If you’re hoping to add an extension to your home in order to create more space for your family or to accommodate an elderly relative, it’s important to understand when planning permission is required and when the work will be classed as ‘permitted development’. There’s no doubt that planning regulations can be extremely complex, especially for the uninitiated, so it is helpful to be clear on the regulations. And above all, it’s vital to take professional advice on whether permitted development applies or whether planning permission will be required before any work is started. Carrying out any development work without the necessary planning consent is not recommended as the local authority can issue an enforcement notice to compel you to undo all the changes that you’ve made. If you find that you will need to apply for planning permission, See our Top Tips for Quick Planning Permission Approval.
In general, adding an extension to your property is likely to be considered as permitted development so you can avoid the perils of planning permission assuming your plans meet the following criteria:
- Your extension will not occupy more than half of the land surrounding your original property. For the purposes of planning consent, the original property is taken to be as it was in 1948, and if constructed after that date it’s taken to be the configuration when it was first built.
- Your extension will not be forward of the main or side elevation onto a highway.
- Your extension will not be higher than the existing roof’s highest point.
- If it’s single storey, your extension will not extend beyond the back wall of the existing house by more than three metres in the case of an attached property or four metres in the case of a detached property. In addition, its overall height will need to be no greater than four metres and its width no larger than half the width of the original house.
- If you’re planning a two-storey extension it will need to avoid extending more than three metres beyond the rear of the existing property and it must be further than seven metres from the rear boundary.
- Your extension will feature materials that match the appearance of the current structure and avoids additions such as a veranda, a balcony or a raised platform.
- Any side facing windows in an upper floor will have obscure glazing.
Similar stipulations apply to other additions such as garages, sheds, and greenhouses, but it’s worth remembering that any outbuilding must also take up less than 50% of the available land around the existing house.
Other modifications that are treated as permitted development include paving over the front garden (as long at the material you’ll be using is porous) and changing doors and windows. The exception to this is if the building is listed, as that will require liaison with the planning department to acquire listed building consent, and it’s usually necessary for Building Control to approve the new windows. Minor enhancements such as inserting a skylight or repainting the exterior are acceptable under permitted development unless the property is listed, and if it’s located in a conservation area or an area of outstanding natural beauty you will need permission to alter the appearance of your home. Permitted development also covers adding a porch to the front of your property, as long as its size does not exceed three cubic metres.
Looking at more obscure improvements, it’s not necessary to obtain planning permission to erect a temporary wind turbine, but you will need planning consent if your heart is set on a permanent one. From an environmental perspective, solar panels do not require planning permission, again unless the property is listed. Permitted development does not cover fences, gates or walls that are next to a road and more than one metre in height or away from a road but over two metres high. You will also need permission to prune or remove any tree that’s protected by a tree preservation order, while a hedge can grow to any height but is the responsibility of the homeowner to control its growth to avoid disagreements with the neighbours.
Moving indoors, most improvements such as new kitchens, new bathrooms, garage conversions and loft conversions are regarded as permitted development and do not therefore require planning permission.
Sergio Mesen of Bristol builders, Refresh Renovations, believes that, irrespective of the plans for improving your property, it’s always advisable to consult a specialist before embarking on any project. ‘At Refresh we have lots of experience of extensions and other home renovations so we understand what is and isn’t possible under permitted development. The penalties for infringing planning regulations can be punitive and can ultimately incur heavy costs if the property needs to be returned to its original state so we’re always happy to consult with our clients to ensure that they fully understand the position regarding planning permission. By spending time planning the project and creating a design that delivers exactly what the client is hoping for but which complies with planning law, we know that we’ll be on track to guarantee that we meet everyone’s expectations.’
You may be interested in reading: Extending to Add Value
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