Q I’m selling my house and the buyer wants to build a conservatory. I’m trying to sort it out so the sale goes smoothly. Can he just go ahead and build it or does he need permission?
A Houses have what are called ‘permitted development rights’, which automatically grant planning permission for development within certain limits. The rules are complicated and open to interpretation and give rise to lots of disputes with councils.
House extensions is one category of permitted development. There are different rights for detached houses and other houses, and for conservation area/Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty properties. There are no rights for flats. A conservatory is classed as an extension. There are various size restrictions.
Councils can restrict permitted development rights through planning conditions on permissions or by making a special order called an article 4 direction.
These are just some of the main rules and by now you can perhaps see this is a bit of a minefield. Consequently, we always urge our clients to check with the planning officers – and get confirmation – that the council agrees their proposals come within the permitted development rules. This is exactly what I suggest you do in your circumstances. Get your purchaser to pin down exactly what he wants to build and where, and then speak to a planning officer for an opinion. If the answer is positive, get written confirmation or make a lawful development certificate application.