Planning permission for work on a residential property explained

What is planning permission?

Planning departments control the use of land and what's built on it. It's enforced by local planning authorities (LPAs).

Under certain circumstances householders may need to apply for planning permission when considering building an extension, converting a loft space and even paving a front garden. 

If you build without first gaining permission you can be legally forced to have the building restored to its original state.
Most extensions, loft conversions and hard landscaping won't require planning permission, guidelines and details on this page.

Anyone can apply for planning permission and there are two types of permission you can apply for - outline and full.

  1. Outline permission for a new building you can submit an outline planning application to check whether it's acceptable in principle. Permission  lasts for three years.
  2. Full permission Full planning permission lasts for three years and  work should normally start within three years or you may need to reapply.

What is the difference between building regulations and planning permission is explained below.

Do I need planning permission for a loft extension or conversion

You may not require planning permission, provided the loft conversion is the first extension and does not exceed 40 cubic metres on a terraced property and 50 cubic metres on others and your house is not in a conservation Area or at the junction of two public highways

 

Planning permission is required where you extend or alter the roof space and it exceeds specified limits and conditions.

Under regulations that came into effect from 1 October 2008 a loft conversion for your home is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:

 

  • A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres for terraced houses
  • A volume allowance of 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.
  • No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts the highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
  • Roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back, as far as practicable, at least 20cm from the eaves.

Building regulations approval is required to convert a loft or attic into a live-able space. You will need to gain building regulation approval for your conversion, probably need the services of an architect and certainly have to comply with fire regulations at every point in the construction of your loft conversion. 

Do I need planning permission for an extension to a house

Extensions to your house ( not flats, maisonettes or other buildings) will not normally require planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions: 

  • No more than half the area of land around the "original house"* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres beyond the rear wall for an attached house and four metres beyond the rear wall for a detached house.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres beyond the rear wall including ground floor.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Two-storey extensions no closer than seven metres to rear boundary.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
  • On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
  • On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
  • On designated land no side extensions.

Do I need planning permission to build a Conservatory.

Adding a conservatory to your house does not normally require planning permission, subject to the limits and conditions listed below.

  • No more than half the area of land around the "original house"* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres for an attached house and four metres for a detached house.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
  • Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres including ground floor.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • On designated land* no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey; no cladding of the exterior; no side extensions.

What is the difference between building regulations and planning permission

The main differences are these:

  • Building regulations set standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure the safety and health for people in or about those buildings. They also include requirements to ensure that fuel and power is conserved and facilities are provided for people, including those with disabilities, to access and move around inside buildings. More about building regulation.
  • Planning seeks to guide the way our towns, cities and countryside develop. This includes the use of land & buildings, the appearance of buildings, landscaping considerations, highway access and the impact that the development will have on the general environment.