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How to build an annex without planning permission

Planning permission is a tricky beast but sometimes there are loopholes you and an architect can explore to help give you the edge, and that includes annexes.

3 min read

Very few people get excited about planning, and if you did most of your friends would become very concerned. But here at Resi, we do have some planning nuts, who love nothing more than finding solutions to our clients biggest problems, AKA the loophole finders.

Recently, our loophole finders found something pretty impressive: a way to build an annex without needing planning permission. Sounds too good to be true? Here’s how it’s done…

Use your permitted development rights to build a non-living space

When it comes to outbuildings, the function is everything. Are you going to live in it or not?

  • If you intend to use it as a living space, maybe for an elderly relative, or older child, then you would need planning permission.
  • However, if the space is only for recreational use, then it falls within your permitted development rights, and is known as a ‘incidental outbuilding’.

If you’ve never heard of permitted development rights before, it’s a scheme created by the Government to empower homeowners to expand their homes. Under your permitted development rights, you’re given an allowance of how much new space you can create. Now there are some rules to this, and it can get confusing, so we do recommend getting an architect on board to help.

Learn more about your permitted development rights here.

Now within your permitted development rights you would be able to create the shell of an annex, and say this will be used as a recreational area - say as a games room. Getting this agreed by the council is stage one of operation Granny Annex.

Apply for a change of use and make your space livable

When your recreational space has been given the go ahead, you can get started on building your project out. Kit it out as you would either a garage, summer house, or garden store.

Once erected, you can then apply for a change of use on your building, and request permission to make your building a liveable space.

See there’s a quirk in planning law where building an annex requires planning permission, but the conversion of an existing outbuilding into an annex does not. So when you’ve been granted permission for your change of use, you can take your basic structure and start to convert it into your dream annex, adding in the plumbing, and other amenities for its future resident.

Remember, nothing’s perfect

It’s important to note, that while this can be an effective tactic to use in order to increase your chances of getting annex approval, nothing in planning is guaranteed.

You might find your property doesn’t qualify for permitted development rights, and there’s even a chance that your change of use might not be given the go ahead. So it’s important to make sure you have an architect on board to help guide you through this process.

Looking to build an annex, or any other home extension? We offer free consultation calls so every homeowner can get the facts before starting.

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Does an annex require planning permission?

An annex does not require planning permission if the space is only meant for recreational use.

Can I convert my garage into an annex?

A garage might be converted into an annex to make it a liveable space or recreational space.

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