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Once you have bought your home, you may be looking to redevelop it, or organise an extension you’ve always wanted. Or perhaps you were considering moving to a larger house as your family has grown, but have decided to extend your existing home, or convert your loft. It can however, become a frustrating and difficult process when you are trying to work out whether you need planning permission and if so what the process is and what your responsibilities are. Planning regulation can be quite complex, and getting the right answer is not always as easy as it seems.

For major structural changes or building something completely new, the likelihood is that you will need to request planning permission. If you do the work before securing planning permission you could be served with a notice requesting that you reverse any changes you have made, which can be very costly and upsetting. So, it is always worth checking everything first and being patient if seeking planning permission is necessary.

There are however, certain extensions or additions to your home that are classed as permitted developments and therefore it isn’t necessary to go through the process of planning permission. There are a few conditions to this including; your extension must be no more than half the land of the original house and the extension does not come forward of the house or higher than the highest part of the roof. If it is a single story extension it cannot be more than four metres high, and the materials must be similar to the existing structure of the house. Also, it cannot include a veranda or balcony. There are other things to consider however, particularly if your home is listed or in a conservation area, in which case you will need to seek advice and most probably planning permission.

Outbuildings such as sheds or greenhouses are also usually classed as permitted development as long as they are of reasonable size, which you can find out the exact sizes from your local council. If you are looking to pave over your front garden, you do not need permission as long as the material you use is porous, but will need planning permission if you use impermeable material which is more than five square metres.

You don’t usually need planning permission for replacing windows or doors unless the property is listed. If this is the case you will need to apply for listed building consent, as well as building control approval for any windows. For most homes that are not listed, you are able to convert your loft as well as have a skylight installed providing you are not in a conservation area and if you live in a flat you may need to contact your local planning department for advice.

And lastly, if you are looking to make eco-friendly changes to your home, different rules apply to different concepts. For example if you wish to install a wind turbine, you will need to apply for planning permission if it is fixed permanently, however you do not need planning permission for solar panels unless your property is listed. Generally speaking if your plans for redevelopment are larger than half of the original area of land, make significant changes to the appearance of your home or look out onto neighbouring properties then planning permission is usually sought, otherwise common sense prevails.

by Cormac Henderson

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