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Permitted Development: Do I Need Planning Permission for Loft Conversion?

Permitted Development: Do I Need Planning Permission for Loft Conversion?

BeforeBricks Marketing Team
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October 9, 2021

Does your loft conversion project need planning permission?

The short answer is: typically not.

In many instances, loft conversions do not require planning permission.

It is common for loft conversion projects to fall under a process called permitted development.

Whether you’re considering adding a loft conversion to your home to add value or simply to just create more living space without the added stress of moving, it is important to know if you will need planning permission for your loft conversion.

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If you are carrying out a loft conversion in England it does not always require planning permission. However, this depends on a number of factors such as:

1. The type of building you are adding a loft conversion to, i.e. (housing, flat, maisonette)

2. The measurements of the converted loft space

3. The type of area you live in within the UK

4. The materials being used

Loft Conersion with Gable ends
Pitched roof dormer loft conversion with gable-end windows

Loft conversion under permitted development rights

If you are a homeowner generally you will not need planning permission when adding a loft conversion, instead permitted development covers this.

This is a government scheme which allows homeowners to expand their properties without the need for planning permission. Permitted development does not apply to people who are wanting to add a loft conversion to a flat or maisonette. Whether or not you need to go through the planning or permitted development process, you'll still be required to submit a site or block plan to the council.

To qualify for permitted development there are a number of requirements that your loft conversion must comply with. For instance:

1. Materials used for the loft conversion must be similar to the existing house

2. The volume of enlargement should not exceed the original roof space by 40 cubic metres for terraced houses or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses

3. The plan for the extension does not include balconies, veranders or anything similar

4. Any side facing windows must be frosted or obscured and an opening that is 1.7 metres above the floor

5. No extension is higher than the highest point of the existing roof

6. Any extensions must not overhang the outer face of the original wall of the house

7. Dormers or any other extensions (excluding hip-to-gables) should be set back at least 20cm from the original wall face

8. The house cannot already have additional storeys added to it under permitted development rights

If you want to be certain that your loft extension comes under permitted development and that your proposal does not require planning permission, you can apply for a Lawful Development certificate.

Loft Conersion
Velux rooflight internal loft conversion: Planning permssion usually not needed

Loft conversion in conservation area

In the United Kingdom a conservation area generally applies to an area that has special architectural or historical value and is to remain protected.

Having a property in a conservation area can also include owning a listed building.

It is possible to have a loft conversion however if you are living in a conservation area planning permission and regulations will still apply as this does not come under the permitted development.

This is so the general character and style of the surrounding environment is maintained.

If your loft conversion meets the requirements of the planning permission, then this could be accepted.

Any requirements made by planners must be followed as without having prior permission this could be a criminal offence, which could potentially lead to fines and prosecution.

Here are some aspects the council planning department will take into consideration:

1. The impact on the area including noise level, parking and roofline

2. Nature conservation

3. Loss of light or shadowing

To increase your chances of success of receiving planning permission it could be best to hire a specialist design team who have the experience to know what works and what is likely to fail.

Loft conversion in conservation area
L-shaped dormer loft conversion

Loft conversion in AONB

An area of outstanding natural beauty is an area of landscape in England, Wales or Northern Island which has been designated for conservation due to its important landscape value.

This gives these certain areas a level of protection from development.

Some permitted development rights exist still in these AONB areas, however generally if you are looking to add any type of development to your home you will have to send off a planning application to

the AONB board. This may apply whether you are planning to extend your kitchen or convert your loft or garage. To find out if you are living in an AONB area it is wise to contact your local authority.

Loft conversion in AONB
Hip to gable loft conversion

Converting loft of a flat or maisonette

Every single loft conversion to a flat or maisonette property our team has looked at required permission from the local planning department. You may also need permission from the freeholder if you only own the leasehold on your flat or maisonette. However, if you own a share of the freehold you may be able to skip this step.

The cost of planning permission for a loft conversion

If you are living in an area which you cannot get permitted development for, and you therefore need planning permission it is important to know the potential cost for a loft conversion.

A standard charge to submit a planning application can be around £200. Hiring a professional to visit your home such as an architectural technician is a better way to increase your chances of being accepted for planning permission as they will be able to produce scaled plans that are suitable for a council to consider. The expected cost for the design and planning drawings can be from £1,000 to £2,500.

Rear dormer loft conversion
Rear dormer loft conversion: a popular type for houses

Loft conversion costs can vary anywhere from around £18,000 to as high as £65,000. However, this is dependent on the type of loft conversion you are having, if you have a suitably spacious loft to start with this will make the building process easier meaning the cost may be lower. Generally, the taller the building the greater the cost due to the additional lifts of scaffolding and fire safety work.

Some roof types will require extra structural work, here are 4 factors to consider your homes suitability for a loft conversion:

1. Roof pitch

2. Roof structure

3. Available head height

4. Obstacles such as water tanks or chimney tanks

The most suitable type of roof structure for loft conversions are normally traditional frame type structures this allows the space to be opened up more easily making the process less expensive.

Mansard roof loft conversion
Mansard roof loft conversion: a popular type for converting attic space of flats & maisonettes in London

How long does a planning application take for a loft conversion?

If you require planning permission for a loft extension, most planning applications are decided within the timeframe of 8 weeks. Factors such as complex or large development and applications can extend this time which then could potentially be extended to 13 weeks, although once you have submitted your application your authorities should be able to tell you the amount of time it should take.

Unfortunately, this 8-to-13-week window can be the minimum amount of time as some applications can drag on for longer and sometimes even months.

If the authorities have still not decided on your application within this timeframe it is possible to appeal to the Secretary of State. If somehow your application is turned down or is allowed however it is only subject to certain conditions that you do not agree with, you can make an appeal which can be resolved by a planning inspector.

Finally, it is also worth have conversations and getting advice from either neighbours or friends who have also had loft conversions. It is always good to hear first-hand about other people’s experiences and to also see what types of design have already been given permission in your area.

Sharing this information with your loft conversion specialist or architectural technician you can save a large amount of time with the design and planning stages.

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