The Attraction of a Garage Conversion

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold an MA in Planning and work as a Planning Consultant

Many people today are looking to generate extra living space for their home. Obviously, extensions are one possible option, however many also opt for garage conversions. Your integrated garage may be surplus to requirements. You may have a double garage and only need the space for one car. In other cases, the garage is not big enough to comfortably park your car. When it comes to whether planning permission is required for your garage conversion there are various factors in play.

The video below from Real Homes provides some good examples of garage conversions you could consider:

This video from Real Homes does quite a good job of going through the various garage conversion options.

Permitted Development Rights and Garage Conversions

If your proposals do not involve the enlargement of the property then its possible that you could complete your garage conversion under permitted development rights (PD). Below are typical examples of when planning permission may still be required:

  • Your home is a Listed Building
  • Permitted Development Rights have been removed from the property
  • Previous planning conditions restrict the use of the garage for parking only
  • The converted garage will be used for business purposes
  • Your property is located in a Conservation Area

Even if you are quite confident you can complete your garage conversion under permitted development rights I would still encourage you to consider a Lawful Development Certificate. The local authority will confirm whether they consider your conversion lawful. Furthermore, it serves as evidence of lawful development upon the sale of the property.

Is the Garage part of the Original Dwelling?

This is very important if you are trying to complete your garage conversion under PD. Was your garage attached to the dwelling on July 1st 1948, or when the property was first built? If the answer is no then there may be a planning condition attached to the garage for parking purposes only. Furthermore, you would not be able to replace the garage door with a domestic door/windows without a householder planning application.

Garage Door In-Fill

In reference to the paragraph above you may be able to replace your garage door with a domestic door and windows. You will need to use materials which match the rest of the dwelling to comply with PD.

If based in a Conservation Area it’s likely you will need to submit a planning application for the garage conversion. You may even need to keep the garage door as a false front for the conversion to maintain the character of the area.

Garage Conversions and Change of Use

Going from a domestic garage to domestic living space is not considered development. Therefore this is not a change of use in planning terms. However, as stated above, this also depends on if there are previous planning conditions restricting the use for purely parking purposes.

If you intend to use the previous garage space for business purposes which will involve increased traffic and business customers visiting the property, this will be considered a change of use. Therefore, a garage conversion for certain business purposes would require planning permission. However, if its purely a home office and none of the above apply its unlikely to be considered a change of use.

Removed Permitted Development Rights

Some properties have had their permitted development rights removed or they are not applicable. As stated above this applies to Listed Buildings and potentially Conservation Areas where permitted development rights have been removed by an Article 4 Direction.

Furthermore, it can apply to properties with previous extensions. Upon approval for the extension, the local authority may have removed permitted development rights. Also, if you live in a relatively new development its likely PD rights have been removed.

Detached Garage Conversion and Planning Permission

Garage conversions to domestic living space under PD is only applicable with regards to an integrated garage as part of the original dwelling (or as of July 1st 1948). When it comes to a detached garage conversion to integrate it into the existing dwelling or form an independent residential annexe, this would likely require planning permission for change of use.

Retrospective Planning Application

You may have been contacted by your local enforcement officer over a garage conversion which you have previously completed. Or the garage may have been converted by a previous owner. In either case, depending on various factors the local authority may allow you to submit a retrospective planning application to regularize the situation in planning terms. For this application to have the possibility of approval it will often require extensive research of the planning history of the property and when the development took place.

Pre-application Planning Advice on Garage Conversions

As shown above, there can be many variables which dictate if planning permission will be required. Moreover, if the garage conversion can be completed under permitted development rights. Pre-application planning advice from your local authority will take away a lot of the guesswork to how the council perceives the garage conversion. To get the most value from this pre-application advice its best to do some research into the planning history of the property first.

Assistance with Planning Permission for a Garage Conversion

If you are considering a garage conversion and need assistance with your project please get in touch. We can discuss your potential options and the best way to proceed with the project. 🙂