When Do You Need Planning Permission?

planning permission

Courtesy of Newark & Sherwood District Council

Planning is a complex world and, if you have had no experience with it, it can seem overwhelming. A common question that people have in relation to planning is whether they need planning permission to make a change to their property. As there are so much laws and regulations to familiarize yourself with, of course it can be hard sometimes to work out what applies to your specific situation.

To help you find out if you actually do need to make a planning application based on your proposed change to your property, we have compiled a list of common domestic projects where you may or may not have to apply for planning permission. This will give you an idea quickly and save you from having to wade through any legal documents. However, the rules are complex and this is only a general guide so you should always take advice before going ahead.

Extension/Addition to your House

An extension or addition to your house is considered to be permitted development (i.e. a change that you can make to your house without needing to make a planning application), subject to the following conditions:

  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m if an attached house or by 4m if a detached house.
  • In addition, outside Article 1(5) designated land and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the limit is increased to 6m if an attached house and 8m if a detached house until 30 May 2016. These increased limits (between 3m and 6m and between 4m and 8m respectively) are subject to the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of 4m.
  • Extensions of more than one storey must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within 2m of the boundary of 3m.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of 4m and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Two-storey extensions no closer than 7m to rear boundary.
  • Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • Upper-floor, side-facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.
  • On designated land no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey.
  • On designated land no cladding of the exterior.
  • On designated land no side extensions.

The term “original house” means the house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date). Although you might not have built an extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.

Article 1(5) designated land includes National Parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Areas and World Heritage Sites.

Roof Alteration

You do not normally need to apply for planning permission to re-roof your house or to insert roof lights or skylights as the permitted development rules allow for roof alterations subject to a number of conditions:

  • Any alteration to project no more than 150mm from the existing roof plane.
  • No alteration to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Side facing windows to be obscure-glazed; any opening to be 1.7m above the floor.

Building a Garage

Garages or outbuildings (as they are referred to within official planning documentation) can normally be built in your garden or in the land around your house without the need to apply for planning permission. However, this is subject to the following set of conditions:

  • No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation.
  • Outbuildings and garages to be single storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5m and maximum overall height of 4m with a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other roof.
  • Maximum height of 2.5m in the case of a building, enclosure or container within 2m of a boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 metres from house to be limited to 10 square metres.
  • On designated land buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission.
  • Within the curtilage of listed buildings any outbuilding will require planning permission.

Building a Fence, Wall or Gate

You will need to apply for planning permission if you wish to build or add to a fence, wall or gate and:

  • it would be over 1m high and next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway); or over 2m high elsewhere; or
  • your right to put up or alter fences, walls and gates is removed by an article 4 direction or a planning condition; or
  • your house is a listed building or in the curtilage of a listed building; or
  • the fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage.

You will not need to apply for planning permission to take down a fence, wall, or gate, or to alter, maintain or improve an existing fence, wall or gate (no matter how high) if you do not increase its height. Demolition or alteration of fences, walls or gates might need conservation area or listed building consent.

Building a Patio or Driveway

There are no restrictions on the area of land which you can cover with hard surfaces at, or near, ground level. Hard surfaces between the principal elevation and a highway of over 5 sq m have to be porous or run off to a permeable area. However, significant works of embanking or terracing to support a hard surface might need planning permission.

Listed buildings

Note that works to a listed building require listed building consent separate from any planning permission.

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