Do I need planning permission? Advice about permitted development rights

What are permitted development rights?

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called "permitted development rights". They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the Council but by Parliament.

Click here to view interactive householder guidance on permitted development rights for householders

Click here for other self-help guides relating to other common projects

Circumstances where permitted development rights are restricted or removed

Permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings.

In some areas, known generally as 'designated areas', permitted development rights are more restricted. If you live in a Conservation Area or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas (refer to the Local Plan to see if your property is located within one of these areas). There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building (click here to search if your property is listed).

In some areas, permitted development rights may have been withdrawn using an ‘Article 4 Direction’. This will mean that you have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one. Please click here for more information about Article 4 Directions.

In some instances, there may be a planning condition that also restricts permitted development rights. This is typical for more modern housing estates.

Houses created through permitted development rights to change use from shops, financial and professional services premises or agricultural buildings cannot use householder permitted development rights to improve, alter or extend homes: planning permission is required.

Please click here if you want clarification whether planning permission is needed, or not, for a specific proposal or want advice as to whether a proposal is likely to be supported by the Council before submitting a planning application.

Changes to permitted development rights

On the 30th May 2013 changes were made to the types and scale of development that is now considered to be permitted development for the following:

  • Home extensions (outside Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Sites of Special Scientific Interest*),
  • School extensions,
  • Permitted changes of use,
  • Business premises extensions, and
  • Electronic communications infrastructure.

*Please refer to our Local Plan to find out if your property is located within one of these designations.

Home extensions

The Householder Prior Notification Scheme which commenced in 2013 and allowed householders to build larger single-storey rear extensions under permitted development has now been made permanent. These new regulations do not apply if your property is within a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Site of Special Scientific Interest. The size limits double from 4 metres to 8 metres for detached houses, and from 3 metres to 6 metres for all other houses with a height limit for both of no more than 4 metres. These new larger extensions (i.e. if they extend between 4 and 8 metres or between 3 and 6 metres) must go through a ‘Householder Prior Notification’ process. This means that a homeowner wishing to build an extension within these parameters must notify the Council of their intention to build together with supporting details and plans. The Council will then notify neighbouring properties adjoining the site, including to the rear inviting comments within 21 days. If any objection is subsequently received the Council must then decide whether the extension should be approved or not. The development may not be started until the Council has notified the person of its decision or until 42 days has passed without any notification being received. To rely upon this right, the development notification of its completion must be submitted to the Council.

It is important to remember that your extension MUST meet all other parts of the legislation to allow you to qualify for the ‘Prior Notification’ process. Please note that if your proposal fails to meet the criteria of the ‘Prior Notification’ process your paperwork will be returned to you.  You are strongly advised to make a Householder Pre Application Enquiry before your Prior Notification Application which will assess all parts of Class A of the General Permitted Development Order together with the history of your property and advise you of what type of application you will need to make. If you are unsure please see our Advice before making an application page or alternatively you can make an application for a certificate of lawful development.

Please note that as of 25th of May 2019 there will be a fee of £96 for this service.

Householder Prior Notification Form click here to see a flow chart of the ‘Householder Prior Notification’ process
Please note the important disclaimer referred to within this diagram.

Please click here to see a full description of the ‘Householder Prior Notification’ Process and neighbour consultation scheme.

School extensions

In line with the government’s free schools agenda the order allows schools to carry out building works including the erection, extension or alteration of existing buildings and creating new hard surfaces. There is also a separate provision for the relaxation of limits on the building of higher walls and fences on land bordering the highway around schools from 1 metre to 2 metres.

Business premises extensions

The order changes the threshold office buildings can be extended to without needing planning permission from 25% of gross floor space or 50m2 (whichever is lesser) to 50% or 100m2.

Shops, catering, professional or financial services premises will also be able to extend within the same threshold limits however development within 2 metres of the boundary of adjoining land or buildings in residential use is excluded.

The threshold industrial and warehouse buildings can be extended to without needing planning permission increases from 25% of gross floor space or 100m2 (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200m2.

These changes to threshold limits on business extensions expire on 30th May 2016.

Permitted changes of use

In an attempt to stimulate growth, business premises that are currently classed for use as retail, financial services, restaurants, pubs and hot food takeaways, offices, leisure and assembly will be able to temporarily change to a different use within retail, financial services, restaurants and cafes uses. Such a change of use would be valid for a single period of up to two years and the change of use must not affect more than 150m2 of gross floor space.
The order will increase the threshold limit of gross floor space that offices and industrial premises can change to storage premises without needing planning permission from 235m2 to 500m2. The same threshold level of gross floor space will be set for storage premises that can change use to industrial or office premises without planning permission.

A much publicised provision of the order will permit a change of use of an office building to a dwellinghouse. Certain exclusions will apply, for example in the case of listed buildings. Before carrying out work the developer must apply to the Council for a determination as to whether prior approval will be required. Such a determination will include taking into account transport impacts, contamination risks and flood risks. Recent legal commentary has suggested that this change of use will not include new purpose-built office buildings which have never been used as offices because the wording of the order only relates to buildings which have previously been in use as offices prior to or on 30th May 2013.

A further amendment related to the creation of free schools will allow offices, hotels, residential institutions (including secure residential institutions) and assembly and leisure premises to change use to a state-funded school. There are certain conditions on such development and prior approval from the Council will be required. A further provision allows for the change of use of any eligible building to a state-funded school for a single period of one academic year (but only if approved by the relevant Minister).

Prior approval of proposed change of use to state funded school form (link to pdf form on planning portal website in new browser window)

An important change to be brought about by the order relates to the change of use of agricultural buildings. Agricultural buildings will be able to change use class including to retail, restaurants, business, hotels, leisure and assembly. Only agricultural buildings with less than 500m2 of floor space will be eligible for such a change of use and if the change of use relates to more than 150m2 of floor space, prior approval from the Council will be required.

Prior approval of proposed change of use of agricultural building to a flexible use within shops, finance and professional services, restaurants and cafes, business, storage of distribution, hotels or assembly or leisure form (link to pdf form on planning portal website in new browser window)

If prior approval is required as detailed above the order sets out the requirements and who should be consulted.

Electronic communications infrastructure

The order will change the permitted development of electronic communications infrastructure. For a five year period developers carrying out work in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and conservation areas involving the construction, installation and replacement of telegraph poles, cabinets or lines for fixed-line broadband services will not require prior approval from the Council before commencing work, providing the development is completed before 30th May 2018.

Last updated on: 09/05/2019 - 15:03