When do I need planning permission?

Permitted development

You can make certain types of minor changes to your house without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called "permitted development rights".

Can I find out online what is regarded as permitted development?

See do you need permission on the Planning Portal to find out if the work you propose to do needs planning permission or building regulations approval. This has guides and information on your responsibilities and common projects. There is an interactive house and terrace. You can click on the area of the house or the terrace. You can find out if work to that area of the property is classed as permitted development.

Can permitted development rights be removed?

In exceptional cases, permitted development rights may have been withdrawn from a property. In these circumstances, a planning application may be necessary.

Contact Development Management to find out if this is the case.

Householder pre-applications

The Council no longer offer pre-application advice for householder developments.

Some alterations to a dwellinghouse or development within the curtilage of a dwellinghouse may be permitted development under The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (As Amended).

To help decide if whether works may be permitted development or not, the following links may be useful:

Lawful development certificate for proposed works

If you want to be certain that the works you want to carry out do not need planning permission, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for Proposed Works. It is not compulsory but may be useful if you ever need to confirm that works are lawful under planning legislation.

To apply complete the Lawful Development Certificate for Proposed Works application form on the planning application forms and guidance web page.

 Prior Notification for larger single-storey rear extensions

This is defined as extending beyond the rear wall of the original house* by:

  • over four and up to eight metres for detached houses; and
  • over three and up to six metres for all other houses.

See to prior approval on the Planning Portal for more information.

Information to be submitted before beginning any work

Before beginning work that may benefit from permitted development rights, the developer must submit the following information to us:

  • a written description of the proposed extension that includes the following information:
    • how far the new extension would extend from the original rear wall of the dwelling house
    • the maximum height of the extension
    • the height of the eaves of the extension
  • a site plan showing the proposed extension added to the dwelling house
  • the addresses of any premises adjoining the site
  • the contact address of the developer (including an email address if electronic communication is acceptable to the developer).

When this information is received by us it will be checked to make sure that the proposal meets with all relevant permitted development restrictions. The submission must include the above information. The developer will be advised if the submission is not in the correct form. The developer will be advised if the proposal would not benefit from permitted development allowances.

Download the application for prior approval of a proposed larger home extension form (PDF: 286Kb / 3 pages) from the Planning Portal.

What we will do

We will write to the owners or occupiers of any adjoining premises to advise them of the proposed development. This notification will include the information provided by the developer regarding the size of the extension. A copy of the notification is also sent to the developer. The persons notified have 21 days, from the date of the letter, to respond to the notification.

If no comments are received, the development may commence, following receipt of a written notice from us. This will state that prior approval of the proposed extension is not required, and no planning permission is required.

If an objection is received within the consultation period from the owner or occupier of any adjoining premises, the developer requires our prior approval. We have to consider the impact of the extension on the amenity of any adjoining premises. In order to consider the impact on the amenity, we can ask the developer for further information. The information is what is reasonably required to enable a proper consideration to take place.

We have a maximum of 21 days (following the 21 day neighbour consultation period) to consider the impact of the extension on amenity. During this period the Local Planning Authority can determine that:

  • prior approval is granted for the proposed development
  • prior approval is refused for the proposed development.

If no response is received by us within the entire 42 day period, the developer may commence the extension. This is as proposed in the notification, provided they meet all of the permitted development criteria and do not need planning permission.

Important additional information

If prior approval is refused by us, the developer has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. This is using the same arrangements provided for a refusal of planning permission.

Non-residential development

If your proposal is not in connection with a house extension or alteration, for example, a business or commercial venture, we will require you to write to Development Management. You must provide us with as much detail of the proposal as possible. This must include a site location plan and sketch drawings to establish whether planning permission is required.

Farming and forestry development advice

See planning permission for farms on GOV.UK

Change of Use

In addition to development, changes of use may require planning permission. For example, a change of use from a shop to a dwelling, or the other way round. For further details please contact Development Management.

Change of use on the Planning Portal lists the various use classes and provides information on changes of use which require, and do not require, planning permission.

The laws governing whether or not planning permission is required are complex. It is always advisable to consult us prior to undertaking development to check whether planning permission is needed. If you are at all unsure about whether you need to apply for planning permission, please contact Development Management.

It is important to realise that it is not possible to tell you over the telephone when planning permission is required or not.

If the work you propose to do requires planning permission please read advice before making a planning application.

Non-householder changes to permitted development rights

A number of important changes came into effect on 30 May 2013 concerning non-householder permitted development.

Where you are required to go through a prior approval process, this must be undertaken prior to any works. You cannot apply retrospectively. Once the correct information has been received by us we must consider if any of the impacts are potentially triggered. If so, we must notify the relevant consultees, giving them 21 days to comment. We must also put up a site notice for 21 days, or serve a notice on any adjoining owner/occupier.

We can ask for more information about impact/risk assessment and any mitigation.

We must take into account any representations and the National Planning Policy Framework. We can only take into account highways, flood risk areas and contamination issues.

Development cannot commence until:

  • we give written notice prior approval is not required
  • we give written notice of our prior approval (or refusal)
  • the expiry of 56 days without such a decision being given.

