Planning Permission

Understanding Planning Permission and loft conversions

Most loft conversions do not require planning permission as the majority will fall under Permitted Development.   However, there are exceptions. Local authority planning permission may be required depending on the type of work undertaken and the type of property itself.

In October 2008, planning laws were relaxed and all houses have now got separate permitted development rights for the roof space. This new rule does not apply for flats, some new houses, properties within conservation areas and all listed buildings. Also some dwellings have specifically had their permitted development rights removed by the local authority, under an Article 4 direction.

If you are not sure whether your dwelling is affected by one of the above, give your local authority a call to check. It would also be prudent to check if any restrictive covenants apply to your house, these are restrictions placed upon your house by either the builders or local planning department when your house was first constructed. It may place obligations or restrictions upon yourselves, details can be found on the deeds or again by contacting your local authority.

Assuming your loft can be carried out under Permitted Development, the rules applying to the conversion can be briefly summarised as follows:

  1. No part of the dwelling house would, as a result of the works, exceed the height of the highest part of the existing roof.
  2. No part of the dwelling house would, as a result of the works, extend beyond the plane of any existing roof slope which forms the principal elevation of the dwelling house and fronts a highway.
  3. The cubic content of the resulting roof space would exceed the cubic content of the original roof space by more than:
    • 40 cubic metres in the case of a terrace house.
    • 50 cubic metres in any other case.
  4. The development would include the construction or provision of a veranda, balcony or raised platform.
  5. The dwelling house is in a conservation area.

There are some further conditions that apply to the above where development is permitted by Class B subject to the following:

  1. The materials used in any exterior work shall be of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the exterior of the existing dwelling house.
  2. Apart from the case of a hip-to-gable enlargement, the edge of dormers shall, so far as practicable, be not less than 20 centimetres from the eaves of the original roof.
  3. Any window inserted on a wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of the dwelling house shall be glazed in obscure-glazed, and be non-opening unless the parts of the window which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed.

Here at All Loft Conversions, we can make an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development which provides our clients further piece of mind and future assistance if they ever wish to sell their house at a later date, when such a document may be requested.

If you do need planning permission, your local authority may well have published guidelines as to what is, and what is not acceptable when considering a loft conversion. It would be in your best interest to discuss your proposal informally with your planning department so as not to waste time and money upon unrealistic proposals.   Don’t always assume just because a neighbour has had a loft conversion, you will be granted permission – every case is considered individually.