Do I need planning permission?

As a homeowner, it is natural to want to build and develop your property – whether that’s by building an extension, converting unused space, or putting up a fence. While many works fall under ‘permitted development’ there are rules and exceptions. Underwriter, Tim Slattery, answers some of the commonly asked questions about planning permission.

You can find out if you need planning permission by getting in touch with your local planning authority. It’s likely that you will need planning permission if you want to:

  • Build a new structure
  • Change the purpose of your building
  • Dramatically change the building

If you live in a designated area – such as a listed building, or in an Area of Outstanding Beauty – you will probably need permission before carrying out any building works. If in doubt, it is always best to check before making plans to begin work.

Do I need planning permission for an extension?

If you’re building an extension to your property you may need to get planning permission from your local authority.

While most extensions and additions to homes are considered ‘permitted development’ there are restrictions. Many of these are designed to limit the effect your extension will have on the surrounding area. For example, if your property is attached or semi-detached, there’s a greater chance that you’ll need planning permission before starting any work.

Checking the limits and conditions which can affect your planning permission before works begin will help prevent unnecessary delay and expense later on.

Although your extension might not need planning permission, there are other legal considerations. Most extensions will need Building Regulations approval and may be affected by the Third Party Wall Act. Understanding what you are allowed and not allowed to do before works begin will save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

Do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?

Loft conversions

In normal circumstances, planning permission is not needed to build loft conversions, although there are situations when you might need to apply for permission before you begin the build. These include (but are not limited to):

  • If you want to include a veranda, balcony or raised platform
  • If you want to build a roof extension in a designated area, such as an Area of Outstanding Beauty
  • If your property faces a highway and you want to extend the roof beyond the plane of the existing roof slope

If you are unsure of whether your planned loft conversion is a permitted development, check with your local planning department before beginning any works.

Do I need planning permission for a garage?

As long as the work is internal and does not enlarge your building, planning permission is not usually needed to build a garage inside a house. If you are planning to extend your building to create space for a garage, the same limits and conditions apply as though you were building any other extension.

Garden planning permission

If you plan to build an outbuilding in your garden, this is usually considered permitted development. Again, certain limits and conditions apply, including but not limited to:

  • Garages and outbuildings must have a maximum height of 2.5 metres if they are within two metres of the house
  • Less than half of the area surrounding the house should be covered by additional structures.
  • All outhouses and garages must be single storey

If you live in an Area of Outstanding Beauty, a listed building or a designated area, it is likely you will face to certain restrictions. Check with your local authority to be certain that your planned building is allowed.

– Planning permission for sheds

You do not need planning permission to build a shed, unless the structure is taller than 2.5 metres or you wish to build it closer than two metres from the boundary of your property.

For a full list of restrictions, please follow the technical guidance provided by the government.

– Planning permission for a porch

You do not need planning permission to build a porch, unless your proposed build:

  • Has a ground floor area exceeding three square metres
  • Is partially, or wholly, over three metres above ground level
  • Is in part, or in whole, within two metres of the boundary to your home or a highway

– Planning permission for a fence

You do need planning permission to build a fence, gate or wall that is:

  • Next to a highway and over one metre high
  • Not next to a highway, and over two metres high
  • In – or in the grounds of – a listed building
  • On the boundary of a listed building or its grounds

You do not need planning permission to:

  • Repair an existing fence, wall or gate – regardless of the height
  • Take down a fence, wall or gate (unless it is in a conservation area)

– Maximum fence height without planning permission

If your fence sits next to a highway, you may build a fence, gate or wall up to the height of one metre, without planning permission.

If your fence does not sit next to a highway, you can build a fence, gate or wall up to the height of two metres, without planning permission.

If you’re renovating, extending or altering your home, it’s important to make sure you have permission to carry out the works you have planned. Although retrospective planning permission can be given, why risk your time, resources or money?

If you go ahead with building works and it turns out that planning permission was needed, your local authorities may issue an enforcement notice. This will mean you have to return the land or property to its original state at your own cost.

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