Do I need planning permission for a loft conversion?

Loft conversions are usually covered under what’s called Permitted Development. Local authorities grant planning permission in advance on certain building works like loft conversions, rear extensions and conservatories in most areas. Permitted Development gives you free reign to develop your home without much interference from regulations and the council but there are certain criteria that must be met for Permitted Development to apply. If your planned loft conversion does not meet the below criteria then you will need to complete a planning application.

1. Permitted Development criteria

2. What properties are exempt from Permitted Development?

3. How do you increase your chances of getting planning permission?

Permitted Development covers your loft conversion work if:

  • The converted loft space doesn’t exceed 40 cubic meters in a terraced house
  • The converted loft space doesn’t exceed 50 cubic meters in a detached or semi-detached house
  • The extension does not reach beyond the existing roof slope at the front of the house
  • The extension does not increase the roof height
  • The extension plan does not include verandas, balconies or anything of this nature
  • Side-facing window openings must be at least 1.7m above the floor, and these windows must be obscured too
  • The roof extension is set back as far as practical, which is at least 20cm from the existing eaves
  • The roof extension cannot overhang the roof or the wall of the house
  • Any materials used are the same or similar to what’s already used on the outside of the house

What properties are exempt from Permitted Development?

You must bare in mind that no Permitted Development rights exist if your home is on land that has been designated. Examples of this include conservation areas, World Heritage sites, and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Permitted Development rights also don’t extend to listed buildings.

Be aware of Article 4

Local councils also reserve the right to revoke some permissions using what’s called ‘Article 4’. They can withdraw the rights of all homeowners on a certain street for example to make any changes to the front of their homes, including loft conversions and re-rendering. This is usually only issued if the area is of importance or the change of one home would affect the aesthetic of a prominent street. It’s worth checking if an Article 4 has been issued before you moved in, although you should be aware of this already.

How do you increase your chances of getting planning permission?

You can increase your chances of securing planning permission for your loft conversion with a couple of easy tweaks. You’ll need to submit and have a planning application approved before any work is commenced on the build. During the build the conditions outlined and the information you provided in the application must be adhered to. The council can ask you to remove any render for example and replace it with what you told them you would use, or they can ask you to revert the structure entirely if you don’t comply. Worth getting everything right! To increase your chances of planning permission, try the following:

  • Gather information on other loft conversions in the area and follow their direction (chances are they had the plans for that approved!)
  • Just highlighting other similar conversions in the area shows the LPA (Local Planning Authority) that there’s a precedent for your works
  • If you can, add any extensions like a dormer or hip-to-gable on the rear of the property so it doesn’t alter the street
  • Make sure the finish is in-keeping with not just the rest of the house but the area too (a modern, glass loft conversion won’t look right in a traditional Victorian street)


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