What is Retrospective Planning Permission or Consent?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

With most planning applications work has yet to start on the project. However, there are instances where work may have already started or been completed. If the works do not come under permitted development rights the local enforcement department may become aware of the works. This is where a retrospective planning application may be a suitable means to address the situation and regularize the development in planning terms. Retrospective planning applications are used to secure permission for development ‘after the fact’ of it taking place.

There are some applications that are classified as a retrospective but the majority of the development has yet to take place. Common instances of this kind are where the applicant has already started ground works which are considered development. Some applicants see this approach as a means to speed up the development process. However, if the application is refused the local authority would expect the ground works to cease and reinstate the land to its previous condition.

If you have been contacted by your local planning enforcement department its important to address the situation as quickly as possible. You want to see if they will allow you to submit a retrospective planning application before an enforcement notice is served.

Retrospective planning permission
There are wide range of circumstances where retrospective planning permission may be required. In some cases including the development or use of structures as dwellings.

Does the Local Planning Authority have to accept a Retrospective Planning Application?

No, they don’t, with the introduction of the Localism Act 2011 local planning authorities (LPA’s) were given new powers. If a pre-existing enforcement notice is in place a retrospective planning application will not be accepted.

Under Section 70A of the Town and County Planning Act, the LPA has further powers to refuse a retrospective application. For instance, let’s presume a similar application was submitted for the existing development within the last 2 years. Let’s also presume there has been no change to local planning policies. Then the LPA can determine there has been no ‘material’ change in planning terms and refuse to accept the retrospective application. There is no right of appeal against this refusal, there is only the right to challenge the decision via judicial review to the High Court.

No Plausible Means to Approve

The LPA will also refuse to accept a retrospective planning application is they see no plausible means to approve the application. In other words, if the existing development causes such significant harm to the local landscape character or Green Belt. Furthermore, the amenity issues may be so significant in terms of impact on loss of light, privacy, noise or smell.

However, if the LPA then proceed to issue an enforcement notice for the development an appeal against the enforcement notice can be made via a Ground A appeal. This is also known as a deemed planning application (DPA). The Inspector will then consider the planning merits of the case. With a deemed planning application a fee has to be submitted for the Inspector to consider the planning merits of the case.

How to secure Retrospective Planning Approval

If the LPA is willing to accept a retrospective planning application its likely they will set a date by which it must be submitted. If the retrospective application is not submitted by this date it’s likely they will issue an enforcement notice. It is a criminal offence not to adhere to an enforcement notice, so you should never ignore it.

With the submission of your retrospective application, you need to have a good understanding of the current planning situation in terms of local and national planning policy. For instance, this could include a solid understanding of Green Belt planning policy. It’s also a good idea to do an extensive planning search for relevant local decisions. These can help to shape your arguments and strategy.

Securing retrospective planning permission
Securing retrospective planning permission maybe the only means to keep a development from avoiding enforcement action.

Thorough Research is Essential

You also need to have a clear understanding of what development the LPA believes to have taken place. For instance, you may believe that part of the development is immune from enforcement due to the passage of time. A thorough look into the planning history of the property can be of assistance. In that case, it may be possible to submit a lawful development certificate for part of the works.

If during the discussion with the LPA on the retrospective application they have significant issues it’s helpful to be flexible. For instance, you may be able to amend the proposals to remove certain aspects of the existing development. This may involve lowering the ridge height of a roof structure due to impacts on landscape and local character. It may involve removing certain aspects of the existing structure which have negative neighbour amenity impacts. While it may not be desirable to have to spend time and money modifying the structure, refusal of the retrospective application could result in a loss of the structure altogether.

How long does it take to get Retrospective Planning Permission?

For retrospective applications, the determination period is the same as other householder or full planning applications for minor developments of 8 weeks. During that period it’s important you or your planning agent/consultant are in contact with the case officer. You need to try and establish a constructive relationship where they are detailing any concerns they have with the proposals. You then have the option to amend the proposals or for them to determine the proposals as is.

It’s good to have a conversation with the planning officer on the phone, via email and a face to face conversations if possible. Email serves a good record of the conversations, however, the subtext is often lost. With a face to face or phone conversation its usually possible to get more of a feel whether the application is heading for approval or refusal.

What happens if the Retrospective Planning Application is Refused?

If a retrospective planning application is refused it’s likely that the local enforcement will be in contact again. They will usually state that the development needs to be removed and the site returned to its previous condition/use. If this is not done by a certain date an enforcement notice will be served. The enforcement notice will state another date by which development must be removed/ceased. Otherwise, the local planning authority may begin legal proceedings.

As stated previously like most planning proceedings there is a right of appeal. However, it’s important to note that you have less time to start enforcement appeal proceedings than with other planning matters. Usually, an appeal must be submitted within 28 days of the enforcement notice being served.

As with any planning appeal (but especially an enforcement appeal) you need to be aware that the LPA may seek costs against you. If the Inspector believes the appellant has behaved unreasonably in the submission of the appeal they may award costs. Costs awards, however, can go in both directions and may be awarded against the LPA. The risk of a costs award does need to be acknowledged. Therefore trying to secure retrospective permission for development should always be the first approach.

Assistance with a Retrospective Planning Application

If you have been requested by your local planning authority to submit a retrospective planning application please get in touch. We can discuss your current situation and if a retrospective application is the best means to proceed. 🙂

What is the Green Belt?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

When it comes to planning one of the trickest policies to navigate projects around is that of the Green Belt. My own dwelling is located within the Staffordshire Moorlands Green Belt. Therefore I’ve appreciated the importance of being familiar with Green Belt planning policy and its implications for many years. There is no doubt that securing approval for development located within the Green Belt can be a significant challenge. However, understanding the detail of the policy and designing proposals which do not significantly conflict with the objectives of the Green Belt is possible.

What is the Purpose of the Green Belt?

The main purpose of the Green Belt is to provide a ‘check’ on urban growth and sprawl. To ensure that urban development does not overrun areas of agriculture, forestry and leisure. The key objective of the Green Belt is to maintain areas of openness and permanence. The current National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states the five main purposes of the Green Belt are:

  • (a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • (b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • (c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • (d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • (e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

The Government places significant weight on the protection of the Green Belt. Therefore, so do local planning authorities and the Planning Inspectorate. Therefore once you have identified that your development is located within the Green Belt it should shape the design of the proposals and your approach to securing planning permission.

