Permitted Development

Key information
  • Permitted development rights only apply to houses
  • There are no limits to how many developments you can make, however you may only add 1 extension
  • Permitted development rights apply to existing buildings on agricultural land as long as the land is 5 hectares or more

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are a form of automatic planning permission that allows the improvement and/or extension of buildings without the need to submit a planning application. The alternative to planning applications means you don't need to go through the complex planning process of submitting an application, waiting for approval and adhering to a 3-year cut-off. 

When and where do permitted development rights apply?

Permitted development rights apply to residential houses whether it's a small cottage or large country home, however, if you intend to develop blocks of flats, maisonettes or any other buildings, you will need to apply for planning permission. Your home's location can also affect your property's eligibility. In some 'designated areas' restrictions are in place that limit permitted development. For instance, if you live in:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site or
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

you will need to apply for planning permission.

Different development requirements also apply to listed buildings. Most listed buildings will most likely need listed building consent to carry out any works, even if the works would normally be allowed without planning permission. Use Addland Professional to discover if your building or a building you are interested in is listed.

Whilst there are no limits to how many developments you can make under permitted development rights, you may only add 1 extension. If an extension has been added since the 1st of July 1948 you may not carry out any additional development without applying for planning permission. Transactions of the property also play no role in whether or not you may build further. Therefore if you are purchasing a property with the hope of developing without planning it is your responsibility to discover what work has been undertaken already. Use Addland Professional research tool to view all current and historic applications for planning permission.

What can be built using permitted development rights?

Residential Permitted Development
There are specific regulations that you need to adhere to within different types of developments. However, common projects can give you an idea of what sort of development will fall within the bounds of permitted development:

To further explore the legislation on these common projects, refer to the relevant class in Schedule 2 of the town and country planning act 2015.

1. Loft conversions (Class B)
Loft conversions are one of the most popular additions to residential properties, providing increased living space through additional storeys or increased floor space. So long as the loft conversion is no higher than the highest part of the roof, and the same material as the rest of the building it will be eligible. Terraced houses also have volume allowance limits of 40 cubic meters for loft conversions.

2. Add a single-storey extension (Class A)
The extension of homes is another popular permitted development type. For extensions, fitting within the depth, height and roof pitch parameters is crucial to adhering to permitted development rules. Some of these include:

  • The extension cannot extend past the rear wall by 3 meters for an attached property or 4 meters for detached houses.
  • It must take up less than half of the land surrounding the original house.
  • Must be less than 4m in height or 3m if it's within 2 meters of a boundary.
    • A height of 4 meters for the extension is allowed 2 meters from the boundary providing the extension has a dual-pitched roof.
    • Single-storey extensions larger than this are subject to a neighbour consultation scheme.

3. Install a garden room (Class E)
Garden room additions were particularly popular during the Covid-19 pandemic. They are definitely a viable development without planning permission, providing they take up less than half the space of the piece of land surrounding the original dwelling. They must also be smaller than either 15sqm or 30sqm depending on the development.

4. Replace windows and doors (Class A)
Replacing windows and/or doors is almost always possible without applying for planning permission. However the new instalments must either maintain or improve the building’s insulation, and the style and building materials need to be similar to that of the existing building.

5. Two-storey rear extension (Class A)
Much like single-storey extensions, two-storey extensions need to adhere to the complex planning rules of permitted development. Because of this, you will likely need to seek development guidance before pursuing a larger extension. Some of these limitations mean the extension:

  • Can be no more than 3m beyond the rear wall
  • Must be within 7m from the property boundary (10m in Scotland and 10.5m in Wales)
  • Must be less than 4m high.

6. Installing solar panels (Class A)
In most cases, the installation of solar panels falls under permitted development. However, if either of the following applies, you will need to apply for planning permission:

  • The solar panels protrude more than 20cm from the external surface
  • The maximum height of the solar panels is higher than the maximum height of the roof

7. Build a shed (Class E)
Garden sheds are also almost always allowed to be built without the need for a planning grant. However, in most cases, the floor area of the shed must be less than 15 meters.

Agricultural Permitted Development

Multiple permitted development rules apply to existing buildings on agricultural land. If your farm is more than 5 hectares you have the right to: 

  • erect, extend or alter a building 
  • Carry out excavations and engineering operations needed for agricultural purposes.

These rights apply to:

  • land being temporarily used
  • agricultural buildings below a certain size
  • forestry buildings
  • caravan sites and related buildings in some circumstances.

Landowners can also rent out temporary accommodation in the form of a maximum of 60 camping pitches, with an increase to the number of days per year from 28 to 60 as of the 26th July 2023. Limits to the rights include if your property lies within the curtilage of:

  • Listed building 
  • SSSI
  • Scheduled monument 

See your land's proximity to these considerations with to the meter accuracy on Addland.

Like exercising residential rights, checking with your Local Planning Authority (LPA) will give you confidence if you are unsure if your agricultural development can be pursued under permitted development. Alternatively, review the Agricultural Document Library (AdLib) guide on permitted development for agricultural uses and forestry for further details. If you are looking to buy an agricultural plot where you may be able to exercise your permitted development rights, use Addland's free-to-use land marketplace and gain access to thousands of active agricultural, residential, development and commercial land listings, as well as specific barn conversion opportunities.

Prior Approval

Some permitted developments may need prior approval so planning officers can assess the implications of the construction. This may sound like the planning permission process but the application turnaround is much faster, and it can help to reassure that your development is legitimate. Developments that may need prior approval include single or double-storey extensions slightly larger than what is automatically allowed with permitted development rights (8m for a detached dwelling, 7m on any other house). The approval process allows your LPA to consider the proposals, their implications and how these may be mitigated.

How can I be sure that permitted development rights apply to my house?

Analysing common projects for both residential and agricultural properties can be a useful process in deciphering what sort of project is likely to fall under permitted development. But with the high costs involved in developing many want a guarantee against fines and/or demolitions. To feel more secure about your development and to generally be better prepared, speaking to professionals, applying for a lawful development certificate and using a planning consultancy calculator can help.

Speak to professionals
Speaking to your LPA or a planning consultant can give you the technical guidance necessary to have a proper understanding of development feasibility, costs, and the risks of overstepping permitted development rights in your project. It may be tempting to skip to the construction stage of development, but taking the time to speak to a professional will leave you better off in the long run, and give you the best chance of avoiding hefty fines and/or demolition.

Lawful Development Certificate
Applying for an LDC from the planning department is also possible. This can go a long way to putting both yourself and planning officers at ease as it proves authority providing your development fulfils only the proposed plans. An LDC is especially helpful if you believe you are exempt from planning action being taken in your area. Use the planning portals guide to LDCs for further detail.

Planning consultancy calculator
Getting an idea of planning costs without having to pay consultancy fees can reassure you of the likely costs of your proposed project. Studio Charrette's free planning consultancy calculator indicates likely costs and allows you to budget accordingly.

Published: 26 October 2022
Last updated: 22 August 2023

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Frequently asked questions about permitted development rights: