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What are permitted development rights?

Last updated Wednesday 08 August 2018

Permitted development rights are a type of general planning permission granted by Parliament. If your plans fall within certain restrictions, this allows you to bypass submitting a planning application.

Permitted development only applies to houses and outhouses (never flats or maisonettes), and there may also be exceptions if you live in a listed building or in a conservation area (‘Article 4’ direction). If you’ve had building work done in the past, you may also have used up your some or all of your permitted development rights.

Like planning permission, permitted development is regulated through your local planning authority. You should always speak to a qualified architect or designer to make sure your plans are compliant before you start building, and consider applying for a lawful development certificate.

What is a lawful development certificate?

If the legislation for permitted development on your project aren’t clear cut, or it has been conditionally withdrawn in your area, you should definitely apply for a lawful development certificate or may even need to submit a planning application.

However, we recommend it for everyone using their permitted development rights. The process ensures that your building work (past, present or future) is compliant, and will protect you when you come to sell your property.

The application process is similar to a planning application. You’ll need to provide:

  • An application form

  • Evidence verifying the information within the application.

  • This would include architectural plans and elevations

  • A site location plan

  • A fee


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What type of work falls under permitted development?

You can use these checklists to get a rough idea of whether or not your plans will fall within your permitted development rights.

If you’re not sure whether or not you need planning permission, or you’d like help applying for a lawful development certificate, book in a free consultation call with our friendly team today.

You’re usually within permitted development rights if your single storey extension or conservatory...

  • Sits to the side (as long as this will not face a highway) or rear of the house (not the front)

  • Must not extend beyond the rear wall of the existing house by 3m if an attached house or 4m if detached

  • Uses similar building materials to the existing house

  • Takes up less than 50% of the size of the land around the original house ("original" being the latest of when the property was built or if it was built before 1948, then as it stood on 1st July 1948)

  • If a side extension is less than 50% of the width of the original house

  • Is less than 4m in height (or less than 3m if within 2m of a property boundary)

  • Has eaves and a ridge that are no taller than the existing house

These are just a few guidelines. There may be more criteria which you need to meet but we can cover that for you with our free phone consultations.

You’re usually within permitted development rights if your loft conversion...

  • Adds less than 40m3 (cubed) to a terraced house, or 50m3 to a detached or semi-detached house
  • Uses similar building materials to the existing house
  • Sits lower or equal to the highest existing part of the roof
  • A dormer wall that is set back at least 20cm from the existing wall face
  • Has windows that are non-opening if less than 1.7m from the floor level
  • Has side windows that are obscured/frosted

You’re usually within permitted development rights if your porch...

  • Takes up a total ground area less than 3m2
  • Has a highest point less than 3m
  • Doesn’t sit within 2m of a property boundary that leads to a road

What building work doesn’t fall under permitted development?

The following projects never fall within permitted development rights:

  • Balconies
  • Verandas
  • Raised platforms
  • Two storey side extensions within 7m of a rear boundary
  • Extensions with eaves higher than 3m (within 2m of a boundary)
  • Extensions exceeding 50% of the original land around the original house
  • Eaves and a ridge of a loft higher than the height of the original house
  • Extensions over 4m tall or exceeding 50% of the width of the original house
  • Extensions at the front of the house
  • Side extensions on designated land
  • Unobscured side windows above ground floor
  • Loft windows that can open when positioned less than 1.7m from the floor

How can an architect help?

Whatever you’re hoping to build, your architect is likely to be able to make a few small changes that shift your plans within permitted development rights.

Even though you can build without applying for a lawful development certificate, it can be extremely risky. On the off-chance that your plans aren’t actually compliant with permitted development, you may have to remove your extension at your own expense or proceed with a lengthy and expensive legal battle over who is to blame.

Our affordable Planning Package can be used to guide you through the process for start to finish, so you know that your home is in safe hands!

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