How much of England is covered by Green Belt?

England Green Belt Wikipedia
This is a map of England’s Green Belt currently displayed on Wikipedia.

The first area of Green Belt was created around Greater London in 1935, referred to as the Metropolitan Green Belt. Then more Green Belt was introduced across the UK, notably around Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool.

The area of land in the UK covered changes year on year as land is released or protected. The latest released Government statistics from 2018 state that 12.5% of the land area of England is covered by Green Belt. This is estimated to be 1,629,510 hectares. From the previous 2017 figures, there was a reduction of 5,070 hectares.

Is new Green Belt being created?

As the NPPF states, the majority of the Green Belt has already been established, and new Green Belts would only be created in ‘exceptional circumstances’. Due to the UK housing crisis that is ongoing the introduction of new Green Belts would not be conducive to addressing this issue. Many local authorities are now having to conduct Green Belt reviews to identify parts of the local Green Belts which serve little value to the five main purposes stated above. These areas are then released from the Green Belt to meet urgent local housing needs. Areas of Green Belt which are released are located on the fringes of existing settlements. Therefore new developments can be sustainably located close to public transport and services.

Is my property within the Green Belt?

If you wish to find out if your property is located within the Green Belt, there are various sources you can use to check. However, some are more accurate and user-friendly than others.

Telegraph – Interactive Green Belt Map

Green Belt Map Telegraph
Screenshot of the interactive Green Belt currently on the Telegraph.co.uk

Back in 2012 the Telegraph placed an interactive map of Englands Green Belt on their website. You can enter your postcode and obviously the areas highlighted in green are areas of Green Belt. However, the problem with this map is when it comes to reviewing properties on the fringes of Green Belt zones. Furthermore, it’s not clear if the data set they are using to generate this map is being updated. Therefore, it may not be providing accurate information.

Campaign to Protect Rural England

The Campaign to Protect Rural England is a registered charity who lobby the government and other institutions on planning policy and other matters which impact the countryside. They have created their own interactive Green Belt map using OpenStreetMap.

Screenshot of the interactive Green Belt map on cpre.org.uk

Magic Map – Defra and Natural England

Green Belt Magic Map
Screenshot of the Stoke-on-Trent Green Belt from Magic.defra.gov.uk

One of if not the best tools that planning consultants such as my self have access to (and its free!) is Magic Map. Launched in 2002 it provides visual information on more than 300 different data layers held on the natural environment. Therefore it also provides access to the Green Belt data set provided by the Government. It’s a bit more complicated to use than the interactive map on the Telegraph/CPRE websites, but you can view the map in much more detail. You can also draw lines, shapes and annotations. You can print these maps, however, you cannot submit them as Location or Site Plans. For such maps, you will need to purchase OS maps with the appropriate licences. Magic Map is normally my first point of reference to check the Green Belt status of the client’s property.

You Local Authorities Interactive Planning Maps

Green Belt Map SMDC

Over recent years there has been a push by many local planning authorities to make the planning process easier to understand and navigate. Part of that effort is to provide more visual means to review the local area from a planning policy perspective. My own local planning authority of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC) have quite a good interactive planning policy map. It’s possible to show local Green Belt in the area including any amendments (increase/reductions) which have been made. If your local planning authority provides such an interactive map, this should be your primary source of information. If your local authority has not as yet provided such an interactive map you can still use Magic Map to review if your property lies within the Green Belt.

Do properties within the Green Belt have Permitted Development Rights?

Many people start to investigate what the Green Belt is from a perspective of investigating what restrictions there are on development. As the Government and Local Authorities place such significant weight on protecting the openness of the Green Belt you may be surprised to learn that permitted development rights (PD) do exist. Essentially within the curtilage of your home, there are no specific restrictions on PD for properties in the Green Belt. Therefore once the original size of the dwelling is accurately understood, PD often serves as an excellent means to extend a dwelling in the Green Belt. Furthermore, when it comes to dwelling extensions outside of PD or a replacement dwelling, PD rights can help to justify proposals.

Remember, when it comes to PD it’s very easy to think a proposal is acceptable under the rules, only to later find out your local planning enforcement department has issues with what you’ve built. Therefore I often recommend submitting a Lawful Development
Certificate for proposed works
before you actually start to build. It can save making a very expensive mistake and it also helps to sell a property with evidence the works comply with PD rules.

Can you still extend properties located within the Green Belt?

If you can not achieve the type of development you’re looking for under PD rights, you can submit a Householder Planning Application. This process is the same for properties not within the Green Belt. However, to extend a property within the Green Belt a tougher test needs to be passed. Both on a national planning policy (NPPF) and local planning policy level.

Green Belt Extensions
I was able to secure planning permission to extend my own dwelling which is located in the Stoke-on-Trent Green Belt

With regards to extending a building within the Green Belt the NPPF states the following:

(c) the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;”

The term disproportionate may be open for interpretation. However, some local development plans specifically state a percentage above the original dwelling they will accept. Typically around 30% over the size of the original dwelling is accepted. Therefore as with PD rights, having an accurate understanding of the size of the original dwelling is imperative. Remaining PD rights for a dwelling can come in handy. If you can successfully demonstrate the property still holds PD rights to extend, these can be used to justify that the proposed extension plans while not PD are also not disproportionate.

What is Inappropriate Development?

When it comes to any development in the Green Belt (outside of PD) it will be determined if the proposals are considered to be ‘inappropriate development’. Point 143 of the NPPF states that inappropriate development is considered to cause harm to the Green Belt. Proposals which cause harm to the Green Belt will do so through by being in conflict to the five purposes of the Green Belt as stated above. Moreover, by doing harm to reduce the openness of the Green Belt. This harm can only be overcome in ‘very special circumstances’. There are also exceptions to development referenced below.

What are Very Special Circumstances?

