Understanding Permitted Development Rights

An extension is a great way to add extra space to your home and make it look even more attractive. But this kind of project needs more than financial and structural plans. Submitting your design to your local authority for permission costs money and takes time. However, there are ways to extend your property without planning permission, and it’s completely legal. They’re called permitted development rights. 

What is permitted development?

Home extension plans - Permitted development
Home extension plans – Permitted development

Permitted development rights allow you to extend your detached, terraced or semi house without needing to apply for planning permission. Housing development has been encouraged for several years now and up until May 2019 homeowners enjoyed massive liberties when it came to extensions.  

Even though the rights set in 2015 have now expired, authorities haven’t changed much – or at least made nothing worse – for people wanting to add more room to their home. In fact, the news released so far seem to benefit developers, despite still having to be careful about dimensions and property types. 

Flats, maisonettes, converted houses and other property types are still not covered. They’re gradually including small businesses, but the rights for commercial properties differ from residential.  

In both cases, you’ll still have paperwork to deal with and building plans aren’t completely free of regulations. You just won’t have to spend so much money or worry about having your application rejected – provided you’re within the right limits. 

Paperwork to expect 

Your permitted development rights are a given, but you may want to get extra security during this transition period. While checking with your local council about where these rights stand, you may want to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. It comes at a fee, but this piece of paper officially confirms that your building plans comply with all regulations. Handy to have! 

All you need is: 

  • The application form 
  • Proof of the information provided 
  • A site location plan 

Another option to keep in mind is a prior notification. This is a kind of permitted development, but it differs from the form described above. You provide the local planning authority with information about your extension – ideally, before it begins. Expect much more scrutiny, but the whole process also gives a better understanding of your project’s ins and outs. 

What size extension can you build under permitted development? 

Home extension dimensions - Permitted development
Home extension dimensions – Permitted development

Expect more and more changes to come into play after the rights expired on 30 May 2019. But here’s some good news to get you motivated: 

  • You’re now fully entitled under Class A to build a single-storey rear extension of up to 8 metres for your detached house – it’s 6 metres for a semi or terrace 
  • You can do a loft conversion alongside the extension. However, restrictions apply to how much of the land the whole house can take up 

Beyond these new points, the same rules have applied so far. But make sure to do your research or get professional advice before starting anything. Here are some common restrictions you may come across. 

  • Permitted development allows you one extension, provided the building hasn’t been altered since 1 July 1948. For Northern Ireland, it’s 1 October 1973. 
  • Work like adding a veranda or chimney doesn’t count as an extension 
  • The property – including the new extension, outbuilding and so on – can’t take up more than 50% of the land 
  • The extension should be no more than one storey or 3 metres in height. To be more specific, it can’t exceed the highest point of the roof 
  • It also can’t face a road, reach beyond an elevation or take up more than half the garden 
  • If it’s a side extension, it can’t be wider than the width of half the house 
  • The building materials – stones, paint and anything else used – must create the same appearance as the rest of the house. This doesn’t apply for conservatories 
  • The roof pitch of the construction shouldn’t differ from that of the existing house  
  • A rear extension can’t be greater than 3 metres for a terraced or semi house and 4 metres for a detached 
  • If the extension is to reach within 2 metres of the property’s boundary, the eaves of the house can’t be over 3 metres in height 
  • If you want a two-storey extension, you can’t do it within 7 metres of the property’s rear boundary 

The list of official restrictions for extensions, additions and alterations can go on and on. Careful preparation, however, can help you evade them, safely and legally. Also, knowing the history of your property since 1948 ensures you won’t exceed limits already reached by previous owners. 

Check restrictions for your region 

Home extension plans - Permitted development
Home extension plans – Permitted development

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have their own permitted development guidelines, so make sure you’re checking the right ones for where you live. Different rules also apply if your property is on a particular kind of area, such as: 

  • National Parks 
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 
  • Conservation areas 
  • World Heritage Sites 
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads 

And don’t forget that other regulations might be set following the expiration. Get in touch with the right authorities in your area to get a better idea of what’s permitted. 

Check what developments your local planning authorities allow

There may be a huge difference between what you want to build and what you’re allowed to. Whilst you know the regulations, different factors can stand in the way of putting together the loft or orangery of your dreamsYour safest bet is contacting your local authority with your proposals, even though you don’t need to apply for planning permission.  

If you’d like to put your mind at ease, you can apply for a lawful development certificate for your extension. It does cost money, but a fraction of the price of planning permission. This way, you can feel safe that your extension is legal and you’ll have documents to show if you sell in the future. 

This advice should give you an idea about the permitted development rights, but you can never do too much research. Visit the planning portal website and gather as much information as you possibly can. 

Permitted development rights can be a complicated topic. Have any personal experiences to share? Tweet us @Quotatis. 

Electra Nanou

Electra Nanou is a Content Marketing Intern at Quotatis. She writes a range of digital content related to products and services, while striving to make every online experience as pleasant and helpful as possible.