Householders currently enjoy significant permitted development rights which largely remove the need to apply for planning permission for someone looking to alter or extend their home within certain ‘permitted development’ levels.
Under Planning legislation as a general rule all developments require planning permission. However, certain types of development are low impact and it is considered unnecessary for those people wishing to carry out such developments to make an application for planning permission. The permitted development rights therefore save time and resources by ‘automatically’ allowing certain types of development thereby reducing the burden on the householder and council alike. .
The General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) is made by the Secretary of State for the Environment and in effect deems planning permission as granted for certain types of development which would otherwise be the subject of an individual planning application to the local authority who would determine whether planning permission should be granted.
If a householder has already carried out permitted development, how much further development is permitted without the need for planning permission will often depend on the extent to the property has already been extended.
These rights relate to houses only and do not extend to flats and there are also certain other restrictions on permitted development rights. For example, if you live in a Conservation Area, permitted development rights are varied so as to restrict permitted development and a Local Authority may also seek to override the GPDO in other situations where they wish to retain control of development. Listed Buildings are also excluded from development under permitted development rights.
On 1 October 2008 changes made to the Permitted Development Rights came into force. The new regulations which are derived from the 2008 General Permitted Development Order relate to the development of houses and include amongst other things a restriction on the size of outbuildings in gardens, windows in side elevations, including in roof extensions, the laying of hard standings in front gardens (to preserve the amount of open ground that can absorb surface water in view of recent flooding) and the height of soil vents!
Full details about the changes to permitted development rights and to planning legislation generally can be found on your local authority website. It has been suggested that the changes will allow greater rights to develop than previously e.g (single storey extensions and loft conversions) but in practice the rules are very detailed and in places complicated.
For example, in the case of a loft conversion, development of a loft space is not permitted under the permitted development rules if the cubic content of the resulting roof space would exceed the cubic content of the original roof by more than 40 cubic metres in the case of a terrace house or 50 cubic metres in any other case; or if the alteration would protrude more than 150 millimetres beyond the plane of the slope of the original roof!
As you can see it is not simply the case to say that you may convert your loft under permitted development rules. It is far more complicated than that. The professionals say that the rules are so detailed and difficult to ascertain that it may still be safer to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development to prove that planning permission was not in fact required. In other words, do not assume that the apparent ‘extension’ in the rules will make things easier as in practice they are still very limited.
We still recommend seeking advice from your local authority before beginning any type of development to your property. If you carry out development to your property without obtaining appropriate planning permission, mistakenly believing they can be carried out under the permitted development rules, you may find yourself having to take down your new extension or being unable to use your newly converted loft for it’s intended purpose!