If your proposals are deemed to be inappropriate development and do not fall under an exemption category, you will need to demonstrate ‘very special circumstances’. So what can be determined to be very special circumstances? Well, this is a typical case in planning where a lot of different perspectives and interpretations come into play. However, an example would be PD rights which have been effectively demonstrated to exist. PD rights can be effectively demonstrated through the approval of a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) for proposed works.

It’s potentially possible to demonstrate a collective of individual circumstances while not ‘special’ on their own merit are special collectively. These could be for instance high-quality design, a high degree of sustainability (low energy consumption/renewable energy measures) and improvements to landscaping/biodiversity. However, each case is different, and the decision maker will apply what ‘weight’ they believe is appropriate to the circumstances.

Building a New Dwelling

With regards to planning applications for new dwellings within the Green Belt, line 145 of the NPPF needs to be acknowledged:

“145. A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt.” 

However, there are exceptions to this rule which include buildings for agriculture, forestry and leisure (outdoor sports). However, proposals must still ‘preserve the openness’ of the Green Belt and not conflict the five purposes stated at the start of this post. Therefore it’s possible in some cases to secure permission for an agricultural worker dwelling. However, this can be a tough test to pass in terms of establishing a genuine need. Furthermore, a planning condition would be attached to the property.

What is Limited Infilling?

Another approach to building a new dwelling within the Green Belt is under the exception of development stated in the NPPF of:

(e) limited infilling in villages;”

So the exception of development comes down to the interpretation of ‘limited’ and ‘villages’. Some local planning policy documents may provide an indication of what they consider to be ‘limited’. It will generally refer to a maximum of two, perhaps three new dwellings filling in between existing development. The term ‘villages’ is also up for interpretation. There are decisions where a local planning authority has not considered the location of a proposal to be within a village as it was not stated as such in their settlement hierarchy. However, upon appeal, the Inspectorate has determined otherwise, based on the number of dwellings and the character of the area.

With infilling developments its important to note that the location must still be deemed to be sustainable. For instance, is there good access within a reasonable walking distance to public transport and other local services (shops etc). Modern planning has a heavy focus on sustainability and this will need to be demonstrated to secure approval.

Reuse of an Existing Building as a Dwelling

From reading the above it should be clear that outside of limited infilling, securing approval for a new dwelling in the Green Belt from scratch is very challenging. However, there is another means to create a dwelling, through the redevelopment of an existing structure. Under point 146 of the NPPF development which is not regarded as inappropriate includes:

“(d) the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction;”

I referenced this particular part of the NPPF to secure approval for my own dwelling in 2014. To demonstrate the building was of ‘permanent and substantial construction’ I commissioned a structural engineers report and included it with the planning application.

Replacement Buildings and Dwellings

Under section 145 of the NPPF with regards to proposals affecting the Green Belt the following applies:

(d) the replacement of a building provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;”

This is where PD rights can again come into use. A Lawful Development Certificate can be used to demonstrate the existing dwelling could be extended through PD. Those PD extensions can then be factored into the size of the dwellings. Therefore the design of the new replacement dwelling can be based on the existing dwelling + PD extensions.

Renewable Energy projects on Green Belt land

When it comes to solar and wind projects within the Green Belt, line 147 of the NPPF needs to be considered:

“147. When located in the Green Belt, elements of many renewable energy projects will comprise inappropriate development. In such cases developers will need to demonstrate very special circumstances if projects are to proceed. Such very special circumstances may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources.”

Solar Projects

Therefore it is possible to secure approval for a solar installation on the basis that the power generated is considered as a very special circumstance. However, if the proposals are particularly prominent within the landscape and are determined to have a significant negative impact on Green Belt openness, the proposals may still result in a refusal. Each case is judged on its own merits and projects that do secure approval the decision is often finely balanced.

Wind Projects

However, currently in 2019 onshore wind turbine developments face a much tougher test than solar projects. With the introduction of the 2015 Written Ministerial Statement (WMS) with regards to onshore wind, new onshore wind projects are few and far between. The 2015 WMS has now been included in the NPPF as a footnote and reads as follows:

49 Except for applications for the repowering of existing wind turbines, a proposed wind energy development involving one or more turbines should not be considered acceptable unless it is in an area identified as suitable for wind energy development in the development plan; and, following consultation, it can be demonstrated that the planning impacts identified by the affected local community have been fully addressed and the proposal has their backing.”

Very few local development plans have identified areas suitable for wind energy development. Therefore trying to secure approval for a wind energy development within land designated as Green Belt in 2019 is not a realistic option. However, planning policies change and a policy such as this could change under a new Government.

How to get Planning Permission for development in the Green Belt?

One of the first steps to secure planning permission within the Green Belt is to conduct a planning application search. You want to review planning decisions and appeals from local properties located in the Green Belt. Ideally, you want to find recent decisions for very similar developments to your own proposals. As referenced above many local planning authorities now provide interactive planning maps. These can be very helpful indeed, you can turn on the Green Belt layer and set the date range for decisions and start your search. Reviewing the approvals and refusals for proposals can provide some very helpful guidance to shape your proposals.

The Importance of Good Design

When it comes to rural locations (and especially the Green Belt) good design can be what tips the planning balance to approval. For instance, paragraph 79 of the NPPF regards isolated homes in the countryside.

(e) the design is of exceptional quality, in that it:

  • is truly outstanding or innovative, reflecting the highest standards in architecture, and would help to raise standards of design more generally in rural areas; and
  • would significantly enhance its immediate setting, and be sensitive to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

Furthermore, paragraph 131 states the following:

“131. In determining applications, great weight should be given to outstanding or innovative designs which promote high levels of sustainability, or help raise the standard of design more generally in an area, so long as they fit in with the overall form and layout of their surroundings.”

Therefore, if you were looking to secure approval for a new dwelling from scratch in the Green Belt the above paragraphs of the NPPF need to be carefully considered by your architect. It’s also important to review any available supplementary design guidance provided by your local planning authority. To secure approval for projects in the Green Belt it often relies on a close working relationship with the architect and planning consultant.

