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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 cover more than half the area of land around the original house*
  • that will project beyond a wall that fronts a highway and is either the principle front or a side elevation of the original house
  • that is taller than the highest part of the roof of the original house
  • that is a single-storey rear extension that extends beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than 3m if an attached house, or by 4m if a detached house. These single-storey rear extension measures have been temporarily doubled until 30 May 2019 and will not require planning permission as long as the local council's planning department has been informed and they are not subject to objections through a neighbour consultation scheme**
  • that has any part more than 4m high and is within 2m of your property's boundary
  • that is a single-story side extension, which is more than 4m high and its width is more than half the width of the original house
  • that is a two-storey development closer than 7m to your rear boundary
  • that is using materials that are not similar in appearance to the existing house
  • that includes verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • that has upper-floor side facing windows that are not obscure glazed
  • that is a two-storey development or side extension in a conservation area, national park, world heritage site or area of outstanding natural beauty.

* the term original house relates to either when the house was first built or as it stood at 1 July 1948, if it was built before that date.
** the neighbour consultation scheme is free and less detailed than applying for planning permission. Those applying need to provide their local council with plans containing information such as distances to boundaries and existing houses as well as proposed elevations and windows. Details of the developer also need to be supplied as will addresses of adjoining neighbours who are then contacted by the council. If neighbours object then planning permission may be refused.

You may also need planning permission if you're planning a loft conversion:
  • 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 extends 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 includes verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • that uses materials that are different in appearance to the existing house
  • that includes side facing windows that are not obscure glazed or 1.7m above the floor
  • that is built in in a conservation area, national park, world heritage site or area of outstanding natural beauty
  • that includes roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, that are not set back at least 20cm from the original eaves
  • that overhangs the outer face of the wall of the original house

You won't need planning permission for outbuildings, such as sheds, greenhouses, homes for pets, summer-houses, swimming pools, ponds, and even sauna cabins don't need permission, unless:
  • they are two storey or above a maximum eaves height of 2.5m or maximum overall height of 4m with a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other type of roof
  • they have verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • they cover more than half the area of land around the original house
  • they are in built in in a conservation area, national park, world heritage site or area of outstanding natural beauty
  • they are a listed building

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 three months of the council's decision.

For More Information

Check out the Government's guidelines at https://www.gov.uk/planning-permission-england-wales

More detailed planning advice can be found at the Planning Portal, a joint venture between the Department for Communities and Local Government and TerraQuest.

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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