The short answer is probably not as it may well be Permitted Development. You should, however check carefully using our guide below. 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_.
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:
- The building must be a house (not a flat or maisonette);
- 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;
- Any roof extension beyond the plane of the (existing) roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts a highway is not permitted development;
- No part of the extension can be higher than the highest point of the original roof (not including a chimney or flue);
- Balconies are not permitted development;
- Materials must be similar to existing;
- 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);
- 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.
What happens if I convert my loft and it is not Permitted Development?
If it does not meet the tests above you may still be able to do it but will need to apply for Planning Permission (click here for advice on applying for planning permission). Get in touch here if you would like Planning Direct to provide advice and a fixed-price quote to do this for you.
The council could take immediate Enforcement Action (requiring you to return the house back to it’s original state). Failure to do so is a criminal offence and may result in prison and/or an unlimited fine.
Planning Direct can quickly and inexpensively apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness for your loft conversion. The 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.
There are 2 types of lawful development certificate. A local planning authority can grant a certificate confirming that:
(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.
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.