Planning Assitance with Green Belt Projects

If your property is located in the Green Belt and you have a project in mind please get in touch. We can discuss your ideas and a strategy to go about trying to secure planning permission 🙂

Do you need Planning Permission for a Dormer?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

The fact that your reading this post probably means you understand what a dormer is. However, its best not to presume, so below I will briefly discuss what a dormer is and the reasons why you may want to install a dormer. Then later in the post, we will discuss whether you will require planning permission to install a dormer on your property. First, for those of you in a rush, I’ll provide a quick answer to the question. However, I would encourage you to read the full article to fully understand the various scenarios.

Do you need Planning Permission for a Dormer?

If your dwelling retains its permitted development rights it’s likely you can install a dormer on either the side or rear elevations of your property. However, you cannot install a dormer on the principal elevation (facing the road) on your property without submitting a householder planning application.

What is a Dormer?

Large Flat Roof Dormer
Example of a large flat roofed dormer – Image: dezeen.com

A dormer is a structure which projects vertically from a pitched roof. Typically the dormer will contain a window. There are many different styles of dormer window. Some dormers replicate the style and pitch of the roof on which they are located. Others have flat roofs. Some dormers purely project from within the roof while others are referred to as a wall dormer. The common reason to introduce a dormer is to create additional head height and usable space. Often as part of a loft conversion. Dormers are also used to increase the amount of natural light into the room. However, roof lights such as Velux windows are also commonly used to increase the amount of natural light within rooms located in the roof space.

Dormers and Permitted Development (PD) Rights

So as mentioned in the ‘highlight’ answer to the question you can possibly install a dormer under permitted development rights (PD). A dormer comes under Class B of the General Permitted Development Order 2015 (GDPO). However, you should never presume your dwelling still holds its permitted development rights. For instance, previous planning permissions may have removed some or all of the properties PD rights. Therefore, if you do intend to install a dormer under the impression it complies with PD you may consider a Lawful Development Certificate to check.

Where can you Install a Dormer under PD Rights?

You can position a dormer on the side or rear roof elevations of your property. However, with PD there are various rules to the design of the dormer which you must adhere to, such as:

  • The top of the dormer cannot be higher than the ridgeline of the dwelling.
  • The volume of the dormer must be under 40m3 for a semi-detached property and under 50m3 for a detached property.
  • You cannot install a dormer as part of a raised balcony, verandah or any sort of raised platform.
  • The dormer must be set back 20cm for the roof eaves and must not project beyond the outside face of the wall.
  • The materials would need to be similar to the existing roofing materials of the property.
  • Side windows in the dormer would need to be obscurely glazed and non-opening.
  • If your property is located within Article 2(3) land which includes Conservation Areas, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty or a National Park you cannot install a dormer under PD rights.

The Volume of the Dormer and your Original Dwelling

As you will note from the bullet points above, PD rights set restrictions on the volume of the dormer. For semi-detached properties, the increase in volume must be under 40m3 and for a detached dwelling under 50m3. However, the actual wording from the 2015 GDPO states the following:

“(d)the cubic content of the resulting roof space would exceed the cubic content of the original roof space

Therefore the term original roof space is important, as it refers to the original dwelling. So, if your property has had previous extensions to the roof over the ‘original dwelling’ you will have to discount that increase in volume. Say for instance a previous owner received planning approval for a dormer on the principal elevation of the property. The volume of that dormer will have to be discounted from the maximum size of the side or rear dormer you can install under PD. So you would no longer be able to install an additional dormer up to the maximum of 40m3 and 50m3 respectively.

Householder Planning Permission for a Dormer on the Principle Elevation

So let’s presume you want to install a dormer on the principal elevation of your property. As previously discussed, you would need to submit a householder planning application to secure approval for the works. Before an application is submitted its important to review the street scene of the area and if any front facing dormers on neighbouring properties currently exist. In other words, will a dormer be seen a consistent with the local vernacular or an alien design feature?

The Design of the Dormer

When it comes to planning proposals they do not necessarily have to match the designs of neighbouring properties, but they must appear to sit comfortably within the character of the area. Therefore, if the prevailing design feature of other dormers on the neighbouring properties have a hipped roof, it’s likely the local planning officer will be looking for a similar design. This also ties into the use of materials. You should be specific on the planning application on the materials you intend to use. For instance, specifying a darker glazing frame to match the existing roof materials may help the dormer to appear less prominent. You may consider requesting pre-application advice from your local planning authority if you believe your planning application may be contentious.

Steel Flat Roofed Dormer
This dormer is faced in bare weathering-steel for a very modern design approach – Image: dezeen.com

Being vague with a planning application can create various problems. First, it could even lead to refusal as the planning officer may deem the applicant provided insufficient detail to approve the application. Another possible consequence is approval with a materials condition attached to the permission. This would then require a discharge of conditions application. Therefore additional time and effort for something that could have been addressed during the original planning application.

Reading Local Planning Authority Design Guidance before seeking Planning Permission

It’s often a good idea to try and find out if your local authority has published any local design guidance. Such documents are not equivalent to local planning policy, however, they may be given weigh in the ‘planning balance’ when it comes to making a decision. For instance, my own local planning authority in the Staffordshire Moorlands specify in their design guidance that they preference ‘cheeked’ dormers to suit local design characteristics. Cheeked dormers have vertical side wall projections opposed to the sides of the dormer being pitched to meet the roof surface.

Cheeked Dormer Windows
An example of cheeked dormer windows – Image: Homebuilding.co.uk

Conclusions on do you need Planning Permission for a Dormer

Dormers can be crucial design feature for some loft conversions to provide the required head height and useable space. However, poorly designed dormers and a poor choice of materials can negatively impact the property. Therefore it’s a good idea to review existing properties within the local area to asses different design ideas. As stated above, you do require planning permission for a dormer window on the principal elevation of your property. To secure approval it will require a design and scale which is sympathetic to your own property and neighbouring properties. If you require assistance to secure a lawful development certificate or planning approval for a dormer, please get in touch. 🙂

Do I Need Planning Permission for my Garage?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

When it comes to garages there are lots of different circumstances involved which dictate whether you need planning permission. For instance, you may have an existing garage which you wish to convert into additional living space. Alternatively, you may simply wish to construct a new garage on your property for your car or storage purposes. Whether you need planning permission for the works will depend on several variables. Some of the circumstances stated above can come under permitted development rights, where others will require a householder planning application. Below I’ll try to provide several examples, however, each real-world scenario normally has its own circumstances which need attention.

