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What do you need planning permission for?

It's all in the planning! Planning permission is the legal process to determine whether proposed development projects should be permitted. The responsibility for planning lies with local planning authorities (usually the planning department of the district or borough council). Decisions on whether to grant planning permission are made in line with national guidance (in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local planning policies set out by the local authority.

Planning permission may play an important part of building your dream home or carrying out a large renovation, conversion or extension project. Getting planning permission can be a long and sometimes stressful process, as planning regulation is complicated. It’s certainly worth beginning your planning journey by ascertaining if you project requires permission or not.

When Do I Need Planning Permission?

If your project involves the creation of a new dwelling (by either building from scratch or subdividing an existing home), then planning permission is normally required. Larger outbuildings or extensions or builds/improvements in Designated Areas or involving listed buildings, are also likely to require planning permission. Smaller additions and improvements can normally be made under Permitted Development.

Permitted Development

Some projects are classed as Permitted Development (PD), meaning that there is an implied consent to carry them out. It should be noted that there are limitations to PD rights, especially if you live in a Conservation Area (or similar), a listed building or if you have already undertaken a number of improvements to your home.


An addition or extension to your house* is generally considered to be permitted development. So, you won’t need to go through the additional hassle of getting planning permission as long as:

  • Your extension is no more than half the area of land around the original house (curtilage). The “original house” is seen as it was in 1948; after this date how it was newly built

  • Your extension is not forward of the principal elevation or side elevation onto a highway

  • Your extension is not higher than the highest part of the roof

  • In the case of single storey extensions, it must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three metres if an attached house or by four metres if a detached house

  • The maximum height of your single-storey rear extension is not higher than four metres

  • Extensions of more than one storey do not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three metres

  • Side extensions are single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house

  • Two-storey extensions are no closer than seven metres to rear boundary

  • The materials are similar in appearance to the existing house

  • Your extension does not include verandas, balconies or raised platforms

  • Any upper-floor, side-facing windows are obscure-glazed; any opening is 1.7m above the floor

Conservatories are categorised the same as any other extension, as set out above.

*Different rules apply to flats and maisonettes.

There are also different planning restrictions for designated areas such as Conservation Areas and if your property is listed. So check with your Local Planning Authority

(Source: Homeowners Alliance).

Building a new dwelling

Planning permission for self-build either comes with the plot or can be applied for before or after purchasing the land. Planning permission is associated with the land, rather than the applicant and you can make a purchase subject to planning permission. Some agreements of this nature can incur legal fees. We would always recommend that you seek the help of professional architects and planning consultants – a team who have a thorough understanding of the planning permission process and all the complexities surrounding such a process. You may also want to familiarise yourself with the planning permission stages.

How Much Does Planning Permission Cost?

The cost is currently £462 for a full application for a new single dwelling in England, but this fee is different in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For home improvers, an application in England for an extension currently costs £206, whereas in Wales the cost of a typical householder application is currently £190.

And finally, regardless of whether you need planning permission, it’s essential that any building work complies with Building Regulations. You also need to be aware that if you have a shared party wall with your neighbour, you may require a party wall agreement.

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