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Permitted Development

With all the rules and regulations involved with a self build, it is something of a relief that there are still things that can be done without planning permission - Permitted Development.

There may be instances where some Permitted Development is disallowed - listed buildings or conditions placed on existing approvals. If in doubt ask your planning department, rather than reverting any work you have carried out to the way it was previously.

Additional Land

Permission is needed to change agricultural land into garden land and this can be difficult to achieve. But opportunities still continue to arise in rural areas where farmers are happy to sell bits of land to homeowners. There is nothing to prevent you from owning a parcel of agricultural land adjacent to your property. The issue then becomes what you're actually able to do with it.

Agricultural activities such as growing vegetables and planting trees are acceptable, but flowers and mowing the lawn are not. A fence or hedge between your approved garden and additional land is a good way of demonstrating that you have not incorporated it into your curtilage. Of course you can still benefit from owning the additional land as it protects your view, prevents anyone else building on it, and you can use it to grow vegetable or plant trees for fruit

Attached Buildings

Non-habitable parts of a house already in existence, such as integral garages or outhouses, can be into part of a house. Houses of the 1960s/1970s periods often have integral garages, which can be converted into another reception room. Similarly Victorian period houses with outbuildings attached to the rear can also be converted.

Detached Annexes

Outbuildings for additional accommodation provided it is used in a close association with - and not independently of - the main house is permitted. An outbuilding used to house an elderly relative, with their own kitchen and bathroom, provided they are genuinely dependent on the occupants of the main house and spend time within the main house, planning permission should not be required.


Subdividing rooms using partition walls or inserting or removing floors does not need permission. For example, barn conversions often have large areas of vertical space. Inserting additional floors to create rooms does not need planning permission.

Minor Amendments

Modifying existing planning approval without the need to apply for a new permission. It is also important to be aware that if you want to depart from the approved plans of a proposed house to take advantage of permitted development, the changes will need to be agreed as minor amendments to the approval. Technically you only benefit from these rights once a house is substantially complete.

Loft Conversions

Making the most of roof space to create additional rooms does not require permission. A loft conversion takes advantage of the large unused space as a cost-effective way of transforming a house. Keep this in mind when looking at a plot with detailed planning with approved designs for a new house - this may give you the additional space required without altering the plans.

New Access

No permission is needed to create a new vehicular access a residential property from an unclassified road. You can check the status of a road at the local planning authority. Most roads are not classified. Cul-de-sacs and most minor village s are not classified. Having a separate independent access will often make a house far more attractive and desirable than having to share one. If the new access is from your house on to an adopted road it is normally necessary to agree the technical specification for dropping the kerb with the Highway Authority.


While the right to build outbuildings is restricted in Conservation areas and AONB it is not restricted in green belt areas and offers real potential to make otherwise very restricted land much more useful. The floor space should not cover more than half the garden area or exceed four metres in height with a pitched roof, or three metres with a flat roof. The uses that they can be put to are very wide and limited only in the same way as the use of the house itself. This is provided that the house and its garden and outbuildings are only occupied as one residence.

Outbuildings are often best considered as parts of the house, although detached and located in the garden. From use as a home office, additional lounge, work­shop etc. Provided outbuildings are further than five metres from the house, not situated between the house and any road and do not cover more than 50 per cent of the garden there is no limit in the area of floor space created.

Permitted Development Part 2 >