About twelve months ago I did an article warning about the use of permitted development rights and, most importantly, whether a proposal was permitted development in the first place.  In my opinion, for those not familiar with planning, permitted development is one of the most commonly misunderstood areas of planning (second only to Green Belt versus greenfield…).

There is a very common misunderstanding that permitted development means you can just get on and build.  In some, limited, cases this may be true from a planning perspective.  Despite this, even if your proposal is truly permitted development (for example a simple 3m extension on a semi-detached house) it does not mean that matters such as building regulations can be overlooked.  Building regulations are a separate matter which require a separate application via Building Control.

Some of the larger or newer permitted development rights are subject to a prior approval/notification application process which must be done prior to commencing development.  These do require assessment of matters which, albeit more limited than a full policy based assessment, does mean that approval is not automatic or guaranteed.  Even if your proposal was acceptable in all regards, and qualified with the permitted development conditions, if you start it before receiving prior approval where required the proposal can no longer be considered via this route as it would fail the qualification requirement of prior approval being sought before commencing.  A full (householder) application would be required to try to regularise the build.

In considering whether your proposal is permitted development, as I have said before, it is also worth considering what the previous owner of your property has done.  Whilst you may not have extended your home, the previous occupier may have and the limits for householder extensions are based upon the original dwellinghouse which is defined as the how the house stood when it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if built before that date).

Assuming your project is permitted development, and there is no requirement for a prior notification, it is still worth considering applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness confirming that your development is legal in planning terms (i.e. that it is permitted development).  This piece of paper is relatively easily to obtain and may save headaches and/or the need for indemnities at a later date in the event you sell your property or asset.  It certainly makes the life of your Conveyancer a lot easier.

So to summarise very broadly:

  • Check whether the property benefits from permitted development rights to start with;
  • Check the planning history and/or property itself for evidence of previous extensions to establish the starting point for the “original” dwellinghouse;
  • Consider whether your proposal is permitted development and whether this can be constructed with or without prior approval;
  • If you don’t require prior approval, consider a certificate of lawfulness to check and certify your proposal is permitted development;
  • All routes will require a separate Building Control application for building regulations.

It really is, therefore, key that you establish exactly what is required for your proposal well in advance and this can usually be established fairly quickly through a quick chat and check of the relevant facts.  Such checks can save you a lot of time and money and ensure you take the quickest and most simple route to achieving the extra space you desire.

From April I will be setting aside time in my diary most weeks for initial “mini chats” which would be useful for starting to establish matters such as this and flag up points for consideration.  If you think one of these would be useful for your proposals (whatever this may be!) email me via the details on the contact page and I will schedule you in!