Do you Need Planning Permission for Home for Home Improvements?

Do you Need Planning Permission for Home for Home Improvements?

11th July 2017

A news story recently went viral on social media platforms after a new £250,000 five bedroom family house was cut in half and ended up as a two bedroom bungalow!  The case hit the headlines after neighbours complained that it breached planning legislation by towering over other homes in a neighbouring street in Treboeth, South Wales.  Swansea Council officials ruled that planning rules were broken and ordered that the roof and top floor be removed after the property’s developers lost a two year legal row.  To make matters worse, the house was bought by a family of four before Swansea Council’s ruling and moved into their new home shortly after it was built in 2013. 

Enraged residents living in the older street behind the house raised issues with the building’s height to Swansea Council which led to a planning saga resulting in a number of amended schemes being submitted and dismissed while the building company involved challenged the Council’s orders to downsize.  The hapless family who live in the house had to move out when work began to remove the upper level and then ended up selling the resulting bungalow at quite a loss, taking a massive financial hit. 

Today we’re going to take a look at what sort of building work a householder is allowed to have done without needing planning permission.  Some projects do not need permission and are typically referred to as “permitted development (PD) rights”.  Building projects which do enjoy PD rights include warehouses and industrial premises, some outdoor signs and advertisements, and demolition, though approval to demolish from the Local Planning Authority is required.

When it comes to residential properties, there are projects that don’t need planning permission and these are usually those which will have no impact on the neighbours or the environment.  However, when it comes to larger, more complicated home improvements, such as loft conversions and extensions, they can sometimes be carried out under PD rights as long as the rules relevant to width, height and materials are kept to.  To confuse the issue, PD rules differ depending on the type of house and “designated land”.  Flats and maisonettes don’t have PD rights and some other properties have had PD rights removed, usually in conservation areas. 

If your home does not enjoy PD rights, then you may need planning permission for relatively small, simple jobs such as building a garden shed, installing decking or paving your garden, or replacing windows and external doors.   Most householders, however, are permitted to build a longer rear extension than would normally be allowed without planning permission until May, 2019 because the Government relaxed PD rules.  This situation will apply until May 30th, 2019 when the PD Rules are due to be tightened up again.  This means that anybody planning a longer rear extension will need to get the work done within the next two years.  This is well worth considering if you need extra space as the current relaxation of PD Rules has led to some families enjoying up to 75% extra extension space without requiring planning permission.