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planning permission

Do I need planning permission?

Getting planning permission for that dream extension or for essential maintenance can be a nightmare. Planning regulation is complex and many people have fallen into the pitfalls that await the ill-informed. As a starting point, we’ve distilled some key facts about what building projects do and don’t need planning permission …

If you want to build something new or make a major change to your building you will probably need planning permission. If your project needs planning permission and you do the work without getting it, you can be served an enforcement notice ordering you to undo all the changes you have made. So don’t risk it and check before you start.


An addition or extension to your house* is generally considered to be permitted developments. So you won’t need to go through the additional hassle of getting planning permission as long as:

  • Your extension is no more than half the area of land around the original house (curtilage). The “original house” is seen as it was in 1948; after this date how it was newly built
  • Your extension is not forward of the principal elevation or side elevation onto a highway
  • Your extension is not higher than the highest part of the roof
  • In the case of single storey extensions, it 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 – although the Government is consulting on extending this, so watch this space
  • The maximum height of your single-storey rear extension is not higher than four metres
  • Extensions of more than one storey do not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than three metres
  • Side extensions are single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house
  • Two-storey extensions are no closer than seven metres to rear boundary
  • The materials are similar in appearance to the existing house
  • Your extension does not include verandas, balconies or raised platforms
  • Any upper-floor, side-facing windows are obscure-glazed; any opening is 1.7m above the floor

Conservatories are categorised as the same as any other extension, as set out above.

*Different rules apply to flats and maisonettes.

There are also different planning restrictions for designated areas such as Conservation areas and if your property is listed. So check with your LPA

Garages, sheds and other outbuildings

Outbuildings such as sheds, garages, greenhouses and some other structures are also considered to be permitted development. You can build a garage or outbuilding on your property without planning permission as long as it’s of a reasonable size – no higher than 4 metres. Do bear in mind though that outbuildings cannot take up more than half of the land around the original property. There are as always exceptions where planning permission is necessary so contact your Local Planning Authority or visit the Planning Portal for further details of planning exemptions for outbuildings

Paving over the front garden

As long as the material you are using is porous there is no need for planning permission whatever the size of the new hardstanding. However if the material is impermeable anything over 5 square metres requires planning permission.

Windows and doors

In most cases there is no need for planning permission to repair or replace windows and doors. The major exception is if your property is listed in which case you will have to obtain listed building consent. And don’t forget you will need Building Control approval for windows.

External walls and roof

For minor maintenance works, or improvements such as painting your house or inserting a skylight, you do not need planning permission. As always this is not the case if your building is listed. If you live in a conservation area or an area of outstanding natural beauty, you are required to obtain planning permission if you wish to change the appearance of your home. If you live in a flat and you wish to alter the roof you should consult the local planning authority before you start any work.

Wind turbines and solar panels

Temporary wind turbines do not require planning permission but permanent ones usually do. If you are unsure contact your local authority. Solar panels do not require planning permission unless you live in a listed property.

Fences, gates, and walls

Planning permission is necessary for any fence, gate, or wall:

  • Next to a road and over 1 metre high
  • Over 2 metres and not next to a road
  • If your house is listed
  • If it forms a boundary with a listed building

Trees and hedges

  • Many trees are protected by tree preservation orders and you will need permission to prune them. You can phone your council to check if any trees on your land are protected.
  • Similarly permission is required for work done to any trees in conservation areas. To find out if a tree on your property is protected contact your local council.
  • Hedges can be any height but you are responsible for any hedge on your property – it’s your job to stop them becoming a nuisance to your neighbours


Nearly all internal works such as loft conversions, garage conversions, new staircases, bathrooms, kitchens, or rewiring, do not require planning permission. But, do check if you want to do anything to a listed property or you live within a Conservation area.

Next Steps

While this is a helpful starting point the HomeOwners Alliance recommend you contact your local planning authority (LPA) to check whether your project falls within permitted development or whether planning permission is needed. If the latter applies, an informal meeting with your local planning officer before you submit an application is highly recommended. Some local planning authorities charge for this service so it’s a good idea to check first. It is also a question you have to answer in the application form and can assist the LPA in dealing with your application.

You can then make your planning application online

And remember, whether you needed planning permission or not, your building work still needs to comply with building regulations, for your safety, to improve the energy efficiency of your home (and reduce bills) and to ensure you can sell your house in future without any costly problems or delays. Make it clear to whoever carries out your building work that you expect them to ensure their work is compliant with building regulations but be warned: responsibility ultimately lies with the building owner, who may be served a notice to pull down or alter the work if it doesn’t comply with the building regulations.  You also need to be aware that if you have a shared party wall with your neighbour, you may require a party wall agreement — read the HomeOwners Alliance guide to Party Wall Agreements.

