Permitted Development Rights, what are they and does your property have them?

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

You may be aware of the term Permitted Development Rights, or PD rights as they are also often referred to. However, you may be less clear on how these rights apply to your property and what you can develop under these rights. PD rights refer to the national legislation known as the General Permitted Development Order 2015, also commonly referred to as the GDPO. In the context of the services I provide, the GDPO is relevant for residential development such as extensions and outbuildings. However, the GDPO provides many other rights, such as changes of use and agricultural permitted development rights. It also provides the legislation to enable road repairs and telecommunications equipment without the need to go through the planning system.

Does Your Property Have Permitted Development Rights?

The answer to this question is, maybe. It depends on where your property is located. There are areas around the country which have had their permitted development rights removed by means of an Article 4 Direction. What this essentially means is that all forms of development in those areas have to go through the local authority. Therefore either through a householder planning application or a full planning application. Some Article 4 Directions remove all PD rights, some directions remove just some of the rights. In other cases, previous planning permissions associated with a property may have removed rights under the GDPO. The local authority does this for various reasons, in general, to protect the amenity of neighbouring properties and the character of the area from overdevelopment.

Flat Roof Rear Dormer
A rear dormer is an example of a project which could potentially be completed under permitted development rules – Image:

Sometimes all of the PD rights have been removed, in other cases just a specific right such those to erect additional extensions. Part of my service is to review your properties planning history. This will help me to evaluate what PD rights exist to aid in the design of a proposal. Even if what your looking to build cannot be completed under the GDPO, we may be able to use those rights to our advantage. For instance to provide a ‘fall back’ position which the local authority must consider.

Development Within the Curtilage of a Dwelling House

So the rights which we are generally more interested in refer to your properties ‘curtilage’. You may be wondering what a ‘curtilage‘ is. Well, its definition is, “an area of land attached to a house“. So its the land immediately around the main dwelling, including any closely associated buildings. It does not include open fields around your property even if you own them.

Conservatory under Permitted Development Rights
Conservatories are a typical example of development which can often be completed under permitted development rights- Image:

It’s also important to understand what your or original dwelling actually is before evaluating what you could construct under permitted development rights. For instance, the size of any potential extension under the GDPO must take into account any previous extensions if the two extensions will touch.

Now in some cases, the domestic curtilage is very simple to define for a property. In other cases, this is where the discussions start with the local planning department. It can be the case that while an area of land is regarded as a single ‘planning unit’, not all of that unit is regarded as domestic curtilage. The size of the curtilage needs to be agreed so any applicable PD rights can be evaluated. If you have a fence or hedge around the main dwelling this will likely set the boundary for the curtilage. However, other cases are not that simple. Part of my service is to present arguments to the local authority to agree on a curtilage position. I do this by searching for planning applications and reviewing old Ordnance Survey maps.

Large Rear Sunroom Extension Under Permitted Development Rights
Under permitted development rights and the large home extension scheme its possible add some significant space to your dwelling – Image:

Do you have Permitted Development Rights in the Greenbelt?

Yes, you do! Provided as stated above they have not been removed by Article 4 Direction or planning condition. National Greenbelt policy is very restrictive on what development is appropriate. Therefore many people (including myself) find it surprising that PD rights apply in the Greenbelt, but they do. And because they do, when it comes to development proposals in the Greenbelt they can be a valuable asset. There are extensions to a property which you can construct under PD rights that you would find almost impossible to get approved under planning permission. Therefore, in some cases, you may choose to design your proposal around these PD rules alone. If that is the case it is often prudent to apply to the local authority for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). The LDC will confirm if the local authority accepts that the works can be completed under permitted development rights.

What about Listed Buildings?

Listed Buildings do not enjoy PD rights to erect outbuildings (Class E) within its curtilage. The other classes of the GDPO are applicable to Listed Buildings, however, a Listed Building Consent application is required in all cases. With a Listed Building Consent application the local planning authority and conservation officer will determine if they feel the proposals will have a negative effect on the building.

What about Conservation Areas and National Parks?

While not as restrictive when compared to Listed Buildings, there are limitations on standard PD rights in these areas. For instance, you will not be able to construct a two storey extension under permitted development rights. You also cannot construct roof extensions such as dormers, or outbuildings against the side elevation of the dwelling.


Evaluating Your Permitted Development Rights

Please get in touch using the contact form if you would like me to investigate the potential for using permitted development rights to extend your property.