Planning Permission Information

What is planning permission?

In the UK you will need planning permission (sometimes called planning consent) if you want to build on land, or if you want to change the use of land or buildings. The requirement for planning permission was introduced in 1947 under the Town and Country Planning act. Interestingly, all buildings and land uses that existed prior to 1947 were granted planning permission, and it was only after that date that planning permission was required. The current version of the act is the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 if you decide to take a look you will need to put some time aside as it is a very lengthy and complicated document! The Local Planning Authority (LPA) is responsible for granting planning permission. The LPA is normally your local Borough or District Council who will normally have a website with all of the relevant information and forms.

Do I need planning permission?

The vast majority of loft conversions do not require planning permission. However, there are some situations where you may need permission such as:

  • Your house is a listed building
  • You live in a conservation area
  • You want to build dormers that face onto the road
  • You want to build a dormer that will overlook a neighbours property
  • Any part of the conversion will be higher than the existing roof
  • If your home has already been extended to the limit of its permitted development (15% of original size)

If you are unsure we recommend that you contact your LPA.

Development and permitted development

Development is defined as any building work or change of use for your property. All development needs planning permission. Initially this sounds crazy as the local planning authority would be inundated with requests every time someone planned to have some building work completed on their property. To avoid excessive paperwork certain types of work are excluded from the definition of development and are called permitted development. Permitted development includes routine maintenance of existing buildings or certain minor developments. If your development is considered to be permitted development then you are granted automatic planning permission.

The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 allows Local Authorities to create their own definitions of what is considered to be permitted development, for that reason it is always best to check with the Local Authority for your area. For your convienience the Direct Gov website has a page where you can find your local council..

Finding out more

Most local councils have a website that will offer extra information regarding planning permission in your area.