Permitted Development Pitfalls

Permitted development rights offer many properties a great way of adding space without the doubts of full planning approval. At face value they look straight forward but there are regular examples of people trying to build under permitted development rights but getting caught out and this can lead to receiving enforcement notices from planning authorities and potentially even having to demolish what they have built. We think this is usually as they haven’t understood the complexities of the permitted development documents which in full are quite extensive. Here we look at householder / dwelling house rights and below are some common pitfalls to watch out for but note this isn’t an exhaustive list so to avoid falling foul we’d suggest using a professional to guide you, or at the very least getting confirmation from your council planning department before you build anything.

  • Going around the bend.
    You can extend to the rear, you can extend to the side, but joining these up with a wrap-around extension is often not permitted development. This is because the rear extension will be deemed a side extension if it extends past the side of the original house and the width of a side extension is limited so if you look to extend across much of the rear you’ll likely exceed that limit.
  • It’s a material world.
    Permitted Development rights limit the materials for extensions to those found on the existing building so if you plan to divert from these you may well need approval. You needn’t be afraid of that, often planning will be approved for new materials but you need to follow the process.
  • Keep yourself grounded
    Many PD rights are related to height but its important to note that it is the height of the ground that this is taken from, not the floor level. This can become a problem if your ground floor level is significantly different to the ground level as often is the case with period properties. And don’t be smart and try to adjust the ground level to remove the gap as it’s the natural ground level that is relevant and you could well come unstuck trying this.
  • High decking
    Decking has become a common addition to many gardens and leading out from an extension onto raised decking or a patio flush with floor level is a common request. However not everyone appreciates that decking and patio’s can only be maximum of 30cm above ground level before they need planning approval. As with the point above, if you have a bigger height difference this needs thought to avoid breaching regulations.
  • You don’t have the rights.
    Its important to remember that not every property benefits from PD rights. There are well known examples where rights will be restricted or removed such as Listed Buildings, Conservation Areas, National Parks, AONB’s (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) however there are lesser known instances. An example of this will be that PD rights were withdrawn historically for your property. This could have been because of work that was done since construction, but it could be that they were removed when the property was built. A common example of this would be some of the mass housing developments where developers have shoe-horned in as many houses as possible and left them with tiny gardens. Here the planning authority may restrict rights to protect neighbours from overlooking or loss of amenity caused by additions.