Development cannot take place other than:

  • where prior approval is required, in accordance with the details approved
  • where prior approval is not required, or 56 days has expired, in accordance with the details provided in the application.

Unless we and the developer agree otherwise in writing to a mutually agreed extension of time.

Below are the changes to Permitted Development for Changes of Use. Where these are subject to the Prior Approval method above, this will be stated.

School fences and walls adjacent to a highway

The new changes allow schools to build a higher boundary fence or wall adjacent to a highway. This is up to 2m. This is provided it does not create an obstruction likely to be a danger for highway users. If it does, it should be reduced in height to 1m. This includes new free school premises, provided the relevant Minister has approved the school. This is also for buildings being used for a temporary period as a school. See below.

Increased thresholds for 'B' use classes

The new changes allow increased permitted development thresholds for changes of use from B1 or B2 to B8, or from B2 or B8 to B1, from 235m² to 500m².

B1(a) office to C3 residential change of use

The new changes allow buildings in B1(a) office use to be used for C3 residential purposes. This is subject to a prior approval process. The procedure for applying for approval are set out above. Through the prior approval process we can only consider the impacts against transport and highways, contamination and flooding issues.

The new permitted development rights are temporary. No prior approvals can be implemented after 30 May 2016. The rights do not apply on land in certain areas. This includes certain military sites, safety hazard areas, listed buildings, or scheduled monuments, and areas described as Article 1(6A) land.

Notification of a proposed change to use of dwellings form (PDF: 223kb / 3 pages) - available on request.

Changes of use to state schools

The new changes allow B1, C1, C2, C2a and D1 uses to change use to a state school. This is subject to a prior approval process (see above). The site must not form part of a military explosives or safety hazard area. It must not be a listed building, or scheduled ancient monument. For the prior approval process we can only consider transport and highways, noise and contamination issues.

Prior approval of proposed change of use to state funded school form (PDF: 223Kb / 3 pages) - available on request.

Change of use from agricultural buildings to a 'flexible use'

The new changes allow existing agricultural buildings to change use to a 'flexible use'. These fall within use class A1, A2, A3, B1, B8, C1 or D2, subject to notification (under 150m²). They may be subject to our prior approval if between 150 and 500m².

No more than 500m² (cumulatively) of floor space in the building can be converted to a new use. The site must not form part of a military explosives or safety hazard area. It must not be a listed building or scheduled ancient monument. The new 'flexible use' will be classed as a 'sui generis' use.

Any prior approval can only be considered against transport and highways, noise impacts, contamination and flooding. The procedure for applying for approval is set out below.

Prior approval of proposed change of use of agricultural building to a flexible use within shops, financial and professional services, restaurant and cafes, business, storage or distribution, hotels, or assembly or leisure form (PDF: 223Kb / 3 pages) - available on request.

Use as a state school for a single academic year

The new changes allow a temporary permitted development right allowing any building to change to a school for a single period of one academic year. This is provided the building has been approved for school use by the relevant Minister, the Secretary of State responsible for schools. It can only be used once for this purpose. It must revert to its previous lawful use at the end of the academic year.

Flexible uses and changes within them

The new changes allow a new permitted development right for any building within use classes A1, A2, A3, A4, A5, B1, D1 and D2 to change to a flexible use. It must fall within either use class A1, A2, A3 or B1, where the floor space is no more than 150m². Developers have to notify us of the initial change, plus any other change within the 2 year period. The new use may only be operated for up to 2 years. It then reverts to its previous lawful use. During this period it can be used for other uses within the flexible use. The initial 2 years does not extend each time a change occurs.

Temporary increased thresholds for industrial and warehouse use classes

The new changes increase Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter industrial and warehouse premises. This is from the previous 25% of gross floor space or 100m² (whichever is the lesser) to 50% or 200m². This new permitted development right was temporary and expired on 30 May 2016. Developers must have notified us on completion.

Telecom installations

The new changes allow the construction, installation or replacement of:

  • telegraph poles
  • cabinets
  • lines for fixed-line broadband services.

That will not require prior approval in Conservation Areas for a 5-year period. Development must have been completed before 30 May 2018.

Extensions permitted to temporary schools

The new changes mean that buildings which qualify for the right to change temporarily to school use are also given the benefit of existing permitted development rights. These allow schools to carry out building works, including the erection, extension or alteration of buildings and the provision of hard surfaces. These are subject to various conditions and limitations. This will apply from the date we are notified by the relevant Minister that the site has been approved for school use.

Temporary increased thresholds for offices

The new change increases Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter office premises. This is from 25% of gross floor space or 100m², whichever is the lesser, to 50% or 200m². The new permitted development right was temporary and expired on 30 May 2016. The developer must have notified us in writing when the development was completed.

Temporary increased thresholds for shops, catering, professional or financial services

The new change increases Permitted Development thresholds to erect, extend or alter a shop, catering, professional or financial services establishment. This is from 25% of gross floor space or 100m², whichever is the lesser, to 50% or 200m². The new permitted development right was temporary and expired on 30 May 2016. The exclusion of development within 2m of the boundary of the curtilage is removed during the same period except in relation to premises which adjoin land or buildings in residential use. The developer must have notified us in writing when the development was completed.

Last updated: Wednesday, 15 February, 2023.