to increase their living space. Such an extension can be added to the front, side, or rear of your property. However, specific limitations apply in terms of the extension’s height and how far it can extend from the original house.

On the other hand, double-storey extensions provide even more additional space. They are subject to stricter regulations, and the extension should not be higher than the highest part of your existing house. The extension also cannot extend more than 3 metres beyond the rear wall of your original house for semi-detached properties and more than 4 metres for detached houses.

Outbuildings, including garden sheds, greenhouses, and garages, are also allowed under permitted development. However, they must not cover more than half the land around the original house.

Before proceeding with any works, it’s crucial to check with your local authority or planning consultant to ensure your proposed development falls within the rules and does not require prior approval or a planning application.

Appeal Against a Refusal of Lawful Development Certificate

There may be instances where your Lawful Development Certificate application might be denied by the local planning authority. However, this shouldn’t be a cause for panic as you can appeal against the decision.

To appeal, you need to submit a form to the Secretary of State within 12 weeks of the date of the decision. You will need to provide a copy of your original application, the local planning authority’s decision notice, and a statement outlining your reasons for the appeal.

During the appeal process, your original application and the local planning authority’s decision will be thoroughly reviewed. An inspector will then make a decision based on all the information provided. The inspector can uphold the local planning authority’s decision or overturn it.

If the decision is overturned, your Lawful Development Certificate will be granted and you can proceed with your development. If the decision is upheld, you may have to modify your plans to comply with development rules or apply for planning permission.

Remember, it may take several weeks or even months for the appeal process to be fully booked and completed, so it’s important to factor this into your project timeline.

Conclusion

Navigating the UK’s permitted development rights for property extensions can be complex, but with the right knowledge and understanding, it’s a process you can handle successfully. Ensuring your development complies with the specific conditions and limitations that come with permitted development rights will save you from unnecessary hassles and complications.

If you’re uncertain about the process, seeking professional advice from a planning consultant or an architect can be incredibly beneficial. They can provide guidance on your rights, help ensure your plans comply with all relevant building regulations, and assist in the preparation and submission of your Lawful Development Certificate application.

Always remember to check if your property is exempt from permitted development rights, understand the limits of your rights, and apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for legal assurance. With careful planning and due diligence, you can make your dream home improvement a reality while avoiding excessive planning bureaucracy.