Planning Permission - A Brief Guide for Home Improvers

Anyone planning to make home improvements should consider whether or not they need planning permission first. Otherwise, they may be in for an unpleasant surprise.

To try and clear up some of the mystery surrounding this often-perplexing issue, Home.co.uk have, in association with Ideal Home Magazine, put together this brief guide to planning permission for home improvers.

When Will I Need Planning Permission?

You will need planning permission if you're building an extension...
  • that will be nearer to any kind of public access (road, footpath etc.) than the nearest part of the original house-unless there will be at least 20m between your extension and the road
  • that will cover more than half the area of land around the original house
  • that is taller than the highest part of the roof of the original house
  • that has any part more than 4m high within 2m of your property's boundary
  • that increases the volume of the original house by more than 15% or 70 cubic metres (whichever is greater)
  • that comes within 5m of another building belonging to your house
  • that seriously overshadows a neighbour's window that has been there for 20 years or more, in which case, you may face objections
  • that's in a conservation area or a listed building

You may also need planning permission if you're planning a loft conversion

  • that includes a dormer window or roof extension that would extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope and is facing a road
  • that will make some part of the house higher than the highest part of the existing roof
  • that will add more than 40 cubic metres to the volume of a terraced house or more than 50 cubic metres to any kind of other house
  • that increases the volume of the original terraced house by more than 10% or 50 cubic metres (whichever is greater), or by more than 15% or 70 cubic metres (whichever is greater) for any other type of house

You won't need planning permission for separate buildings such as sheds, greenhouses, homes for pets, summer houses, swimming pools, ponds, and even sauna cabins don't need permission, unless:

  • they will be nearer to any public access than the nearest part of the original house (unless there's at least 20m between the new building and the access)
  • more than half the area of land around the original house will be covered by extensions or other buildings
  • the new building is more than 3m high or more than 4m high if it has a ridged roof

How To Get Planning Permission

Phone your local council's planning department to ask if you need to apply, and whether they can foresee any difficulties that could be overcome were you to amend your proposal. They will then send you an application form, which you should return to them, together with the correct fee, a plan of the site and a copy of the drawings, showing the work you propose to carry out. Your application will be placed on the Planning Register at the council's offices for any interested member of the public to inspect. Your application will then be considered, and you should have a decision within eight weeks. If your application is refused, ask the planning department if changing your plans might make a difference. You may be able to submit another application with modified plans free of charge within 12 months of the decision on your first application. If you decide to appeal, you must do so within 3 months of the council's decision.

For More Information

Check out the Government's guidelines at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister https://www.gov.uk/browse/housing-local-services/planning-permission.

Ideal Home, Britain's best-selling homes magazine, is a complete guide to creating and enjoying a beautiful home, packed with great ideas including makeovers, affordable tips, re-designs and useful help and advice.

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