Beware as more “relaxed” planning rules yet to be lawful

The Coalition Government recently announced proposals to relax planning for home improvements in an attempt to boost the economy. However, these have met with much opposition from groups fearing the relaxing of planning laws could lead to serious disputes between neighbours, and in themselves not be sufficient to help re-boot the UK economy.

As the law stands at present, as long as a property still has sufficient permitted developments rights intact and all existing building and planning laws are complied with as they stand, then most home owners can build a single storey extension or conservatory up to a projection of 3 metres if the property is semi-detached and up to 4 metres if detached. However, even now neighbouring properties have â€Ŕrights to light” and some councils enforce a 45 degree rule, whilst others a 60 degree rule, in that no structure can go out further than a diagonal line from the neighbours nearest window i.e. line of sight. In addition there are restrictions on the height that single storey extensions can be built to.

High Wycombe MP Steve Baker in his Orangery Extension Built by Hazlemere Window Company
High Wycombe MP Steve Baker in his constituency Orangery extension built by Hazlemere Window Company

Since 1st October 2010, when stricter Building Regulations came into force, adding or replacing an existing glass extension like a conservatory or orangery in England or Wales, needs careful research to ensure that what is added is permitted development.

From a long term investment/hassle free point of view, it is important that any new double glazed structure fully complies with the planning rules and Building Regulations in force at the time. Failure to do so can have significant consequences if and when the property the glass extension is connected is sold. It is the responsibility of the purchasers Solicitors to ensure that any conservatory, extension, orangery or replacement windows and doors, fully comply with the rules that were in force at the time these home improvements were made.

Erecting any type of extension, be it a glazed structure or not, which does not comply with all the rules is rather like the man in the bible Jesus talked about who built his house upon the sand, so as soon as the waves, wind and rain came it disappeared in the storm. Whereas in the past, some property owners have wrongly â€Ŕgot away” with breaking the law, planning enforcement notices nowadays are more common. It is worth be aware that both the Building Regulations and planning rules in England and Wales are now much stricter since the need for all new structures to be more thermally efficient, to help cut carbon emissions.

It clearly states on the Government’s planning portal website — as â€ŔWith all building work, the owner of the property (or land) in question is ultimately responsible for complying with the relevant planning rules and building regulations.” This public information Government website clearly sets out the issues each householder needs to take into account before ordering a new double glazed conservatory or orangery, or indeed replacing an existing structure, because the rules make it quite clear that any changes are made at all (i.e. removing external doors between the house and glass structure, changing the width, depth, height, design etc.), it is likely that planning and/or Building Regulations will be required.

Double glazed conservatories and some orangeries that have sufficiently double glazed roofs and walls are normally exempt from building regulations if:

  • They are built at ground level and are less than 30 square metres in floor area.
  • The conservatory is separated from the house by external quality walls, doors or windows.
  • There is an independent heating system with separate temperature and on/off controls.
  • Glazing and any fixed electrical installations comply with the applicable building regulations requirements

The Government’s planning portal also advises home owners not to construct conservatories where they will restrict ladder access to windows serving rooms in roof or loft conversions, particularly if any of the windows are intended to help escape or rescue if there is a fire. It is worth being aware that any new structural opening between the conservatory and the existing house will require building regulations approval, even if the conservatory itself is an exempt structure.

Glass extensions like double glazed conservatories and orangeries can be built if sufficient Permitted Development rights are intact, but even then they may still need to comply with all planning rules and Building Regulations.

For free professional help and advice about planning and building regulations for any glass extension from one of Hazlemere Windows experienced conservatory design experts, visit Hazlemere Conservatories


Our showrooms are our shop windows and we have invested heavily to create extensive displays that best showcase our large range of windows, doors and living spaces. You will receive a warm welcome, plus a proper coffee, and the choice to browse at your leisure without interruption.


Want to speak with an Advisor? Give us a call on 08000 825 825

Our friendly team will be pleased to help with any questions you may have.

Back To Our Blog