Permitted Development- what can you do to your house?

Usually I use my posts to show recently completed projects, but I thought it would be useful to take some time to write some explainers (and perhaps help dispel a few myths!)- and the first is about Permitted Development.

Permitted Development allows home owners to adapt and extend their homes without having to go through the planning process. If your house benefits from PD rights and your proposed project falls within the allowances PD gives, then no one can stop you building it (though you still need to comply with building regulations, may need permission from your drainage provider, and party wall agreements, covenants and other restrictions may potentially be in place), so it can be a simple way to pursue your project and gain that all essential additional space.

Permitted development allows you to add a porch (up to 3 sq m), covert your garage, build a single storey rear extension (up to 4m deep, depending on the type of house you have), a side single storey extension (up to half the width of your existing property), create a small rear first floor extension and to convert and extend your attic (up to 50 cubic metre, depending on your house). It also allows you to build outbuildings, decks, patios and boundary walls, among other things.

So- there’s a lot you can potentially do! Given the space (and budget), you could even do all of the above. An average modest semi detached home of approximately 5m width and 8m depth (80sqm in area), could potentially add 35sq m to the ground floor + a 3sq m porch, 15 sq m to the first floor, convert their loft (including large dormers to the side and rear) and also add large outbuildings to the rear, more than doubling the house square meterage.

Even better- since 2013, there is also potential to build a single storey rear extension up to a whopping EIGHT metres deep (again, depending on the style of your house) via a simplified planning process called Prior Notification which asks your neighbours for their opinion first and foremost.

However (here comes the rub…), NOT all houses have all their PD rights- they might have had some or all of their rights removed or limited. This is typically (though not exclusively) in post 1980 properties, and may also be in place on previous planning permissions for the property. This doesn’t mean you can’t pursue your project- but you’d have to ask permission via a planning application. Listed buildings, flats and maisonettes don’t have PD rights, commercial properties have different PD rights and houses in conservation areas, national parks etc have limits on what they can do under PD.

If you do have rights- there are limits on what you can do with them- for instance- as well as the size and volume limits, materials must be ‘similar in appearance’ to the original house (so you might have to forget that lovely cedar clad dream…) and there are other restrictions to heights (relative to the existing house and to boundaries), additions of decks and balconies etc. Practical considerations may also play a large part in whether PD rights are useful to you- for example, if your house is on a hill, the height limits might be more difficult to comply with because they are taken from ground level. Also, PD allowances are given from the original house- so any previous additions may have absorbed some or all of the potential already.

I offer free initial consultations which often help highlight what and where you can best build under PD and how it might be applicable to your home.

Your PD rights can be checked with your local authority (this is something I can help people do), but the best way to verify your rights and whether your proposal falls within them is to submit a Certificate of Lawful Use which, if granted, is a legally binding document which gives you peace of mind and will be useful when and if you come to sell the property. CLU applications are something I frequently apply for on behalf of home owners. If you are interested in exploring your PD rights get in touch!

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