Permitted development rights: a guide for homeowners

Extending or renovating your property within permitted development rights will remove the need to apply for Planning Permission. Here is what can be done

Permitted development rights: oak frame extension added to country cottage by prime oak
(Image credit: Prime Oak)

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

Find out what's possible using our handy guide; it covers everything from what permitted development is, to the latest updates from the Government since the Covid pandemic, to tips on any restrictions you may face. If you're extending a house or approaching a house renovation find out everything you need to know in our dedicated guides.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are an automatic grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application.

Most houses have permitted development rights, but flats and maisonettes do not, so planning permission is required. 

While it's essential to check with your local council first, permitted development rights should provide you with automatic planning permission for:

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

  • Permitted development rights are updated regularly, so ask your local planning authority for the latest details;
  • Balconies, verandas and platforms (above 30cm) are not covered by permitted development rights;
  • Permitted development rights don’t automatically apply to conservation areas or listed buildings;
  • Permitted development rules vary in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, and can differ across local authorities, so always check before proceeding with your project.

What are the latest updates?

Residential blocks and can now be extended upwards, up to two storeys

The latest update to PDR involves double storey extensions. Planning permission will now be granted to extend purpose built flats and residential blocks up to two storeys, a change to help build more roomy and comfortable homes. Effective from 1st August 2020. *

Note: you must still submit a formal request to your local planning authority for confirmation on all the developments involved. And, work can be carried out on buildings no more than three storeys in height. 30 metres is the cut off height for the extended building.

A fast-track approval process for double-storey extensions

There is also now a fast-track approval process for double-storey extensions in place, as announced 21 July 2020 making adding a double storey extension far quicker than usual. Effective by September 2020.**

More freedom for self-build housing 

This means that those wanting to take on an even more challenging home build project, will have more freedom to do so. The latest mention in the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government’s Planning for the Future statement, 'we will support those who want to build their own homes to find plots of land and provide help to parish councils and neighbourhood forums who wish to build a small number of homes to allow their communities to grow organically, providing homes for the next generation and those wishing to downsize.'*

As mentioned above, always double check any restrictions with your local authority ahead of all building work.

Where might permitted development rights be restricted?

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. 

These areas include:

  • Conservation areas, as mentioned above;
  • 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.

The following are also not covered:

  • Balconies
  • Verandas
  • Raised platforms (above 300mm)
  • A drive made with non-porous materials (ie, tarmac)

How to check if your project qualifies for permitted development rights

The government's planning portal has a very useful interactive tool that will allow you to quickly discover which project – or part of your project – might be allowed under permitted development rights or require planning permission. You can find out more about planning permission in our guide.

If you have permitted development rights do you need to make a planning application?

Where a relevant permitted development right is in place, you will not need to apply to your local planning authority for permission. However, in some cases, it may be necessary to first obtain planning approval from a local planning authority before carrying out work deemed as permitted development, and permitted development rights will not override your obligation to comply with other permissions, regulations or consents. Our advice? Always check with your local council before proceeding and obtain a Lawful Development Certificate for the work (see below).

What is a Lawful Development Certificate?

In a nutshell, if you want proof that your project is allowed under permitted development and does not require planning permission, 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.

More project information:

*Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0

** Latest Government news to extend homes upwards