A Base Rate Cut Ignored by the Banks
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There are a surprisingly large number of alterations and extensions that you can carry out without planning permission. Such projects are known as “Permitted Development and can be carried out with only building regulations consent. Note that many of these projects will not apply for listed buildings and conservation areas.
No permission is required to create new windows and doors in a house. This gives great scope for adding new views, creating a brighter home and completely changing the internal layout of a house. Neighbours may well object to being overlooked but the fact remains that there is very little that they can do about it!
Existing, non-habitable buildings that are attached to your property require no planning permission to be converted. This would be of particular interest to those who live in 1960s houses with integral garages and also to those who live in Victorian houses; an era when properties often came with outbuildings to the rear.
Making internal changes to utilize an existing roof space to create extra rooms can be done without consulting the planners. This could be a very cost effective way of adding square footage, and therefore value, to an existing property. Estate agent figures suggest that adding a loft conversion costs one third of what it would cost to move to a house with an extra room.
This is where the rules get a little more complicated but the general rule of thumb is that a house can be extended by 15% of its volume or 70 cubic metres without planning permission. For very large houses this can go up to a maximum of 115 cubic metres. For a single story extension there are restrictions on the height of the roof; a pitched roof should not be higher than four metres and a flat roof three. The extension is also not allowed to bring the property any nearer to the boundary (unless it is more than 20 metres away) and for a conservatory, it is not permitted to be within two metres of a public highway or footpath. As long as the property boundary is not too close, with a little imagination, the permitted 15% will allow you some major home improvements without planning permission. For example, you could build on top of an existing garage (as long as the roof is not higher than the existing one) and create a new annexe for extra bedrooms or a bathroom. See the government planning portal for full details of what requires permission at planningportal.gov.uk.
It is possible to build dormer windows and to extend the size of the roof without permission. The size of such extensions is 40 cubic metres for terraced houses and 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses. You could take advantage of this to create more light or useable space in your home.
There is no limit to the floor-space you can create with outbuildings, as long as they are more than five metres away from the house, are not situated between the house and any road and do not take up more than 50% of the garden. There are the same restrictions on height as for a single story extension of four metres for a pitched roof and three for a flat one. Providing the house and outbuildings are occupied as one residence, the fact that outbuildings are built to residential standards with the likes of cavity wall insulation, does not affect the need for planning permission. Possible uses could be a games room, a home office, a workshop, an additional lounge or a guest bedroom.
A covered swimming pool comes under the same restrictions as for outbuildings, but an open swimming pool can be as big as you like as long as it doesn’t take up more than 50% of the garden. The same rule applies for a garden pond.
A house with its own independent access is more attractive than one which shares its access with others. As long as you are accessing the property from an unclassified road, no planning permission is required to create a new vehicular access to a residential property. You can check the status of a road with the local authority. Most minor village roads and cul-de-sacs are not classified but if the road is classified you will need planning permission and an arrangement with the Highways Agency to drop the kerb.
Although there are grey areas on this one, it is technically possible to house an elderly relative in a detached annex in the grounds of your property with their own kitchen and bathroom, without planning permission, as long as you can prove that the occupant is dependent on the occupants of the main house. It is not possible however to use outbuildings to create independent dwellings as this would need planning permission to separate the land into separate building plots.
No planning permission is required to convert, for example, adjacent semi-detached dwellings into one detached house. This could be particularly useful in urban areas where large properties are in short supply. Be aware though, if you want to go back to separate dwellings, or convert into flats, you will need planning permission.