Garages and Permitted Development Rights (PD)

It is possible to construct a garage under permitted development rights, provided it is not forward of the principal elevation of your property. The principal elevation is (generally) determined by the walls of the property which face the public highway. So as a general rule to comply with PD, the garage can be off to the side of the dwelling. Potentially even behind the property if there is access. However, there are several other limitations in terms of the size and height of the garage.

No more than 50% of the area within the curtilage of the dwelling (not including the original dwelling) can be developed. If the garage is to be constructed with a mono pitched roof the maximum height is 3m, with a pitched roof its 4m. The exception is if the garage would be positioned within 2m of the property boundary, then the maximum height is limited to 2.5m.

More than One Garage Within The Same Curtilage?

This is where things can get tricky. There are cases where multiple garages have been constructed on a property. The individual believes they are still complying with the 50% PD rule. While this may be the case, the PD rules also state that all outbuildings need to be ‘incidental’ to the main dwelling. There have been appeals against the refusal of Lawful Development Certificates for additional garages which the Planning Inspectorate have dismissed. The appeals were dismissed on the basis additional garage space is not ‘reasonably’ required for a single dwelling. This provides an example of why with PD development it’s still best to check with a Lawful Development Certificate. You can find out if the works will be considered PD by the Local Authority/Planning Inspectorate.

Timber Garage Planning Permission
More than two garages on one dwelling may not be interpreted as permitted development – Image: Passmores.co.uk

Garages and Planning Permission

If it’s not possible to construct the garage under PD here are a few tips when applying for planning permission. Investigate if there are other garages within your street which are forward of the buildings principle elevation. If not, you may get resistance from the local authority to approve the application due to the disruption of the building line or street scene. To try and mitigate the impact of the garage on the street scene. Keep the proposed height and general mass/scale to a minimum. Furthermore, try and propose materials that will complement the street scene instead of being in contrast to it.

Timber Garage Street Scene Planning Permission
Will a timber garage compliment the street scene of the area? Image: Passmores.co.uk

If you know that you will require planning permission for the garage as it will not come under PD, then it might be a good idea to ask your local authority for some pre-application advice. Furthermore, searching for planning permissions around your local area for garages can provide useful insight into what to expect with your own planning application.

Converting an Existing Attached Garage into Additional Living Space

So let’s say for instance you have a garage which was included/attached as part of the original dwelling. You may now feel that this space could be better utilised as additional living space. For instance, it could be used to extend the size of your kitchen or create a downstairs toilet/bedroom etc. A garage conversion of this kind can often be completed under permitted development rights, provided the works do follow the rules of the current 2015 General Permitted Development Order (GDPO). Which includes:

  • Works do not protrude forward of the principal elevation, no bay windows for instance.
  • Materials (brickwork, windows, doors) used to fill in where the garage door was will match the existing dwellings materials or are deemed similar.
Garage Conversion to Kitchen Diner
Garage conversion into kitchen diner. Image: homebuilding.co.uk

However, some properties cannot benefit from permitted development rights as they may have been removed. Therefore it is often a good idea to have your plans drawn up and to submit a Lawful Development Certificate to your local authority for the proposed works before you start. The cost of this application is half that of a householder planning application, therefore currently it’s £103.

What About Converting a Detached Garage into Additional Living Space?

In this scenario, you would need to complete a householder planning application. Furthermore, various other factors will come into play, such as the relevant local plan/core strategy and local planning policies. For instance, linking a previously detached garage to a dwelling will increase the floor area of the dwelling. Local policies may place restrictions on what percentage increase over the original dwelling is deemed acceptable.

Furthermore, there may be local policies on the minimum number of car parking spaces a dwelling requires. For a three to four bed dwelling its quite common to see a local planning policy request sufficient space for two to three vehicles. Therefore you may need to consider converting part of the front garden into additional parking.

What About Converting a Detached Garage into a Separate Family Annexe?

Garage to family annexe conversion
Garage to family annexe conversion. Image: homebuilding.co.uk

Under permitted development rights it’s not possible to convert a detached garage into a family annexe, it would require planning permission. There may be resistance from the local authority towards such an application, particularly if the property is located in the Greenbelt for instance. To secure planning permission its best to propose as little alteration to the exterior of the garage as possible. Limiting the amount of glazing/fenestration introduced is one example. Depending on the position of the garage and neighbouring properties there maybe amenity issues to consider. Therefore obscured glazing may be required to mitigate these issues. Also, don’t be surprised if the local authority upon approval attaches a condition to the garage conversion for family use only.

Conclusions – Do I Need Planning Permission For a Garage?

The location, size and use of the garage are all relevant factors which will dictate whether you will require planning permission. If you need assistance with your project please send me a message and we can discuss your proposals. It may be worth looking at the planning history of your property to see if the garage has a planning condition which restricts it’s used for storage of a vehicle. Thanks for reading! 🙂

What is the Size of Your Original Dwelling?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

If your looking to extend your home or replace your dwelling you may have come across the term ‘original dwelling‘. But what does it actually mean and why is it so important when it comes to trying to secure planning permission? Let’s start with the planning definition of the original dwelling:

What does the term ‘Original Dwelling’ mean?

How the dwelling stood as of July 1st 1948. If contrusted after this date as it first stood.

Why is the Original Dwelling set on July 1st 1948?

On July 1st 1948 the Town and Country Planning Act 1947 came into force. This act of Parliament is the basis for modern planning in the UK and has been extended and amended several times over the decades. As this point in time is seen as the starting point for modern planning law, this date also set the point at which the size of a dwelling would be regarded as the ‘original’.

The Original Dwelling and National Planning Policy (NPPF)

In terms of national planning policy when the term original dwelling comes into play is with regards to properties within the Greenbelt. One of the main purposes of the Greenbelt is to ‘preserve openness’. Therefore, any development which reduces openness within the Greenbelt is seen to be inappropriate. However, there are exceptions to this rule, for instance, there are exceptions with regards to dwellings. Those rules are under section 145 of the NPPF, and are as follows:

(c) the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;

(d) the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;

Therefore the determined size of the original dwelling when located in the greenbelt should be the starting point for any potential designs. One thing to note about the Greenbelt is that basements do not impact on openness. Therefore this could be a design consideration on a replacement dwelling to gain additional floorspace.

