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Permitted Development: What You Can and Can’t Do

Bowdon Architects

We get a lot of clients asking us about permitted development rights, which allow you to improve or extend your home without having to apply for planning permission. This applies when an architectural project falls within the government’s permittable volume of work being carried out, which can significantly reduce the time, money and hassle involved.


Changes to permitted development rights

Back in August 2020, changes were made to permitted development rights in the best interests of the homeowner. As a result, the scheme expanded in England to include larger projects, making it easier than ever to invest in a home extension, loft conversion or garage renovation.


Are there any exceptions?

Aside from the scheme only applying to homes in England, there are also the following exemptions:

  • Listed buildings
  • Flats and maisonettes
  • Some new housing developments
  • Homes within conservation areas are not excluded per se, but there are restrictions in place related to the type of building and the work you’d like to carry out


What types of projects are covered?

There are all sorts of home improvement projects that are included under permitted development rights. However, they all come with certain restrictions, which we’ve listed below for quick reference.


Rear and side extensions

  • Permitted development rights only apply to extensions at the rear or side of a house, not its front.
  • The extension must be built using similar materials to the existing property.
  • A rear extension must not extend beyond the existing property’s rear wall by 3m of an attached house, or 4m in the case of a detached house.
  • Your new extension has to be less than 3m high soffit level with a 4m highest point (pitched roof) if it’s within 2m of a property boundary OR 3m high if it’s a flat roof.
  • The extension must have eaves and a ridge that extend no higher than the existing property.
  • Whether it’s an extension at the side or the rear of the property, it cannot take up more than 50% of the land around the original house.
  • Side extensions must be less than 50% the width of the original house.


Two-storey extensions

We’re sure you’ll be pleased to hear that two-storey rear extensions come under permitted development rights. Again, they need to pass all of the criteria listed above and there’s an additional requirement, in that you can’t have windows in the wall or roof slope of the side elevation of additional storeys.


Loft conversions

Having a loft converted is an excellent way to free up lots of extra space without having to add a new building that takes up your external surroundings. A loft conversion is allowed under your permitted development rights if it ticks all of the following boxes:

  • It comes under the volume allowance of 50 cubic metres of additional roof space for detached and semi-detached houses.
  • As with extensions, the loft conversion has to be made using similar building materials to the existing property.
  • The roof pitch of the main part of the loft conversion has to match that of the existing house.
  • It requires a dormer wall set back at least 20cm from the existing wall face.
  • Any windows less than 1.7m from floor level have to be non-opening.
  • Any side windows must have obscured or frosted glass.


Garage conversions

Another popular method of expanding a property’s internal spaces without constructing a new building is by converting an existing garage. This also comes under your permitted development rights, providing the following are factored in:

  • All development works are internal.
  • The garage conversion uses similar building materials to the existing property.
  • The project simply converts the building for a new purpose, rather than enlarging it.
  • Traditional planning permission may be required if you’re converting the garage into a living space, such as a bedroom, living room or annexe rather than something simpler such as a utility room or storage area (check with your local authority to ensure there are no planning conditions in place stipulating the garage as a parking space).


We’re here to help

We appreciate that the above information may seem a bit daunting. If you’d like to find out whether your project qualifies under permitted development, get in touch on 0161 460 0382 or email the team at enquiry@pjhas.co.uk. It’s also worth checking the government’s latest technical guidance on permitted development rights prior to planning any work.



For more useful blogs, please feel free to have a look at the following:

Open Plan Living Will Improve Your Family Life

Bifolding vs Sliding Doors

Turn Up the Heat with a New Kitchen

Thinking of starting your own new build or similar project? Check out our portfolios below.

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Extension & Renovation Portfolio
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