House of Commons Library

Permitted Development Rights

Published Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Permitted development rights allow changes to be made to buildings and use of land without needing planning permission. This briefing papers sets out recent permitted development rights that were introduced by the previous Conservative and Coalition Governments, as well as proposals for new permitted development rights in rural areas.

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This briefing paper applies to England only. For information about permitted development in the other UK countries see section 8 of the joint Library briefing paper Comparison of the planning systems in the four UK countries: 2016 update.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are rights to make certain changes to a building without the need to apply for planning permission. These derive from a general planning permission granted by Parliament, rather than from permission granted by the local planning authority. Before some permitted development rights can be used, the developer must first obtain “prior approval” in relation to specified aspects of the development from the local planning authority.

Some permitted development rights cover building operations, such as home extensions, whereas others cover change of use of buildings. Change of use permitted development rights, such as office to residential conversion, are covered in another Library briefing paper, Planning: change of use.

Removing permitted development rights

In some circumstances local planning authorities can suspend permitted development rights in their area, under Article 4 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.

Recent changes

From 15 April 2015 the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 consolidated and revoked the previous 1995 legislation relating to permitted development in England. It also introduced a number of new permitted development rights, including the provision of click-and-collect services by shops and to enable greater use of non-domestic properties to provide renewable energy.

In May 2013 changes came into force to allow permitted development for home extensions; to increase the size limits for the depth of single-storey domestic extensions from 4m to 8m (for detached houses) and from 3m to 6m (for all other houses), in non-protected areas, for a period of three years. A neighbour consultation scheme on new extensions was introduced by the then Government in response to concerns about the original proposals. This temporary permitted development has now been extended until May 2019.

Changes were also made in November 2016 to allow for taller mobile masts in a bid to boost mobile connectivity.

Future proposals

In February 2017 the previous Government began a consultation on extending the existing thresholds for permitted development rights for agricultural development on agricultural units of 5 hectares or more. It also proposed a new agricultural to residential use permitted development right which would allow conversion of up to 750sqm, for a maximum of 5 new dwellings, each with a floor space of no more than 150sqm.

The Conservative Party manifesto for the 2017 general election indicated that non-fracking drilling would be made permitted development. The new Government has not yet confirmed this position since the election and the appointment of a new Housing and Planning Minister.

Commons Briefing papers SN00485

Author: Louise Smith

Topic: Planning

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