What Can Be Built Without Planning Permission?

In England, planning permission is usually required before undertaking any significant building or development projects. It serves to regulate construction activities. However, there are instances where certain projects can be carried out without the need for additional permission. In this article, we will explore what can be built without planning permission in England and the limitations and conditions that apply.

Permitted Development Rights

Permitted Development Rights (PD rights) allow property owners to carry out specific types of building work without obtaining further planning permission. These rights are granted by the government to streamline minor developments and reduce bureaucracy.  PD rights are contained within the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended).  However, it’s important to note that there are still certain restrictions and limitations that must be followed. Let’s explore some common examples of what can be built without planning permission under PD rights:

Home Extensions: Single-story rear extensions, such as rear conservatories or orangeries, can often be built without planning permission. However, there are limitations regarding the size and location of the extension. It must not extend beyond the rear wall by more than a specific number of meters (which varies depending on the property type), and certain other conditions must be met.

Loft Conversions: In many cases, loft conversions can be carried out under permitted development. This typically applies to rear dormer conversions, roof lights or roof extensions. However, there are restrictions regarding the size and height of the addition, and it must not exceed specified volume limits.

Outbuildings: Small detached buildings, such as garden sheds or summerhouses, can often be constructed without planning permission, provided they meet certain criteria. The size and height of the outbuilding must be within the specified limits, and it should not be used for residential accommodation.

Porches: A porch can usually be added to a house without planning permission, as long as it meets specific size and height requirements, 3 square metres ground area and no more than 3 metre above ground level. The porch must be constructed outside any external door and should not  be within 2 metres of a boundary shared with a highway.

Certain Changes of Use: Under permitted development, changes of use can be made without planning permission in some cases. For instance, converting an agricultural building into a residential property, subject to certain conditions, may be permissible.

It’s crucial to note that even if the proposed project falls under permitted development, it’s advisable to consult the local planning authority or seek professional advice to confirm eligibility and ensure compliance with specific regulations.

Exceptions and Local Restrictions

While permitted development rights cover a wide range of projects, there are exceptions and restrictions that vary depending on the location, property type, and local planning policies. For example, if the property is located in a designated area such as a conservation area, national park, or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), there may be stricter regulations in place, and planning permission may be required for projects that would otherwise be covered under permitted development.

Some PD rights require the prior approval of the Local Planning Authority before works commence. If this isn’t sought it can mean your development would require planning permission.

There are also restrictions in some areas withdrawing PD rights.  Consulting with the local planning authority or seeking professional advice is highly recommended to ensure compliance and avoid any potential issues.

Related content

For simple proposals you’re unlikely to need a Town Planning Consultant, however if this all seems confusing, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a chat about what your aspirations are and to see if we can help you through the process.

The government has set out guidance explaining the rules on permitted development for householders, what these mean and how they should be applied in particular sets of circumstances: Permitted development rights for householders: technical guidance.

We’ve also published 7 things you need to know about the Prior Approval Process which you might find useful.

The following articles may also prove helpful if you find yourself in a position when a development has already been carried out without the relevant planning permission:

>> Oh no I don’t have planning permission

>> A Guide to Planning Enforcement Action

If you’re considering extending your current home or looking into converting or changing the use of a building, the first thing you need to do is figure out the scope of permitted development rights. Our Permitted Development & Use Class eBook helps you understand the type of work that typically requires planning permission, and which processes you’ll likely have to go through.

We have lots more information for you in our series of eBooks and Practical Guides which cover everything from the very basics of town planning to application processes and what developers need to consider.

What Can Be Built Without Planning Permission