About planning permission

Explaining when you might need planning permission and what 'permitted developments' are.

What is planning permission?

Most new buildings, major changes to existing buildings or changes of use need consent - known as planning permission. Without a planning system everyone could construct buildings or use land in any way they wanted, no matter what effect this would have on the environment and on other people who live and work in their area.

Your local planning authority is responsible for deciding whether a development - anything from an extension on a house to a new shopping centre - should go ahead.

What kind of alterations might need permission?


If you're carrying out maintenance, improvements or other alterations inside your house (e.g. new kitchen, bathroom) which don't affect the way the outside of the building looks, you won't need planning permission. 

However, more complex internal changes, such as walls being knocked down, may require building regulation approvals to ensure all work is carried out safely.

Please note: If you live in a listed building then additional rules apply and you may need to apply for Listed Building Consent for internal alterations if they affect the character of the listed building. 

Find out if your plans will need planning permission


If you're carrying out any building works (e.g. extension, conversion) to the outside of your house then you may need permission. However, some extensions are classed as ' permitted development' and don't require permission.

Everybody's plans are different, so it's best to check if you need permission. If you do any work to your home, it is always of benefit to obtain a written response from the council in order to prevent complications in the event of a house sale.

Please note: If you live in a flat, live in a listed building or a live in a conservation area then different/additional rules apply. 

Find out if your plans will need planning permission

I've heard of 'permitted developments'. What are they?

Small scale extensions and alterations may not require an application for planning permission, and are classed as 'permitted developments'.

This is because the effect of such developments on neighbours or the surrounding environment is likely to be small – e.g. building a boundary wall below a certain height.

We have compiled some information for home owners to help you decide if your plans are classed as permitted developments or will require planning permission.

Find out if your plans will need planning permission

Please note: In a small number of cases the original planning permission which allowed your home to be built might not allow further alterations. Read more about these 'planning restrictions' in the question below.

Could my home have planning restrictions attached to it?

Yes. Your home/housing estate may only have received planning permission to be built as long as certain conditions were met. One such condition may have stated that no extensions could be added without further planning permission.

This may be because the garden is restricted in size and the relationship to neighbours needs to be protected, or the open plan style of the estate was seen as an important factor in agreeing the details of the estate at the outset.

You should have been made aware of this when you bought the property via the solicitor’s land searches.

Still not sure?  We can check if you need planning permission and if any restrictions apply.

What else do I need to consider when making changes to my home?

Despite your work being granted planning permission (or being covered by  permitted development rights), you may still require additional permissions before you begin building:

Building Regulations

Building Regulations are designed to ensure new buildings meet health, safety, welfare, convenience and sustainability standards. They relate to the specifics of how a building should be constructed, unlike planning permission which determines whether a development should go ahead or not.

Read more about building regulations and how they may relate to your project.

Listed buildings

You will require listed building consent if you want to alter or extend a listed building in a manner which would affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest.

Read more about listed buildings

Find out if your building is listed - The National Heritage List for England (external website)

Consulting your neighbours

It is advisable to consult any neighbours who might be affected by your proposal. Not only is it common courtesy to do so, but not doing so could lead to conflict and potential delays.

There are also additional requirements under the Party Wall Act if you are building on a boundary.

What happens if I build without permission?

If you build without having received the correct planning permission, you could be served an 'enforcement notice' which could order you to undo all the changes you have made.

Read more about 'unauthorised developments'.