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Permitted Development Rights Green Belt

Permitted development rights and the green belt


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Last updated Tuesday 23rd February 2021

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Permitted development rights and the green belt are two terms you may have heard in passing, but until you actual get into a big home project, you rarely have to delve into the details of them.

So if you’re currently wondering how building on the green belt might affect your permitted development rights, while also wondering what those rights even are, here’s a little guide to this planning lexicon...

What is green belt land?

Green belt land is often found around larger cities, and is classed as protected open space, intended to maintain areas of forestry and agriculture. They help prevent urban sprawl, protect native wildlife, as well as helping to retain the character of rural communities.

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

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What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are a government scheme that entitles some homeowners to expand their home without the need for a full planning application.

There are many guidelines on which 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, certain homes will be excluded from the scheme, such as listed buildings and flats / maisonettes.

And these are just some of the rules associated with permitted development! For this reason, it’s no wonder why many people are left scratching their heads as to what they can and can’t do under their permitted development rights.

So, do I have permitted development rights on green belt land?

Short answer: yes!

Permitted development rights are only redacted on what is known as Article 2 (3) land. This refers to National Parks, the Broads, an 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, as you’ll likely face push back from a planning permission application, if building out on a green belt.

This being said, to make sure you don’t accidently propose a design that 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 be able to advise on planning. For even though planning permission won’t be required, you should still apply for a lawful development certificate.

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Lawful Development certificate

A lawful development certificate isn’t a legal requirement, but there are incredibly worthwhile to obtain.

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 right change, and is particularly worthwhile in politically charged pieces of land, such as the green belt.

A lawful development certificate is applied for in the 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
  • A fee

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

Learn more about lawful development certificates.


  • Having a home in the green belt does not 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 get an architect on board.

  • For extra security, we also recommend obtaining a lawful development certificate as proof your build is legal.

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