Permitted Development Rights & Rules Guide

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 15th December 2023

If you’re looking to update your property to support your growing family, or to make home improvements to increase its investment value, look no further!

permitted-development-rights-and-rules-guide

This guide is for homeowners in the UK seeking straightforward guidance on permitted development rights, offering a clear and accessible resource for anyone looking to make property changes without the hassle of planning permission.

Keep reading to explore the freedom homeowners have under permitted development rights, a simple way to make changes to your property without the need for planning permission

We cover:

  • What the rules say you can do

  • Whether new builds have permitted development rights

  • How you can stay within the rules

  • If neighbours can object to permitted development

  • Whether you need a lawful development certificate

What are permitted development rights?

The definition included in Gov.uk’s Permitted Development Rights for Householders Technical Guidance is as follows:

Permitted development rights allow householders to improve and extend their homes without the need to apply for planning permission where that would be out of proportion with the impact of works carried out.”

This means there are certain works you can carry out on your home without the nuisance of applying for planning permission and everything that entails, including telling your neighbours about your plans and giving them opportunity to object.

These automatic rights exist because they are drawn from general planning permission rules granted by the Government, not a local authority. 

What are the rules on permitted development?

Although more development options have been extended to homeowners through the changes, there are still rules and design guidelines that need to be followed. This is why it is still a good idea to get advice from an architect before bringing in the builders to work on your development plans.

Permitted development doesn’t mean you can go ahead without careful planning and consultation. 

There are limits to the size of extensions and their street view appearance. The rules around ensuring permitted developments are in line with the feel of a street are strict. You need to follow rules ensuring you make no negative impact to your neighbours, such as blocking or spoiling their views and restricting their light.

If you don’t meet the specific rules around permitted development, you might still need to apply for planning permission to get your project off the ground.

Also, works that exceed 100 square metres of floor space in total may have to pay charges under the community infrastructure levy.

Do new builds have permitted development rights?

These common planning rights apply to houses, but do not apply to the following property types:

  • Flats

  • Maisonettes

  • Commercial properties (they have different rights to residential buildings)

In some areas of the country certain restrictions are placed on permitted development rights.

These apply if you live in a:

  • Conservation area

  • A national park

  • An area of Outstanding National Beauty

  • A world Heritage Site

  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads`

Different requirements for planning permission are also in place for listed buildings.

If you have any doubt, your best bet is contact your local authority and they will let you know whether you can go ahead under permitted development, if you need planning permission, or if you cannot do the work you’ve planned, for whatever reason

Permitted development rules in 2023

There were initial changes to permitted development rules in August 2020 which meant you could change your home to a greater extent without the need for planning permission. 

These included from 31st August 2020, that householders were able to boost upward extensions up to two stories, on existing postwar-built homes. The new rights were available to homes above terraces, offices and shops, without the need for planning permission.

In 2022, more development options were given to property developers without the need for planning permission. Bigger projects and different development options are available to properties that qualify, which include turning office blocks into flats. However, our focus in this guide is on what you can do as a homeowner and some exclusions apply to the changes made last year.

The following are excluded from 2022s new rights:

  • Homes in Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland

  • Listed buildings

  • Flats or maisonettes

  • Certain new developments

Can the local planning authority remove permitted development rights?

Yes, local planning authorities can remove permitted development rights in a number of scenarios.

If a proposed development falls outside the scope of permitted development, it won’t be granted. We’ve listed the excluded property types above and as we’ve mentioned, there are strict rules to follow around ensuring that the plans are in keeping with the neighbourhood.

Local authorities can also deny permitted development plans through the issue of Article 4, which we’ll go into more detail on below. Other articles in the General Permitted Development Order 2015, itself an amendment to The Town and Country Planning General Development Order and Development Charge Applications Regulations 1950 ─ the wider set of regulations that govern permitted developments ─ give local authorities the right to deny permission.

Local authorities can also block permission through a planning condition. However, the National Planning Policy Framework update in July 2021 set out that:

planning conditions should not be used to restrict national permitted development rights unless there is clear justification to do so.”

If you have any condition imposed on your development plans by a local authority, you should seek advice from a legal expert to determine whether you have a case. To many in the property industry, it’s clear that local authorities are still trying to get their heads around the new permitted development rules, and sometimes the rules add an unnecessary headache to homeowners. 

In some cases, it might be worth homeowners exploring planning permission over permitted development, especially if when development plans are particularly complex.

How to comply with permitted development rules?

Permitted development rules leave a lot of leeway for homeowners to improve their homes without needing planning permission. Building work within permitted development rules need to meet standards and limits, yet there is a lot of space within these limits for homeowners to find solutions.

It’s usually worth considering your permitted development rights first as there are a lot of home improvements you can make relatively easily.

When pursuing permitted development, you will need to comply with the rules under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Guidance on interpreting and complying with these rules can be found in the Government’s Permitted development rights for householders: technical guidance.

Reading this guidance will ensure you have an appreciation and understanding of how permitted development rules apply to your specific development proposal.

If in doubt, a legal property expert can help you.

What do permitted development rights include?

Permitted development allows the following to be built without planning permission:

  • Rear extensions

  • Two storey extensions

  • Side extensions

  • Loft conversions

  • Garage conversions

  • Porches, garden rooms and outbuildings

  • External render and cladding rules

  • Change of use – business to residential

  • New storey, new flat

Can neighbours object to permitted development?

A neighbour can raise an objection with your local planning authority if they believe your plans fall out of what’s allowed under permitted development, or your development is causing them to lose natural light.

Your local planning authority will investigate if they believe there is cause to do so, but if your plans fall within permitted development guidelines, then you’ll be free to carry on with your project and your neighbours won’t be able to prevent your extension.

If your local authority finds your plans are within permitted development guidelines, you won’t have to apply for planning permission or change your plans.

What is an article 4 direction?

As alluded to, local authorities have the right to restrict permitted development rights under an Article 4 direction. This refers explicitly to Article 4 of the GDPO. They might take this action if they believe your plans will change the character of a neighbourhood.

Local authorities under article 4 can:

  • Remove specified permitted development rights related to operational development or change of use

  • Remove permitted development rights with temporary or permanent effect

Its also worth knowing that the National Policy Framework advises that Article 4 be applied in a measurable and targeted way and that its application should be “based on robust evidence and apply to the smallest geographical area possible.”

When your permitted development plans have been stopped by Article 4, all is not lost - you can still propose your plans under planning permission. It’s worth knowing in this instance, that you don’t have to pay an application fee when your development rights have been stopped by article 4.

Do I need a lawful development certificate for permitted development?

No, a lawful development certificate is not necessary to express your permitted development rights but may provide helpful reassurance that your development will not require planning permission down the line.

Permitted development and the Party Wall Act?

Permitted development rights do not overrule the requirements of other building regulations, such as the Party Wall Act 1996.

This piece of legislation applies to houses in England and Wales; it was designed to protect the integrity of shared walls in adjoining properties and can be called on to restrict permitted development plans which could threaten the stability of properties.

The act can be used to prevent neighbour disputes over permitted development plans.

If you do have a wall that is classified as a party wall in your property, you may still be able to continue your planned works, but you will need to provide your neighbour with a Party Wall Notice, each sign a Party Wall Agreement and get planning permission for your project.

Use our property expertise to reach your property goals

Ready to turn your property dreams into reality? Connect with a trusted solicitor at Lawhive for expert guidance on permitted development rights, seamless property changes, and hassle-free planning permission. Let's make your vision a legal reality – reach out to our solicitors today!

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