The truth about temporary relaxation of the planning laws

According to the website an extension or addition to your house in England is considered to be permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission.

Planning Permission

Subject to the following limits and conditions (for a full list of all the rules, visit the planning portal):

  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house”* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof.
  • Single-storey rear extension must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house* by more than three metres if an attached house or by four metres if a detached house.
  • In addition, outside Article 2(3) designated land* and Sites of Special Scientific Interest the limit is increased to 6m if an attached house and 8m if a detached house until 30 May 2019.
  • These temporary increased limits (between 3m and 6m and between 4m and 8m respectively) are subject to the prior notification of the proposal to the Local Planning Authority and the implementation of a neighbour consultation scheme. If objections are received, the proposal might not be allowed.
  • Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres.
  • Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres.
  • Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house.
  • Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house.
  • Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.

The above government guidance reflects temporary increases to the size limits for single-storey rear extensions (which commenced in May 2013) that must be completed by 30 May 2019, and the associated Neighbourhood Consultation Scheme.

Before homeowners get too over excited, the extra temporary increased extension size limits for conservatories etc. are still subject to planning law, and in practice only going to be permitted if not a single neighbour objects, and your local council agree that your written submission and the professionally drawn plans of your proposals that they require comply with both planning law and the Building Regulations. A downside of the Neighbours Consultation Scheme is that you have to wait 8 weeks for a determination. Plus, if any neighbour objects, your local council is probably only going to allow development if it falls within the limits of Permitted Development (i.e. a maximum of 3m projection from the back of the original rear wall for attached houses and 4m for detached houses). They will then advise you that should you want to have a larger development considered, you will need to submit a full planning application.

Consequently, the smart way to go in the first place is to apply for full planning permission should you want to have an extension greater than these sizes, as this immediately saves you 8 weeks, and if done in consultation with your local councils and planning professionals, you’ll stand a far better chance of gaining an approval. The new temporary increases don’t apply to “designated land”, Conservation Areas, Listed Buildings or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. If your property is part of a relatively new development, your local council may have withdrawn your PD Rights, which would mean you’d need to submit a planning application, even if it was say only wanting to add a 3m x 3m conservatory onto the original rear elevation. So before you embark on any extension it is always worth checking your  property has sufficient PD Rights still intact to carry out the project you are looking to have done.


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