How Do You Prove The Size of the Original Dwelling?

So what sort of evidence can be used to demonstrate the size of the original dwelling, and what weight can be given to that evidence. First and foremost, it might be a good idea as part of pre-application planning advice from your local authority to ask them what evidence they have. They may provide evidence of an OS map which is not in the public domain. For instance, I’ll often use Old-maps.co.uk, but there is often gaps in the record.

Finding the Right OS Map as Evidence

So let’s presume we are looking into a building which is older than July 1st 1948. What date of OS map and type of map are we looking for? We really want to find a map as close to that date as possible, ideally just before July 1st 1948. The reason being any previous extensions before that date will be counted as the ‘original’. Furthermore, we need an OS map at a suitable scale. We want to be able to measure the floor area of the dwelling, therefore a 1:10,560 map is really no good to us. The scale of OS map you want to find is 1:2,500, that’s the scale of the most detailed OS maps available from around July 1st 1948.

Old Planning Applications as Evidence for the Size of the Original Dwelling

You may be able to search for old planning applications online through your local authorities website. Otherwise, as part of your pre-application discussions ask if there are any records of older applications which do not feature online. In there are you should be able to go down to the local council offices to view the applications. Unfortunately, if you ask them to send copies via email it is likely the council will charge you. Within these older applications there maybe floorplans which can be used as evidence for the original dwelling. Obviously, you want to find planning applications as close to July 1st 1948 as possible. If the plans are a few years after 1948 it may be possible to ‘reasonably’ argue the size of the original dwelling.

Local Planning Policies Based on the Size of the Original Dwelling

Under national planning policy, there is local planning policy. This will be covered under a document called either the Local Plan or the Core Strategy. Within this document, there may be policies specifically about extending or replacing dwellings in open countryside or the Greenbelt. For instance, there may be planning policy restrictions based on a percentage of the original dwelling. It’s quite common to see a limit of up to 30% allowed over the size of the original dwelling. However, each area and each local plan is different.

Permitted Development Rights are a ‘Material Consideration’

Once appropriate evidence of the size of the original dwelling as been sourced, there may be a problem. Your proposals may be significantly more than the size of the original dwelling. However, there may still be a way to secure approval for the proposals. It involves accurately demonstrating the full permitted development rights of the property. If this can be done successfully then these permitted development right will be considered a ‘material consideration’ in a planning decision. Commonly referred to as the ‘fall back position’ of the applicant.

If your proposals under planning permission are approved, then its highly likely the permitted development rights for the property will be removed. Using permitted development rights to illustrate what ‘could’ lawfully be done to a property can be a powerful tool. Even more so now that it appears the Larger Homes Extension will become a permanent right.

Conclusions on the Size of the Original Dwelling

It’s worth spending some time or getting a planning consultant such as myself to look into the size of your original dwelling. You then need to consider existing extensions. Only then should you spend time on designing your proposals. You should also note that a detached garage is unlikely to be regarded as part of the ‘dwelling’. Demonstrating permitted development rights effectively could also be the difference between approval and refusal of a planning application.

Larger Home Extension Scheme Update

Larger Home Extensions are Here To Stay

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold a Master of Arts in Planning Built Environments and work as a Planning Consultant

Since May 30th 2013 homeowners whose properties still hold PD rights have been able to build larger home extensions. Those rights included the following for single-storey rear extensions:

  • For semi-detached dwellings, the extension limit increased from 3m to 6m.
  • For detached dwellings, the extension limit increased from 4m to 8m.

These rules were set to end on the 30th of May 2019. There has been a rush to submit and receive approval through the prior notification system for larger home extensions. Unlike planning permission where approval applies for several years, in this case, the rights ended on May 30th 2019. Therefore the work had to be completed and the local authority informed before this date. If not, and the rights expired it was possible that local enforcement departs could get involved.

Larger Home Extension Scheme Kitchen
With the Large Home Extension Scheme its been possible to make new large open plan layouts without planning permission

Update on Larger Home Extensions – March 2019

On the 13th of March 2019, the current Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire released a Ministerial Statement which you can read here. Within this statement, there was information on amendments to various permitted development rights. Of particular interest was this statement:

“We will also make permanent the time-limited right to build larger single storey rear extensions to dwellinghouses and to introduce a proportionate fee.”

Currently to take advantage of the larger homes extension PD rights you have to submit a Notification of Prior Approval form to your local authority. As part of that process, your neighbours are made aware of your larger home extension proposals. If one neighbour raises an objection the local authority will review the amenity impacts of your proposal. The local authority will then make a determination within 42 days if the effect on amenity is acceptable or not.

Notably up until now to submit a Notification of Prior Approval was free. From the Written Ministerial Statement from March 13th it now appears a fee will be introduced for this application. Other prior approval applications for agricultural and forestry applications currently incur a fee of £96. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if this fee was introduced for larger home extension prior approval applications.

Larger Home Extensions and the Fall Back Position

I’m sure many other architects and planning consultants will be very happy to see the larger home extension PD rights will become permanent. It can often provide more options for a client to achieve the scale of development they are looking for without the need for planning permission. Using the larger home extension rights along with other PD rights for side extensions, dormers etc can significantly increase the size of a dwelling. However, these PD rights can also be useful to demonstrate a ‘fall back position’ to provide support for a planning application.

What is the Fall Back Position?

A court case in 2014 (Gambone v SSCLG and Wolverhampton City Council [2014] EWHC 952) considered the ‘fall back’ position. The question being is there “a greater than theoretical possibility”  that other development may take place as an alternative to the proposals.

So let’s say for instance you are looking to build a replacement home and there are various policy restrictions in place. Green Belt restrictions are a good example. Current Green Belt policy states that the replacement dwelling must not be “materially larger than the one it replaces“.

With PD rights such as a larger home extension, you can often demonstrate that significant additions could lawfully be made. Before submitting the planning application for the replacement home, you submit and receive approval for the larger home extension via the notification of prior approval. You should also secure a lawful development certificate for other PD rights, such as side extensions and dormers. Finally, as part of your submitted plans for the replacement dwelling, illustrate all of the PD rights and calculate floor areas.

