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Householder Extensions and Alterations: Where to start?

September 2023

By Laura Polley, Planning Consultant

Whether you’ve found a new home or want to stay in your current home and it’s almost perfect, but you need more space, you might be wondering about what permissions you need to get. It could be that you need an extra bedroom, a larger kitchen, a new garage or home office, but navigating the world of planning can be tricky.

There are two routes to consider when altering or extending your home:
  1. Use of permitted development rights; or 
  2. Applying for planning permission. 

Works which only affect the interior of the building such as changes to the layout does not usually constitute development and therefore does not require permission.

Permitted Development
When considering extending or altering a property, the best starting point is considering whether the improvements can be done using permitted development (PD) rights. Using PD rights for your extension or outbuilding removes the uncertainty and time delays which can be experienced when seeking planning permission.

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 essentially grants planning permission for certain types of development. This enables homeowners to undertake works to their home in many ways without the need to apply for planning permission. Different rules apply to flats, where there are no PD rights and planning permission will be needed for any extensions or external alterations.

The PD rights vary depending on whether the property is located within a ‘Designated Area’. These areas include Conservation Areas, National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites and the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads. You can still extend your home using PD rights in these areas, but there are additional limitations.  

You will be surprised what you can achieve using PD rights! Some properties may be able to construct a two storey rear extension; a side extension up to half the width of the original house; a loft conversion to include rear dormer windows; and a range of outbuildings. Height and floor area limits do apply and it is worth seeking professional advice prior to getting started. PD rights allow homeowners to construct large rear extensions of a depth between 4m & 8m on a detached property or between 3m & 6m on a semi-detached or terraced property. Such developments are subject to the Council’s ‘prior approval’. This is a relatively simple process requiring the submission of details of the proposal, which will enable the Council to consider the impact of your proposed extension on neighbouring properties. 

Not all PD requires an application for the Council’s prior approval. In such cases owners may wish to seek a lawful development certificate from the Council prior to carrying out a development to provide peace of mind. In addition to providing comfort to you, a lawful development certificate will act as evidence to prospective purchasers that the extension is permitted should you come to sell the property. 

Always remember that PD is subject to a number of restrictions and conditions and you should check the regulations carefully prior to commencing the works. If in doubt – always seek professional advice! 

Householder Planning Application
If your proposed development exceeds the limits of permitted development, this does not mean you have to shelve your dream extension but it does mean that you will need planning permission. At GTH we would be delighted to assist you with designing your extension and managing the planning application process on your behalf. 

The Council will need to see existing and proposed floor plans and elevations to assess your proposals against local and national planning policies and to ensure that the development is of an appropriate and high quality design that does not harm neighbouring properties or the character and appearance of the area. Our experienced planning and architectural teams have the expertise to work with you to design your extension.

Listed Buildings
If your home is a listed buildings, there are other factors to be aware of when considering extending or renovating. Listed Building Consent is required for works to demolish, alter or extend a listed building in a manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. Many of the PD rights referred to above do not apply to listed buildings and you will likely need planning permission and listed building consent to extend or alter your home. If your property is a listed building, you may also wish to seek the advice of a specialist heritage consultant before planning any works or extensions. 

Building Regulations
Building Regulations approval will be required for most developments regardless of whether they are permitted development or if you have planning permission. 

Here at GTH, we have the knowledge and expertise to assist homeowners with their proposed extensions or alterations. Our team have experience with assessing whether a proposal is (or could be) PD and obtaining the necessary consents on your behalf where necessary. Our architectural team are able to complete plans to support the planning application and beyond to include building regulations and construction drawings as necessary. 

If you are thinking of extending or altering your current home or a property you are interested in purchasing, please call our Development Land and Planning team on 01823 334466 or email where a member of the team will be pleased to assist. 


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