This page contains general information about permitted development rights, including what they are and what sites have them. Use the links below to find more detailed advice and information on some of the most common types of permitted development.

Find out about…
Householder Permitted Development Rights
Change of Use Permitted Development Rights
Prior Approval Applications
Article 4 Directions

What are permitted development rights?

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. 


Householder

Most houses 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 (sheds, garages, summerhouses, swimming pools, oil and gas containers etc.)
  • hard surfaces (driveways, patios etc.)
  • fences, gates & walls.

Click the button below to find out more about householder permitted development rights.


Change of use

There are a number of changes of use – i.e. changing the use class of a site or property from one thing to another – that are permitted developments. Click the button below to find out more about change of use permitted development rights.

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


Commercial

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


Where can I find permitted development rights? 

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 supposed to be understandable to the average homeowner. Access a copy for free using the button below. 

Do all sites have permitted development rights?

Not all sites and premises have permitted development rights and it is not always obvious or easy to find out. 

Certain types of premises have no permitted development rights in any circumstances, including flats. Other types of premises have restricted permitted development rights, including listed buildings.

In certain cases, the use of one permitted development right can 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 are also commonly removed or restricted in the following ways:

  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.
  1. When planning permission is granted for a development, local councils also have powers to impose planning conditions that restrict or remove permitted development rights from the site. It is quite normal, for example, for local councils to 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.

Do I need to submit an application to my local council?

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, you cannot proceed with the development. Click the button below to find out more about prior approval applications.

If you are confident that:

  1. your property benefits from a permitted development right that is not subject to prior approval and
  2. 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. 

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. There are many technical pitfalls that the average householder or uninformed 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 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” is open to interpretation – it depends on the distance to and angle with the road.

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

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 read about a permitted development nightmare experienced by a former client of ours.

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 being where a certificate has been granted based on falsehoods or misinformation provided by the applicant.

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.

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