Through the above, it can be possible to secure approval in some cases for a larger replacement dwelling, above what planning policy may appear to allow. Through effectively demonstrating the ‘fall back’ position you have made the PD rights a material consideration in the determination of your planning application for a replacement dwelling.

Following all the PD Rules

As stated above the maximum depth of the extension is either 6m or 8m in their respective cases. However, you still need to follow the other PD rules:

  • The extension cannot lead to development of over 50% of the dwellings curtilage.
  • Not allowed on Article 2 (3) land, Conservation Areas or a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).
  • Cannot be part of a rear two-storey extension.
  • Eaves height below 3m if within 2m of the property boundary.
  • Extension eaves to be no higher than the eaves of the existing house.
  • A maximum height of 4m, and below the ridgeline of the existing house.

Assistance With Larger Home Extension Permitted Development Rights

Do you need assistance to check if your home still holds its PD rights? Are you sure a larger home extension is viable for your property? I can conduct a planning history review of your property to check if PD rights were removed. Please use the contact form to provide details of your property. 🙂

Planning Permission Search Tips

Searching for the ‘One’

A little Matrix reference there to start, but basically, that’s what this post is about. How to search and find that one particular planning permission you’re looking for. Well with this post I’m going to give some tips when using your local planning authorities websites on how to find planning permission applications.

You may be searching for a particular planning permission because its similar to a project you’re planning. In my case, if a client has a project which may be contentious, I try to find similar previous decisions. I’ll then review the planning officers report and read their interpretation of the planning issues discussed.

It’s always important to remember that each case in planning is different and will be judged on its own merits. However, what previous planning permissions can be used for are examples of how the policy was applied. While each case is judged on its own merits there also needs to be consistency on how local policy is applied.

TIP 1: Start with the Post Code alone

Now with some local authority planning application search boxes if you don’t type the address exactly as they have it on record it will return no results. Therefore it’s best to start with just the postcode. Also, try the post with a space and without a space, this can also effect if you get results or not.

Improved Planning Permission Search Options

Obviously, local planning authorities have provided the ability for many years now to search via their websites. However, until the last couple of years, you have only been able to use text search. Therefore you would need the address of the property. Well in some cases you do not know the address of the property, or you are trying to do a more general search. In these cases, text search can be quite painful, and often return ‘no results found’ when that’s actually not the case.

TIP 2: Look for the ‘Search by Map’ Option

Within the last couple of years, interactive mapping has been made available by many local authorities on their planning websites. In some cases such as with the Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, you can enable options such as Green Belt and it will shade the map accordingly. Functions such as this are so useful for a planning consultant such as my self to evaluate a proposal.

What you can also do in many cases is search on the map for ongoing planning applications and previous planning permissions. Being able to visually see the location of the application often makes it much quicker to find what you’re looking for.

TIP 3: Make Good Use of the Date Functions

Just searching via a postcode will often return far more results than you are really interested in. Therefore a good way to narrow down your search is to use the date range criteria. You can select a start date and end date for your search.

For example, I may wish to search for applications that received planning permission after a new local plan was adopted. I will then enter the start date of my search after the local plan was adopted.

TIP 4: Search via Application Type

If you know the application you are looking for was for a home extension, then search for a householder planning application. However, if the extension was completed under PD then you will not find planning permission for the works. Therefore also search for an LDC, as they may have (recommended) submitted one to the council.

TIP 5: Don’t Forget the Appeal Search

At the bottom of most the planning search options, there is a date range to search for appeals. This is also a very useful tool, particularly if your local authority has informed you via pre-application advice that your proposals are inappropriate.

Local Authority Search Quick Links

So below I’ve provided quick links to the planning search pages of my local planning authorities. However, please note I can provide planning advice to other parts of England.

Planning Help to Secure Permission

If you’re looking to extend your home or any other form of small scale development which will require some form of permission and you need assistance, please get in touch. Click here to learn more about me and use the contact form to drop me a message so we can discuss your proposals. 🙂




Do I need Planning Permission for a Garage Conversion?

The Attraction of a Garage Conversion

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 maybe 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:

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 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, 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 guessing work 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. 🙂

Do I need Planning Permission for a Conservatory?

Building a Conservatory Under Permitted Development Rights

If you have been browsing other websites you are probably aware that in many circumstances you can construct a conservatory on your property under permitted development rights. This means you would not require planning permission, but there are various conditions that the conservatory needs to meet:

  • No more than 50% of the land within the domestic curtilage can be developed. This will include existing outbuildings.
  • The conservatory must not extend past the principal elevation of the property which faces the highway.
  • Until May 2019 the conservatory can extend beyond the rear wall of the original detached dwelling up to 8m, and up to 6m for a semi-detached dwelling. After May 2019 this will revert back to 4m and 3m respectively.
  • The height of the conservatory must be a maximum of 4m for a pitched roof, and 3m for a mono-pitched roof. If within 2m of the property boundary the maximum eaves height must be 2.5m.

Now, this is all pretty standard information available through the Planning Portal. However, with this blog, I want to look at scenarios where you may come unstuck following these ‘simple rules’ without a proper review of your properties planning history. Furthermore, without going down the route of applying for a Lawful Development Certificate.

Have your Permitted Development Rights been Removed?

If you review the rules around permitted development you may feel pretty confident your conservatory plans are within the rules. However, there is a scenario that many people are not aware of. Your property may not be able to benefit from the permitted development rights.

There are two possible reasons. First, on the approval of a previous extension the local authority removed the permitted development rights via condition. Alternatively, your property may be located in an area covered under an Article 4 direction. The Article 4 direction may have removed all or some of the properties permitted development rights.

I have a Previous Extension, Can I Link my Conservatory to it?

No, under permitted development rules you cannot build an extension and link it to a previous extension. Extensions including conservatories must be built and measured from the original wall of the dwelling. This is a good example of where it’s important to review the planning history of a property. There are cases where individuals have not realised the property has been previously extended and constructed a new conservatory. Only to have a visit from the local planning enforcement officer telling them the development does not come under PD, as it is linked to a previous extension.

