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What home improvements do you need planning permission for?


If you want to make any serious changes to your home, you’ll need planning permission. As frustrating as it can be, homeowners don’t have free rein to do whatever they please to their property.

This being said, you certainly don’t need planning permission for everything. Lots of home improvement projects can go ahead with implied consent under your permitted development (PD) rights.

PD grants homeowners the right to carry out certain work without planning permission. It means you can start your project right away. You won’t need to contact your local authority and you won’t get in trouble for any changes you make.

In this article, we’ll be explaining which home improvements need planning permission and how long the process will take.

Just a quick disclaimer before we begin! If you live in a listed building or designated area, you usually need additional consent for significant internal or external works. The advice in this article may not apply to your home and you should contact your local authority for more information.

Right. Let’s get started…

What home improvements do you need planning permission for?

What is planning permission?

Planning permission is consent from your local authority that gives you the go-ahead to complete a specific home improvement or building project. You often need planning permission if you’re hoping to build something new, make a major change to your property, or change the use of your building.

If you’re thinking about making some changes to your home, it’s your responsibility to apply for it before you start work. You could get in trouble if you don’t! Applying for planning permission also allows your neighbours to give any valid reasons to object to your planned development. The final decision, however, lies with your local authority.

Do you need planning permission for:

New front doors

You don’t need planning permission to replace your front door with one that’s similar to the original. It’s a simple home improvement, so you can get to work right away. If you need to repair your door or give it a fresh coat of paint, this is fine too.

New patio doors

Like getting a new front door, getting a new patio door is allowed under PD. You’ll only need planning permission if your new patio door is being installed along with a conservatory or extension (in some instances). But we’ll cover this in more detail below!

New windows

If you’re hoping to replace, add, or move windows in the original wall of your property, you will be able to do this without getting planning permission.

Keep in mind that there are rules you’ll have to adhere to when installing upper storey side windows and skylights. Plus, bay windows are regarded as extensions, so you’ll need to check whether you need permission.

You’ll still need to see whether planning conditions were attached to your property’s original condition, as this can complicate things. Your local planning authority will be able to tell you whether there are any conditions and give you all the relevant information.

An extension

Yes, you can build an extension without planning permission. But it must meet certain conditions.

Your extension should be single-storey, which means its building specifications must fall within strict parameters.These include:

  • Materials used should be similar to those of your home.
  • Your extension cannot sit forward from the front of your house
  • If it is within two metres of a boundary, it can’t be higher than four metres and the eaves can’t be higher than three metres.
  • The extension must not cover more than 50% of the total land surrounding the original house. 

There are also separate rules for rear and side extensions.

A new conservatory

Under similar conditions to extensions, conservatories are allowed under PD. Your conservatory must comply with some restrictions, but any reputable conservatory provider will be well-versed in the PD rules.

A porch

Most people would assume that homeowners are free to construct a new porch. And they’re right — you don’t need planning permission to add a standard porch to your home.

Still, porches are functionally extensions to your property, and there are a few rules to stop people from taking advantage of a gap in the legislation. Your porch must be no taller than three metres, not within two metres of any boundary adjacent to a highway, and the external ground area must be less than three metres squared.

A front door canopy

As a front door canopy is smaller than a full porch, you won’t need planning permission to add one above your door. Whether you’re hoping to install one yourself or hire a professional, you can be confident that this is covered by PD.

How long does it take to get planning permission?

Your local authority will be able to give you an idea about how long your planning permission process will take. But most applications receive an answer within eight weeks. If you’re seeking permission for a particularly large or complex project, it might take a little longer (up to 13 weeks).

If you’re unhappy with the outcome of your application; for instance, if it has been rejected or granted along with strict conditions, you can make an appeal. Luckily, 75% of applications in England and Wales are approved, so fingers crossed you don’t have any issues!

How long is planning permission valid for?

Planning permission is usually valid for three years from the date you are granted to begin development. If you don’t start work within this period, you’ll need to reapply — so don’t let it pass you by!

If your project changes, you’ll need to report any intended developments that weren’t included in the original planning permission. They might not be problematic, but it’s wise to err on the side of caution.

Next steps

The world of planning permission can be confusing, but we hope you’ve found this article useful! Keep in mind that PD rules vary between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. So you should still run your plans by your local authority before you start any work.

As ever, it’s important to contract a reputable company to carry out your home improvements. If you’re looking to replace your front door or windows, add a conservatory to your home, or install the perfect porch, we can help.

Give us a call or drop by one of our South West showrooms to chat about your project. Need some inspiration? Check out our brochures and see some of our past projects.

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