Permitted Development Rights I: An overview

 

Not too long ago, the UK planning system was overloaded with minor applications for household extensions and other changes, causing a backlog of paperwork and considerable pressure on the limited resources of local planning authorities. The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order, most recently amended by the UK Government in 2016, includes a range of available ‘Permitted Development Rights’, which aim to reduce the number of minor applications by widening the definition of what can be built without requiring planning permission. In the first of a short series of posts explaining Permitted Development Rights in England, we look at the current legislation and give some examples of the types of projects that fall within Permitted Development Rights.

Permitted Development Rights I

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights are a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without making a planning application (Government Planning Practice Guidance). It is likely that your home will benefit from Permitted Development Rights, unless you live in a protected area (e.g. conservation area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Parks, etc.). In London, where homeowners can be hesitant to move, and more and more people are working from home, Permitted Development Rights have led to lots of self-build extensions popping up across the capital. A common example in Victorian and Edwardian properties is the L-shaped dormer, which does not require planning permission if designed within certain parameters.

Are there limits to what can be done using Permitted Development Rights?

In order to carry out work on your property under Permitted Development Rights, you must ensure that the work conforms to the current criteria, which are not always easy to decipher. The rules can be unclear, difficult to understand and open to interpretation. For example, the Permitted Development Rights that apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes and other dwellings. It is also worth bearing in mind that commercial properties have different rights to residential properties. Checking details with the planning department of your local authority before carrying out the works, or working with a qualified surveyor or architect can be a wise investment of time and money. They will be able to advise you of any reason why your proposed project may not be permitted, and if you need to apply for planning permission for all/part of the work. At times, the local authority may have removed one or more of your Permitted Development Rights (issuing an ‘Article 4′ direction), in which case you may need to submit a planning application for a project that, in other areas, may not require it. There may also be the need to carry out neighbour consultation, if you are in an area where this applies.

What sort of projects can I undertake using Permitted Development Rights?

There are a range of home improvements that you can make using Permitted Development Rights. More simple examples include: building a porch, carrying out internal alterations, installing micro-generation equipment such as solar panels, and installing satellite dishes. More complex projects include: converting the loft space, inserting rooflights or dormer extensions, installing new doors and/or windows on the rear elevation of your home, and extending the back of your home.

All of these projects would be subject to design rules and we will look at the rules surrounding Permitted Development Rights and home extensions in our next post.

What is retrofit?

 

The 2008 Climate Change Act committed the UK to reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% by 2050 (against the 1990 baseline). The buildings sector accounts for 37% of total UK GHG emissions and, of these emissions, 65% are from the residential sector. With this in mind, there has been growth in the residential retrofit industry, whereby buildings are adapted to become more sustainable and energy-efficient, while in the non-domestic market, retrofit can often be part of a larger refurbishment project. The majority of our existing residential and commercial stock requires some level of retrofit to enable the government’s ambitious emissions targets to be reached. In this post, we look at some of the methods available for retrofit and consider the role of architects in the retrofit of existing buildings.

retrofit living spaces

Making homes more energy-efficient

A study in conducted in 2014 estimated that 40 million houses in the EU would have to be retrofitted by 2020 if the reduction of emissions is to stay on track. In general, retrofitting involves the use of new technologies and materials within the home, to increase energy efficiency. A popular and simple example is improving insulation. A new heating system might also be installed, or double glazing might be fitted. There is also the option to carry out a Passivhaus retrofit. Although it is more difficult to reach the exact requirements of the Passivhaus standard in a retrofit project, the Passivhaus Institut has developed the EnerPHit standard for projects that use the Passivhaus method to reduce fuel bills and heating demand.

High performance buildings

Conserving energy is not the only reason to retrofit a building. Improving indoor environmental quality, reducing dampness and mould will all lead to increased health and productivity levels of the building’s users (read more on our blog about sustainable architecture principles that improve health). A retrofit project also presents the opportunity to reassess the accessibility, safety and security of a building.

The role of the architect

Retrofitting the home to increase energy efficiency can have significant architectural implications for the interior/exterior of houses. Modern architects are well-placed to add creativity and innovation into the drive to retrofit existing housing stock, particularly those that may prove very expensive to retrofit. For example, historic buildings such as Edwardian terraces are protected, and increasing energy efficiency can pose a real challenge. There are exciting options to retain the facade and rebuild the living spaces within the building. Because architects have an overview of the whole build process, they tend to be well-placed to act as a lead co-ordinator in retrofit projects. If you are keen to implement the Passivhaus method, you are likely to need planning permission as the work may require external insulation or changes to the roof, for example. Again, an architect can help with this.