Do you need Planning Permission for a Dormer?

Planning Consultant - Chris Scott
Hi, I’m Chris,
I hold an MA in Planning 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:

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 extension 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:

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:

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 an MA in Planning 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:

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:

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:

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:

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 an MA in Planning 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, 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 an MA in Planning 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’

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

A little reference to the Matrix film there to start, but basically, that’s what this post is about. How to search to 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 website 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. The weight that is given to each material planning consideration changes in the planning balance. 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.

Planning Permission Search Tips
A fairly typical search box for planning applications, this example is from Staffordshire Moorlands District Council (SMDC)

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 their records it will return no results. Therefore it’s best to start with just the postcode. Also, try the postcode with a space and without a space, this can also effect if you get any 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 very useful for a planning consultant such as my self to evaluate a proposal.

Planning permission search map
A screen show of the online mapping provided by SDMC highlighting the Green Belt.

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 one may have been 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.

Planning appeal search
An example from the SMDC website of how you can search for previous appeal decisions.

Local Authority Search Quick Links

So below I’ve provided quick links to the planning search pages of local planning authorities within my on-site service area. 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

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. 🙂

Do I need Planning Permission for a Conservatory?

Building a Conservatory Under Permitted Development Rights

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

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.
  • Under the Larger Home Extension PD rights, the conservatory can extend beyond the rear wall of the original detached dwelling by up to 8m, and up to 6m for a semi-detached dwelling.
  • 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.

Before you order your conservatory you need to be confident it does come under permitted development – Image: Everest

Have the properties Permitted Development Rights been Removed?

If you review the rules around permitted development you may feel pretty confident your rear extension 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.

Do I need Planning Permission for a Conservatory with a Tiled Roof?

It’s still possible to comply with PD rules and construct a conservatory with a tiled roof. You still need the structure to have a maximum height of 4m. Therefore if its a conversion from a conventional conservatory roof to a tiled roof the height needs to be monitored.

Also with conversions or retrofits, you need to be aware of weight. Under permitted development rules, extensions should use material similar in appearance to the host dwelling. However, the roof titles used on the roof of the main dwelling may be too heavy for a conservatory conversion. Many of the conversions are done with special low weight tiles. Therefore you need to find a title that is similar in appearance to that of the main dwelling. Again, as previously mentioned. Securing a Lawful Development Certificate for the works is not a bad idea to avoid future planning 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 the extensions 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).

Listed Building Conservatory
For a conservatory on a Listed Building, you need to demonstrate the structure would not have a detrimental effect on the historic character of the building – Image: Everest

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 where 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

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

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 (PD) you can construct extensions and outbuildings under certain criteria. With regards to the properties 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 when building under PD rights.

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 properties curtilage. 

Property Curtilage Size
A screenshot of the curtilage of my own property in 1925 – Image:

The properties Planning Unit vs its 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, 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 curtilage of the original dwelling. This was despite 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 curtilage of the original dwelling. It also shows the risks of proceeding with construction before the lawful status of 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 from the local planning authority could have been useful before proceeding with development.

Planning Help Establishing your Properties Curtilage

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 planning authority. We can also discuss the available evidence to reasonably conclude the size of the curtilage of your original dwelling. 🙂

Do I Need Planning Permission for a Dropped Kerb?

The Need for a Dropped Kerb

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

The likely reason you are investigating if you need planning permission for a dropped kerb is you wish to install a new highway access to your property. You may be interested in converting your front garden into a driveway. If a standard kerb is currently in place and you are driving over the existing foot pavement, your local authority could seek costs against you. The reason being the footpath may not have been designed to cope with the weight of a vehicle. Under the pavement, there is likely to be various services such as water, electricity and telecoms which could be damaged.

Is Your Property on a Classified or Trunk Road?

If the proposed access to your property is on either an A, B or C Classified road you will require full planning permission for the dropped kerb. To find out if the road is Classified it will require contacting the local Highways department. In some cases, they provide maps online of which roads are Classified and adopted. In other cases, a quick email or phone call will be needed.

Staffordshire County Council provides a Transport Map of their Classified Roads network.

How many Kerb Stones will need to be Dropped?

Generally, for a standard domestic driveway, five kerbstones will need to be replaced. However, the local planning authority will judge each case on its own merits and may require more or less.

What should be included with a Dropped Kerb Planning Application?

Each local planning department may have slightly different requirements such as including photos etc. However, generally, the same requirements apply which are as follows. A Location Plan of a scale typically 1:1250 with your site outlined in red and two named roads. Furthermore, a Block Plan of either 1:200 or 1:500, again with a red outline of your site. On the Block Plan, you want to include as much detail as possible about your dropped kerb proposals.  Show the height and width of any existing fences or walls, and further detail on any proposed fences or walls. Also, include details of any trees on or close to the site.

