Permitted development rights explained

If you’re improving your home, you could save time and money by avoiding planning permission – find out what's possible under permitted development

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Working under permitted development (PD) and avoiding planning permission if you’re extending or renovating your home makes it possible for you to save time and money. But what is permitted development and how can you tell if your project will qualify?   

Find out what's possible using our handy guide; it covers everything from what permitted development is to tips on any restrictions you may face. If you're extending or renovating it's a must-read.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights provide automatic planning permission for minor extensions, demolition and certain changes of use, such as a loft, garage or basement conversions

While most houses have PD rights, flats and maisonettes do not, so planning permission is required. 

This said, you should be aware of the following facts:

  • PD rights are updated regularly, so ask your LPA for the latest details;
  • Apartments are not included under PD, nor balconies, verandas and platforms (above 30cm);
  • PD doesn’t automatically apply to Conservation Areas or listed buildings;
  • PD rules vary in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and can differ across local authorities.

Where might I face restrictions to permitted development?

In some areas of the country, known generally as 'designated areas', permitted development rights are more restricted, so you will need to apply for planning permission for certain types of work which do not need an application in other areas. 

There are also different requirements if the property is a listed building. These areas include:

  • Conservation Areas;
  • National Parks;
  • Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty;
  • World Heritage Sites;
  • The Norfolk or Suffolk Broads.

Some local planning authorities may also remove some of your permitted development rights by issuing an 'Article 4' direction. This might be because the character of an area is of acknowledged importance (such as a Conservation Area) and would be threatened by unrestricted works. 

This will mean that you have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one. Check with your local planning authority if you are not sure.

How can I find out if my project requires planning permission?

Before you start work it is always worth checking with your local planning authority (LPA) to find out what is likely to be accepted in your neighbourhood.

The government's planning portal also has a very useful interactive tool that will allow you to quickly discover which project - or part of your project - might require planning permission or be allowed under permitted development rights. 

If you are happy that you can carry out work under permitted development rights, it will be worthwhile applying for a certificate of lawfulness.

What is a certificate of lawfulness?

You might have heard this term bandied about. In a nutshell, if you want to be certain that your project does not require planning permission and is allowed under permitted development, you can apply to your local council through the Planning Portal online application service for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). This can be a handy piece of paper to have when you come to sell your home in future.

The application should include enough information for the council to decide the application - as much as you might put in for a planning application is advisable - or it may be refused. Ask your LPA's planning officers for advice on this. There is a fee.

If your application for an LDC is partly or wholly refused, you can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate.

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