This page contains general information about permitted development rights, including what they are, where to find them and what sites have them. Use the table of contents to navigate your way around the page.

For more detailed information about the most common permitted development rights and restrictions, click the buttons below.


Most sites and buildings automatically benefit from permitted development rights. “Permitted developments” are specific changes – or developments – that you are allowed to make to your site or property without any need to apply for planning permission. 


Most houses – but not flats – have permitted development rights to construct:

  • certain types of extensions, including loft conversions, conservatories, rear and side extensions & porches
  • rooflights, chimneys, flues & satellite dishes
  • outbuildings, e.g. sheds, garages, summerhouses, swimming pools, oil and gas containers
  • hard surfaces, e.g. driveways and patios
  • fences, gates & walls.

Click the button below to find out more.

Change of use

There are also a number of changes of use that are permitted developments. A change of use is where you change the use class of a site or property from one thing to another. Click the button below to find out more.

You may also find our main change of use page helpful as this contains information about the different use classes, including common examples of each use class. Access it using the button below.


Commercial premises, agricultural sites, schools etc. have specific permitted development rights of their own. Unfortunately, we don’t currently have separate advice on our website concerning these rights so please call us on 01473 407911 or contact us using the button below if you require assistance with a commercial project.  


All permitted development rights are described in The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 [as amended], commonly known as “The Order”. 

The Order is updated periodically, most recently in 2021. The Order contains specific, strict rules with which a development must comply in order to be considered a permitted development. If a development doesn’t comply in full, it’s not permitted development and you’ll need to submit a planning application to your local council. Find out more about that process using the button below.

The government has also published a separate guidance document to help householders understand the rights available to them. This is written for use by the average homeowner, although it is still quite technical. You can access a copy for free using the button below. 


Not all sites and premises have permitted development rights and this is not always obvious, nor is it always easy to find out. 

Certain types of premises have no permitted development rights at all, whilst other types of premises have restricted rights, including listed buildings.

If you have exercised permitted development rights in the past, your current permitted development rights might be automatically restricted

In certain cases, the use of one permitted development right can even restrict your ability to make use of other permitted development rights in future. For example, if your house was converted from another use (e.g. an agricultural barn) under permitted development rights, it will not benefit from any of the permitted development rights normally available to householders (for outbuildings, fences, extensions etc.). That means you’ll always need to submit a planning application to your local council if you want to make any of these changes to your property.

Permitted development rights can also be restricted in other ways

Additionally, permitted development rights are also commonly removed or restricted in the following ways and circumstances:

  1. Local councils have powers to restrict or remove permitted development rights from specific sites and/or areas. These are known as article 4 directions. Click the button below to find out more about them. Article 4 directions are most commonly introduced in conservation areas and town centres but they do exist elsewhere.
  1. When planning permission is granted for a development, local councils have powers to impose planning conditions that restrict or remove permitted development rights from the application site. It is quite normal, for example, that local councils apply conditions to new housing estates that restrict or remove the rights of its residents to construct fences or erect new outbuildings. Planning conditions like this will have permanent effect unless a planning application to vary or remove them is approved by your local council. Click the button below to find out more about applying to vary or remove a planning condition.

Did you know? Local councils should only remove or restrict householder permitted development rights in exceptional circumstances. If you think your rights have been unfairly or unreasonably restricted, get in touch. We can assist you to get the restrictive conditions varied or removed.


Prior approval

Firstly, you should be aware that some permitted development rights belong to a special category that is “subject to prior approval”. This means you must submit an application for your local council’s written approval prior to commencing works. If the council’s prior approval is withheld, then you cannot proceed with the development. Click the button below to find out more about prior approval applications.

Lawful development certificates

If you are confident that:

  • your property benefits from a permitted development right that is not subject to prior approval AND
  • your development complies with all of the relevant permitted development rules…

…we still strongly recommend that you apply to your local council for a lawful development certificate prior to commencing works. 

Avoid common pitfalls…

This is because permitted development rights are lengthy, complex and interlinked. They are not always easy to understand, interpret or apply to a given site or scenario and even local councils get it wrong on a regular basis. Because of this, there are many technical pitfalls that the average householder or developer can stumble into unawares. 

For example, calculating heights can get complicated when the site is on sloping ground. Similarly, restrictions on the size and siting of domestic extensions can be difficult to calculate where a house has stepped or curved walls.

Other conditions and limitations are ambiguous or otherwise open to interpretation. For example, there are restrictions on certain householder extensions if they would “front” a highway. In some circumstances, whether or not a highway is “fronted” will be open to interpretation. It will depend, for instance, on the building’s distance from and angle with the road.

Fortunately, applying for a lawful development certificate is a relatively straightforward and inexpensive process. Click the button below to find out more about it.

If your local council agrees that your development is a permitted development, then they will promptly issue a lawful development certificate. The certificate will act as formal confirmation that your development is (and always will be) lawful and no enforcement action* can be taken in respect of it. A certificate is not only great for your peace of mind, it is also frequently required when you come to sell your property.

*Click the button below to find out more about dealing with enforcement action.

Peace of mind before construction starts

A lawful development certificate is a document well worth having before you spend considerable time, money and effort implementing a development that your council may later dispute is “permitted”. It’s also a very useful document to have if you ever decide to sell your property, especially if the rules on permitted development have changed since you used them! 

Failure to apply for a lawful development certificate prior to constructing a development that you believe to be “permitted” can have disastrous consequences. In a worst case scenario, you could be required to return your property to its former condition at significant cost. 

Click the button below to find out about a permitted development nightmare experienced by a former client of ours. Although we were able to resolve their problem in this case, not all victims of permitted development confusion are as fortunate.

The great thing about lawful development certificates is that, once issued, they cannot easily be rescinded*. This means that even if your council later realises that your development was not permitted development after all, they cannot take any action against it. 

*The main exception is where falsehoods or misinformation provided by the applicant have led to the grant of a certificate.

If you’re thinking about exercising one of your permitted development rights, contact us using the button below to find out how we can help you. Our initial advice is always free of charge.

Back to top