Can I Extend Without Planning Permission?

Spending more time at home?

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, a large number of UK residents have been forced to work from home for the past 12 months. Despite Boris’ recent promising announcement of a ‘roadmap to freedom’, many of us have become resigned to the fact that this may be our new normal for the foreseeable future.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, the past year has given some of us the chance to step back from our busy lives and spend more time at home with our loved ones. That being said, we’ve been forced to take a look at our homes, and question if we’re happy with what we see. For some of us, staring at the same four walls for months on end has inspired us to pick up a paintbrush, and invest our time and energy into decorating the home we’re forced to spend more time in.

Although some homeowners took to DIY, the home improvement craze saw residential trades such as plasterers, electricians, painters and decorators becoming more sought after than ever. So much so, that in July 2020 the construction industry experienced a nationwide plaster shortage that went on for almost three months.

In 2021, the renovation trend doesn’t appear to be dying out. However, creating more space in the home has become the next big issue. For example, some office staff who cannot go into their place of work, or students unable to visit schools and universities, have been forced to find a quiet space at home to complete tasks or attend meetings and classes via zoom. Finding this quiet space can be difficult, especially if you have a full house of young children or loud pets (or vice versa).

Don’t worry, you have options!

The first one being; have a house reshuffle. Change things up a bit by moving some furniture around and allocate a quiet space to each family member. You could also have a discussion with your family where you designate ‘quiet hours’ each day that you must all adhere to. However, this isn’t always an option, especially if young children are involved.

So let’s move on to option number two; move! A bigger home may be exactly what you need, and if you have the time and money to do this then take your time to look online at prospective homes. Most estate agencies are still open, with many conducting viewings online for those unable to attend in person. But for whatever reason, moving home may also be off the cards.

This leads us on to our topic of conversation; extending! You may be thinking that extending your home is a massive inconvenience, and that obtaining planning permission alone can be an expensive headache. But what if you didn’t need to have planning permission? That’s right! Depending on your extension, you may qualify for ‘permitted development’.


But what are permitted development rights?

In the UK, we’re lucky enough to have Parliamentary legislation that can cut all of the red tape surrounding planning permission. The rights differ for Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015. Permitted development rights came into force on the 15th April 2015, and are described on the website as follows:

‘Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application. Permitted development rights are subject to conditions and limitations to control impacts and to protect local amenity.’

Each property needs to verify what their permitted development rights are, as these can differ from property to property. For the purpose of this article we will be discussing single storey, rear extensions. For example, if you live in a detached house and would like to extend from the rear of your original house, you may extend up to 4 metres out. You may wish to extend up to 8 metres from your original house, although this will be subject to a neighbour consultation scheme. Similarly, semi-detached or terraced houses may be allowed to extend up to 3 metres, or 6 metres with a successful consultation. In addition, each single storey extension must not exceed 4 metres in height. ‘Original house’ is defined as:

‘The property as it stood on or after 1st July 1948 is in its original form is the basis upon which any extensions will be measured. You cannot extend an extension.’

This being said, just because your neighbour has had an extension without planning permission, you are not automatically entitled to have the same. Each application is judged on its own merits, regardless of how many of your neighbours have built what you want.

It may sound strange, but your local authority can still deny you your Parliamentary permitted development right by issuing an Article 4 Direction. They might do this if your house or area where you live, is in or near a national park, conservation area, site of historical interest, or is or adjacent to a listed building. Also, permitted development rights do not apply to flats, apartments or maisonettes.

If permitted development rights do not apply to your home, don’t worry! You can always apply for planning permission, which can cost as little as £206. For more information on permitted development rights, the Government produced a technical guide which can be downloaded for free by following this link.

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