Dropped Kerb Sketch
A dropped kerb sketch example provided by Staffordshire County Council

If you are proposing to undertake engineering works such as excavations to your garden and retaining walls you will need to provide more information. Elevations showing the existing and proposed site should also be included with the planning application.

Refusal of Planning Permission for a Dropped Kerb

With regards to how far the dropped kerb needs to be from a road junction or traffic signals, each local authority has slightly different requirements. As an example for Staffordshire County Council Highway Department, they require 15m. Other potential reasons for refusal could include if there is a bus stop close to the proposed dropped kerb.

Furthermore, your application will also be refused if you are not able to provide sufficient space on your property for the vehicle. To avoid overhanging the highway or footpath ideally a parking space depth of 6m will be required, and an absolute minimum of 4.8m. The local authority is primarily concerned with Highway Safety when it comes to dropped kerbs and providing planning permission.

Do I also Need Permission from the Highway Authority?

Yes, this is where it gets confusing for some people. Whether you need planning permission or not for the dropped kerb, in all cases you will require permission from your local Highway Authority. Depending on who carries out the work, it will also require a Permit to Dig for temporary excavations. For instance, on a Classified road, Staffordshire County Council Highways department charges £340 for a permit. In some cases, local authorities do not allow outside contractors to undertake dropped kerb works.

Assistance with Planning Permission for a Dropped Kerb

If you believe you need to submit a planning application for a dropped kerb please get in touch and we can review your requirements. We can discuss the location of your proposed dropped kerb and any issues with highway safety etc. 🙂

Can you Convert a Front Garden to a Driveway?

Do you need Planning Permission to Convert a Front Garden to a Driveway?

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

“Can you Convert a Front Garden to a Driveway?”. The answer is paving your front garden may potentially be possible without the need for a planning application. However, there are a few conditions for this to be true. First, you need to check if your property still holds its permitted development rights, or if they were removed by a previous planning permission or Article 4 direction. Your choice of driveway raw materials will is a key determining factor if you require planning permission. Furthermore, if you own a Listed Building you may need to submit a planning application and Listed Building Consent if the works are deemed to be ‘significant’.

Impermeable Driveway Materials

Standard Tarmac Driveway
A standard Tarmac driveway is impermeable

If your property still holds its permitted development rights you can lay up to 5m2 of impermeable driveway materials, with no provision for the surface water to run off into a permeable area. If you lay more than 5m2 of impermeable driveway materials you will need to direct the surface water into a permeable area. Such an area would be the remaining section of the front garden. Impermeable driveway materials can include certain types of tarmac, concrete drives and pavers, made from either clay or concrete.

Clay Paver Driveway
For a clay paver driveway suitable mitigation is required for surface water

Now, you obviously don’t want to create a surface water flooding issue at the front of your property, and neither does your local authority. Therefore, how you deal with surface water runoff needs to be carefully considered. If you have removed most of your front garden a good way to deal with surface water is a sustainable drainage system, also know as SUDs. An example of this would be to dig out a section of the remaining front garden. Rainwater attenuation creates also known as storm creates are then placed into that hole. The rainwater attenuation creates are wrapped in a geotextile, and then the hole is backfilled with gravel and topped off with soil and grass. This solution acts as a buffer to capture significant amounts of surface water runoff which then slowly soaks into the ground.

If you wish to lay over 5m2 of an impermeable driveway material and you are not able to direct the surface water runoff into a permeable area you will be required to submit a planning application. Directing surface water runoff into sewerage drains is highly discouraged by local planning authorities.

Permeable Driveway Materials

Permeable Tarmac
Permeable Tarmac

The easiest way to avoid surface water issues and planning applications is to use permeable driveway materials. Now, the most obvious material to use is gravel, however, gravel on its own has various aesthetic and maintenance issues. Furthermore, with a gravel surface, you will require a bound hard surface of 2m up to the highway. The reason is loose gravel on the highway surface is a safety hazard. If you are going to use gravel you could consider plastic grid and mesh systems. Plastic grid systems make a gravel drive much easier to live with, I have personal experience of this.

Gravel Drive
I’ve used plastic grids for a gravel drive at my own home to provide a more practical surface to use and maintain.

If you are more interested in a completely bound surface material, there are options available that are still permeable. For instance, you can install permeable tarmac, also known as porous asphalt. There is also the option of a bound resin drive where gravel is mixed with a resin which sets hard. However, gaps between the gravel are maintained and water is able to pass through the bound resin gravel.

Do you require a Dropped Kerb for your Garden to Driveway Conversion?

Do I need planning permission for a dropped kerb?” If you require a kerb dropped as part of your front garden to drive conversion, you may need planning permission. A question to ask yourself, is your new front garden to driveway conversion off a classified or trunk road? If so you will be required to submit a planning application for a dropped kerb.

Planning Help with Garden to Driveway Conversions

If you need more assistance with if you can convert a front garden into a driveway please get in touch. We can discuss if you will need to submit a planning application for the required works. 🙂