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Permitted development rights and the green belt

Learn how your permitted development rights are affected when you live in a green belt and what this means for your dream extension.

5 min read

Permitted development rights and the green belt are two terms you may have heard in passing; however, until you start a big home project, it’s unlikely you’ve delved into the nitty gritty details.

Are you currently wondering how building on the green belt might affect your permitted development rights? Are you wondering what those rights even are? If so, here’s a little guide to this planning lexicon.

What is green belt land?

Green belt land often surrounds larger cities. It’s classed as protected open space, intended to maintain areas of forestry and agriculture. The purpose of a green belt is to help prevent urban sprawl, protect native wildlife, and retain the character of rural communities.

The UK is mired in controversy around what kind of land is classed as a green belt. For example, some of it hasn’t been the most naturally stunning (think abandoned car parks). However, on the whole, it's a worthwhile scheme that helps protect the UK’s green spaces.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are a government scheme that entitles some homeowners to expand their homes without having to fill out a full planning application.

There are many guidelines regarding what extension/conversion projects fall within your permitted development rights.

They can be applied to:

  • Rear extensions
  • Side extensions
  • Wraparound extensions
  • Two-storey extensions
  • Garage conversions
  • Loft conversions
  • Building a new storey or flat onto your property

However, each of these projects comes with its own strict guidelines, limiting you on everything from height, cubic metres added, to materials used. Not only this, but certain homes will be excluded from the scheme, such as listed buildings and flats/maisonettes.

Sadly, these are just some of the rules associated with permitted development. For this reason, it’s hardly surprising many people are left scratching their heads when it comes to what they can and can’t do under permitted development rights in the green belt.

So, can you build on green belt land under permitted development rights?

The short answer is, yes!

Permitted development rights are only redacted on what’s known as Article 2 (3) land. This refers to National Parks, the Broads, an area of outstanding beauty (AONB), World Heritage Sites, and Conservation areas. Green belt land is separate to these categories; so, in theory, your permitted development rights still exist. In fact, they might be your best option for extending your home, especially considering you’re likely to face push back from a planning permission application if ‘building out’ on a green belt.

Do I need and architect to build on green belt land under permitted development rights?

To prevent accidentally proposing a design your rights don’t cover, we recommend using an architect to draw up your project. An experienced architect will know what might be possible and can advise you on your planning hopes and dreams. Why not get in touch with us at Resi? Our in-house experts are here to help you unravel the knots of bureaucracy and make sure you’re well-informed about your rights and progress at every stage of your project.

Top tip: Even though planning permission won’t be required, you should still apply for a lawful development certificate. Read on for why.

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What’s a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) and why do I need one?

A lawful development certificate isn’t a legal requirement, but obtaining one is incredibly worthwhile.

This certificate essentially proves to both your local authority and future buyers that your home project was legal at the point of construction. This protects you in the event the rules around permitted development rights change, and is particularly worthwhile in politically charged pieces of land, such as the green belt.

What do you need to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate?

A lawful development certificate is applied for in much the same way as planning permission. You’ll need:

  • An application form
  • Evidence verifying the information within the application
    • This would include architectural plans and elevations
  • A site location plan
  • To pay a fee

You’ll also need to strap yourself in for a long wait as approval will typically take 8 weeks. However, unlike planning permission, as long as your project ticks the right boxes, you should be fine. For this reason, it’s best to have an architect by your side – not only to do your proposed designs but to act as your planning agent as well.

Learn more about lawful development certificates.

Permitted development outbuildings and the green belt

Can I put a shed on greenbelt land?

Sheds are essentially considered outbuildings under permitted development, which means there aren’t different rules for sheds built on the green belt to anywhere else. So, as long as the land isn't protected for another reason (such as an area of outstanding natural beauty, world heritage site etc.), building a shed is fine.

However, it does have to comply with a range of other stipulations under Class E of the permitted development rules, including:

  • The total area of ground covered by all buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) cannot exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse)
  • No part of the shed can be situated on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse
  • The shed has to be single storey
  • A shed can’t exceed the height of 4 metres in the case of a building with a dual-pitched roof, 2.5 metres if within 2 metres of the boundary, and 3 metres in any other case.
  • The eaves height of the shed cant be more than 2.5m
  • A shed can’t be within the curtilage of a listed building

What can I do with green belt land?

Some ideas for what you can do if your property is on green belt land include:

  • Adding extensions that fall within permitted development, such as a small side, rear or single/double storey extension. NB: As long as they don’t result in disproportionate additions over or above the original building
  • Building a porch less than 3m2 in total
  • Converting your loft, garage or basement
  • Adding dormer windows to your roof
  • Installing solar panels on your roof
  • Building appropriate facilities for outdoor sports or recreation as long as it preserves the openness of the Green Belt

For more information, read the permitted development government guidelines here.

If you’re looking for support with your home improvement project, from idea to build, Resi has your back. With our comprehensive in-house solution, we have the perfect Resi-loution.


  • Having a home in the green belt doesn’t exclude you from using your permitted development rights.
  • However, listed buildings, flats, and maisonettes are excluded from the scheme.
  • Being in a green belt can create more caveats for your project. Therefore, it’s recommended you hire an architect to help you dot the I’s and cross the T’s.
  • For extra security, we also recommend obtaining a lawful development certificate as proof your build is legal.

Need more tailored advice on the green belt? Book a free consultation

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