Claiming ignorance is not an acceptable defence when it comes to planning enforcement matters. Therefore you want to make sure with a planning history review and Lawful Development Certificate you avoid future planning enforcement issues.

Planning History Review before a Lawful Development Certificate

In many cases, I think it’s a good idea to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate before you construct a conservatory. This will get a formal response from your local authority to confirm if they accept the proposed conservatory as lawful, and exempt from enforcement action. As stated above the local authority will determine if they believe there have been previous extensions etc which the conservatory would be linked to. However, without your own planning history review, you will have no counter-evidence to the council’s claims.

For instance, the local authority may claim that the property has been previously extended, but is there sufficient evidence to justify this claim? In some cases, there is a previous planning application as evidence. However without such evidence and using old OS maps it may be possible to reasonably conclude that the claimed previous extensions existed before the 1st of July 1948. If that’s the case in planning terms they should be regarded as part of the original dwelling.

I own a Listed Building, can I add a Conservatory without Planning Permission?

It may be possible to add a conservatory to your Listed Building without planning permission, following permitted development rules. However, you will need to submit a Listed Building Consent application in all cases. As part of the Listed Building Consent application, you will need to demonstrate that your proposed conservatory would not have a detrimental impact on the character of the Listed Building. Therefore, proposing a uPVC conservatory will almost certainly result in a refusal of Listed Building Consent (LBC).

To secure approval of LBC requires favourable feedback from the local conservation officer. Some local conservation officers will be looking for the design of the conservatory to be in keeping. This could include the use of timber fenestration and a heritage colour palette etc. However, in other cases, they may be looking for any proposed conservatory to be obviously modern. They may prefer it to be instantly obvious were the old meets the new. However, in either case, your proposals must not detract from the heritage value of the Listed Building.

I live in a Conservation Area, how does that affect my Conservatory plans and Planning Permission?

As referenced above, if your property is based in a Conservation Area, it’s likely your permitted development rights may have been removed by an Article 4 Direction. However, it’s always important to check what the particular Article 4 Direction actually states. Where some are a sweeping removal of all permitted development rights, others are more specific. However, when it comes to extensions such as a conservatory, it’s likely those permitted development rights have been removed. Therefore a planning application would be required. Most conservation areas have character appraisal reports, these need to be reviewed to direct the design of the conservatory proposal.

Assistance to Secure Planning Permission for a Conservatory

So as you can gather from the above, a ‘simple’ conservatory extension can sometimes throw up several planning challenges. If you send me your details through the contact form we can discuss your conservatory ideas and whether planning permission is likely to be required. 🙂

What is Your Properties Curtilage?

The ‘Basic’ Definition of Curtilage

So let’s start off with the most basic understanding of your properties curtilage, that it is the area of land immediately around the property. It can include associated outbuildings but it is separate from any open fields beyond. When it comes to planning permission and permitted development rights, the determined size of your properties curtilage can have significant impacts on your proposals.

The determined size of your curtilage could have impacts on your proposals for outbuildings within your garden. For instance garden sheds, summer houses or even horse stables in your garden

Domestic Curtilage and Permitted Development Rights

You may already be aware that with permitted development rights (if you have them) you can construct extensions and outbuildings under certain criteria. With regards to your curtilage, there is a specific condition that you cannot develop over 50% of the curtilage of the original dwelling house, excluding the ground area of the original house. Therefore how the local authority defines your curtilage is very important.

The Use of Old Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps

So the original dwelling is determined on its footprint as of July 1st 1948. If your property was constructed after this date it is the footprint of how the property was first built. Determining the size of the original dwellings curtilage can be easier said than done. However, a common tool which I use and which your local authority will use is to review old OS maps. With regards to the original curtilage of the dwelling, an old OS map may be of assistance. It may provide evidence to reasonably conclude the size of the original curtilage. 

Your Planning Unit vs Your Curtilage

Now, talking about this topic can get very confusing and very technical. That’s not what I want these posts to be about. I want the ‘average’ person to get some idea of the challenges and issues that the planning system presents. My aim is to express how important the ‘finer details’ are to a developments success or failure.

It’s often easier to use examples to explain a topic. Therefore below I’m going to provide a brief summary of a legal case from 2017 around the interpretation of a properties curtilage. You can read a far more in-depth review on the excellent blog by Martin Goodall

Burford v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government and Test Valley Borough Council (2017)

Setting the Scene

In this case, the appellant had constructed an outbuilding on land which they interpreted to be within the curtilage of their dwelling. They had a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) from their local authority to confirm that the land in question could be used for purposes incidental to the enjoyment of their dwelling-house. During the case, all parties agreed the land in question was part of the same ‘planning unit’ as the dwelling. Furthermore, that the land could be used for purposes incidental to the dwelling.

On first impressions, the development would appear to be in compliance with the requirements of the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO). However, it was not agreed that the land on which the outbuilding was located was part of the original dwellings curtilage.

Not Part of the Original Dwellings Curtilage

The judge determined that the land in question was not part of the original dwellings curtilage. This was despite of the Lawful Development Certificate for incidental residential use. The land in question appeared physically separate. Furthermore, prior to October 2014 it also appeared to be in use as a paddock. Therefore the judge determined that the outbuilding was therefore not lawful development under permitted development rights. 

Curtilage Case Conclusions

So the case above makes it clear that just because you may believe ( or even have a LDC) for land to be used for residential purposes, it is not necessarily determined to be part of the original dwelling curtilage. It also shows the risks of proceeding with construction before the lawful status of a development is established.

As stated on Martin’s blog, the appellant should have submitted a LDC for the building itself. During that application, the local authority would confirm if they regarded the location as part of the original curtilage of the dwelling. If the applicant disagreed then they could have appealed against the refusal of the LDC. This case is also a good example of where pre-application planning advice could be useful before proceeding with development.

Planning Help

If you wish to submit a planning application or lawful development certificate and you have questions around the size of the curtilage of your property please get in touch. We can discuss if the size of your curtilage is likely to be disputed by your local authority. We can also discuss the available evidence to reasonably conclude the size of the curtilage of your original dwelling. 🙂

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