When you are ready to transform your home, take time to:

Read our free advice guides about working with an architect and doing improvement work on your house, check whether you need a party wall agreement. Then use our Plentific tool to find the right tradesman in your area. If you already have someone in mind, based on recommendation, then please do take the time to double check their credentials using our free service. It’s boring we know but it will give you that extra peace of mind and could save you an awful lot of time and hassle.


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  1. Dear Natasha,

    Thanks for your query. Please have a look at this answer from one of experts on the question: Can I put a double storey extension on my semi detached house under permitted development?. We also have a useful guide that you can have a look at: Do I need planning permission?. You can also try out our:Virtual House: Your cool planning permission tool.
    Do wish you all the best with this.

    Kind regards,

    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — October 13, 2016 @ 2:23 pm

  2. We currently have 2 single story buildings on the back of our house 1 is a dining room & the other is a bathroom extension this was done before we bought the house. Can we build on top of these extensions without planning permission?

    Comment by Natasha — October 5, 2016 @ 7:55 pm

  3. Hi
    I intend to purchase a new-build detached property, however neither ground floor water closet of first floor family bathroom have a window. I would like to be able to create new windows in each. My conveyancer has advise that they cannot suggest any changes to the developers contract to allow this, and my best bet is to take up this request directly with the developer.

    Can I not have this written in the contracts?
    How amenable are developers (this is one of the majors) to these type of request?

    Obviously, any window created would be to the relevant Building Reg, obscure, glazed, etc.



    Comment by Andrew Atkinson — August 9, 2016 @ 2:07 pm

  4. Can I put a wall where my fence all the way down the garden is and how high can it be without the need for planning permission,

    Comment by nathan cottam — April 20, 2016 @ 7:06 pm

  5. Can u build a property under 4m tall on private land without planning permission brand new?

    Comment by jamie — April 3, 2016 @ 3:26 am

  6. Hi
    I want to know if a detached house can be turned into two maisonettes under permitted development. I think I must have dreamt it but I was under the impression you could- However,I now can’t find a definitive answer on the net.

    My local Planning department won’t give advice on phone or even see people at their offices, so can’t get any joy out of them unless I put in a pre-app which apparently takes weeks.

    Thanks in advance

    Comment by Graham — February 10, 2016 @ 4:23 pm

  7. Hi there
    Need help
    I am an Aussie who bought this house 7 years ago. We got a tradesman to fit a door from our kitchen to garage. A door size wall was removed to fit t the door. The tradesman did not indicate anything about planning permit.

    I am now about to sell my house, I was told by my neighbour that I need a permit.
    It has been 8 years ago and it us only to fit a standard door. What can I do now

    Thanks, appreciate your assistance

    Comment by Matilda — February 9, 2016 @ 7:14 pm

  8. I have terraced home, I planning to do internal work within my home which should not affect anything outside.
    I am planning to
    1.Build 2nd entrance from my kitchen to living room

    2. I have long living room with has arch type wall at the middle and I would like to change the arch shape wall to rectangular and add push doors.

    Would I need planning permission from my local authority or can this be done without and anything else i required to cross when carry out this work?

    Comment by Ishtiaq Hussain — January 10, 2016 @ 7:46 pm

  9. I have a semi detached house with an double extension partly across the back , I aim to build a single story extension using the neighbours consent scheme to 5.5 metres across the other half of the rear of the property – however the new extension will stagger the double extension slightly. Is this allowed under permitted delevelopment neighbour consent scheme ( up to 6 m for a semi )?

    Comment by trevor colton — November 19, 2015 @ 11:06 am

  10. We are in the proses of buying a freehold flat which we which to extend at the back do we permission from the othe freehold in the flat,or can we just build out to the 3metre allowance

    Comment by Dianne — November 12, 2015 @ 12:59 pm

  11. Question…we currently have a single story rear kitchen extension this was done before we bought the house. Can we build on top of that extension without planning, if it’s less than 3metres from original house wall?

    Comment by Amy — November 12, 2015 @ 11:51 am

  12. You need to highlight PARTY WALL Consents

    Which will involve every Leaseholder/Freeholder in the same building and every Leaseholder/Freeholder of any property within 3 meters of the building

    Planning permission (for an extension that probably comes under permiited development) Took us 3 months and cost about £1300 including drawing up the plans

    PARTY WALL took about a 12 Months and Cost us £4000 including a Planning document change to clarify how Foundations would work.

    Comment by Charles — April 29, 2015 @ 9:52 am

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