Converting your loft is a great way to extend your home, and if you don’t need Planning Permission you can save time and money thanks to Permitted Development.

Permitted development rights allow home owners to make improvements to their home without spending lots of time and money obtaining planning permission. Presuming you comply with a number of conditions, you may well be able to convert your loft under permitted development. Check the Planning Direct guide to see if you comply.

If you want peace of mind (or want to ensure that you can sell the house without legal problems in the future) there is a simple way of proving you have the right to convert your loft – obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate*.

*There are 2 types of lawful development certificate which a local planning authority can grant a certificate for, as follows:

(a) an existing use of land, or some operational development, or some activity being carried out in breach of a planning condition, is lawful for planning purposes under section 191 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990; or

(b) a proposed use of buildings or other land, or some operations proposed to be carried out in, on, over or under land, would be lawful for planning purposes under section 192 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

What is Permitted Development and what are the rules?

Householder Permitted Development is set out in Schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development Order (2015). This Government legislation allows homeowners to undertake a number of home improvements without planning permission. Loft Conversions are subject to a number of conditions:

  1. The building must be a house (not a flat or maisonette);
  2. The additional space (added since 1st July 1948) must be no larger than 40 cubic metres (terraced house) or 50 cubic metres for a semi / detached house. So, if the roof has already been extended, this must be included in this allowance;
  3. Any roof extension beyond the plane of the (existing) roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts a highway is not permitted development;
  4. No part of the extension can be higher than the highest point of the original roof (not including a chimney or flue);
  5. Balconies are not permitted development;
  6. Materials must be similar to existing;
  7. Any side facing windows must be obscure glazed and non-opening unless opening is 1.7m above the floor of the host room (to preserve privacy of neighbours);
  8. Roof extensions (not from hip to gable) must be set 20cm back from the original eaves (see below)

If your proposal complies with all the rules above then it is probably Permitted Development** but you should still consider applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness.

**There are other rules such as is the house in ‘designated land’ such as a Conservation Area, The Broads, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty etc.

What happens if I convert my loft and it is not Permitted Development?

If your required loft conversion does not meet the requirements (as set out above) you may still be able to build it, but you will need to apply for Planning Permission.

Click here for more guidance from Planning Direct on loft conversions.

Would you like Planning Direct to provide advice and a fixed-price quote for helping you obtain planning permission to convert your loft. Please contact us here for further information.

If you convert your loft without planning permission and the development doesn’t comply with the permitted development requirements the council could take Enforcement Action. This means you would be required to return the house back to its original state. Failure to do so is a criminal offence and may result in prison and/or an unlimited fine. 

If you have converted your loft and it does comply, Planning Direct can quickly and inexpensively apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness for your loft conversion. This process only takes 8 weeks and is a lot less costly than a Planning Application. Once you have the Certificate you know you benefit from Permitted Development and the Council cannot take action against you. If you would like a fixed-price quote for this please get in touch here or call us on 01473 407911.

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