There is a perception amongst most folk that every house is allowed a certain percentage of extension development without the need for formal Planning Permission. People seem to think that it applies to them even when they purchase an already extended property.

The Permitted development allowances as contained within the GPDO 1995, Statutory instrument 1995 No. 418 is a minefield of criteria & restrictions with affecting paragraphs & clarifications all over the document which has lead to a vast array of interpretations from homeowners, agents & Planning Authorities, some of which has been challenged in the courts. It is so cumbersome that there is even a government discussion document out at the moment seeking to address these issues that should result in an update or complete new legislation document in the coming months so watch this space.

This News Letter is far too short to go into every issue of what you can & cannot build within the curtilage of a dwelling house without formal Planning Permission (unless you have purchased my MAXIMUM BUILD PLANNING GUIDE OF COURSE???) but it may be advantageous to subscribers of this news letter to highlight some of the more common ‘trip up’ clauses that will prevent you from erecting your extension, outbuilding or alterations to your property as follows:-

1. Site zoning – if your property is within a conservation area or Area of outstanding natural Beauty or a National park then your PD limits may be fully withdrawn or limited from normal.

2. New dwellings – If your property was part of an estate, small infill development, one off build etc. within the last 15 years then there is a good chance that the Planners cleverly by stealth removed the PD rights to the property as part of the original Planning Approval as a Planning Condition. This is to maintain control over your property in most aspects for the future. Even older housing estates may have their PD rights lifted so do check first. This is the most common of all reasons why most ordinary householder hopes are dashed at the outset or illegal buildings are erected in the first place.

3. Previously extended properties – If you are purchasing a property that has already been extended then it is likely that no further PD rights exist applicable to extending a dwelling. 70 cubic metres is not a great deal of extension volume.

4. Ancillary outbuildings – These have minimum distance requirements from the house & to a highway. They also have strict ridge & Flat roof heights & are again affected by the sites zoning as in item 1 above. The use must also be ancillary and contain no bed space. So no granny annexes, office suites or huge buildings that cannot be classified as an ‘ancillary use’.

5. Extension heights – If it is over 4M high within 2M of a boundary then sorry but no go here as well.

6. Fence heights – Normally 1M max. close to a highway or 2M in most other cases.

7. Roof Dormers – if they exceed the existing ridge line, front towards a highway (that means paths as well) or are greater than 40/50 cubic metres (terrace/other) or within a conservation area then no go for building them without Planning.

8. Porches – that do not cover a doorway or exceed 3 square metres or exceed 3M high or are within 2 Metres to a highway do not comply with PD – you will need Planning Permission.

There are more areas of ‘trip ups’ but the ones listed above are the main common catches that most people fall into from time to time.

The solution is to always check the constraining details with your local Planning Dept. with what you want to do & get it ‘informally’ agreed in writing. This aspect is actually harder to obtain than you think as most Councils now want you to apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness (C of E) which is a legally binding document that confirms (or denies) that you do not require formal Planning Approval for your scheme.

You see the council have an unfair ‘get out of jail free’ card where their ‘opinion letters’ outside of a C of E are not legally binding? – Isn’t that great! Can you imagine what the world would become if we were are all granted that sort of ‘cop out’ licence in our correspondence & professional opinions?

Cynical I may be but this sort of evasion of duty & responsibility really guiles me. The down side is when applying for a C of E is that you need proper drawings showing all aspects of the design, siting & location plan etc. which is not normally achievable in a DIY format by the householder, you need to pay a fee (currently £55.00) & surprise, surprise – it takes about 2 months!!!! to decide. – ere…….excuse me….but doesn’t that sound just like a Planning application – YES – to be informed that you don’t need planning in the first place! – what a great ploy & clever thinking by the boys at Whitehall. I think the phrase is….’you couldn’t possibly make this up!

If you have trouble deciding what you want to build is PD or not & the council remain unhelpful outside of a C of E then do seek a professional opinion from a Building Design Agent used to this sort of residential development.

Our ‘Maximum Build Planning Guide’ explains further the tactics involved when extending a property under Permitted Development & what areas can be exploited for developing land or a site for residential use & how to give yourself the best chance of being granted an approval.