Feb 092012

Householder development comment

6th February 2012 is the day that the long-awaited revision of householder permitted development came into force.


“Permitted development” is minor development for which planning permission is automatically granted by the “General Permitted Development Order”, thereby removing the need to formally obtain planning permission.  It is usually minor works which are unlikely to have an adverse impact on neighbours or the environment.

The new Order amends the “General Permitted Development Order” by modernising permitted development for householders, and has the effect of increasing the amount of development in existing houses which will fall within the “permitted” categories. This goes back to the Government’s aim of reducing un-necessary regulation in the planning system and thereby focussing Council resources on more important development which has the potential for greater environmental impact.  Up until now, permitted development did not apply to flats, but the new Order now introduces limited permitted development to flats.


This is an overview of householder permitted development – for detail call us, or look at the legislation (link below).  The Order is split into eleven separate classes, each of which has a list of “exclusions”.  Few of the permitted development rights apply in conservation areas and within the curtilages of listed buildings.

New concepts have been introduced.   These include :

Principal elevation : the front of the house, by reference to location of the main door, windows, relationship to a road, boundary tratment or architectural treatment.  Houses with staggered frontages may have more than one principal elevation.

Fronting a road : this applies to the principal elevation, and a side elevation if it fronts onto a road at the side of the house.

Front and rear curtilage :  the front curtilage would be land lying in front of the principle elevation, including that on either side of the house – in front of an imaginary line extending from the principal elevation to the boundary.  The rear curtilage is “that part of the curtilage which is not the front curtilage”. 

Height :  measurements of height are taken from the lowest point of the existing or proposed new building.

The main changes include :

  • Enlargements of a house behind the principal elevation (and side elevation if it fronts a road) often does not now need planning permission.  There are height limits, size curtailments near boundaries, and in terms of the amount of the overall curtilage taken up by the development.  Single and multi-storey extensions get separate classes.
  • Porches are an exception to the “principal elevation” rule mentioned above, which are now permitted up to a footprint of 3 sq. m; a height of 3m; and provided it is no less than 2m from a boundary that fronts a road.  Few porches will be sufficiently small to qualify.
  • Roof alterations are now permitted, with a number of exceptions which include not on front or side elevations that face roads, not on a roof plane which is within 10m of a boundary, not higher than the height of the highest part of the existing dwellinghouse (except chimneys),  not within 0.3m of the edge of the roof plane, and no wider than half the total width of the roof plane.
  • Access ramps are now permitted up to a total length of 9m (including landings); any part cannot exceed 0.4m, and the overall height including fence, wall, handrail etc. cannot exceed 1.5m.  Like porches, these can be on the front of the house.
  • Other alterations to a house (without enlargening it) can be done within a 1m “bubble”.  For example, satellite dishes and solar panels will often not need permission.  There are exceptions such as wind turbines and balconies.
  • There are separate rules for decking, porches and driveways, and gates and fences.  Notable is that fences and walls can now be built up to 2m in height, or 1m in height in front of an elevation fronting a road or on a road boundary.  At long last the old 20m rule has gone!
  • There are some limited permitted development rights to alter and improve, but not enlarge flatted properties.

See the Order itself at :   http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ssi/2011/357/pdfs/ssi_20110357_en.pdf

Getting confirmation that your development is “permitted”.

Although the permitted development requirements are now much simpler than those the old Order, houseowners may still wish to obtain confirmation from their council that the works they intend to carry out do quality as permitted development.  Lawyers may require to see such evidence at subsequent house sales and purchases.  It has been the custom in the past for councils to do this informally by issuing a letter of comfort, but many councils are now formalising this by requiring submission of a Certificate of Proposed Lawful Use or Development at the national fee which is half that had a planning application been required -presently £80.     One council that I am aware of has taken the sensible decision that if a Certificate application reveals that planning permission is required, the £80 fee is transferred over as part-payment for the subsequent planning application.

February 2012