Planning Permission v Permitted Development

Sunday, 7th August 2016 | by: Peter Barry

Clients tend to ask us the question ‘Should I go through planning permission or should I go through permitted development?’ To answer the question it is important to really understand the difference between the two approaches, starting with an understanding of each.

What is Planning Permission?

Planning permission or planning consent is the permission granted by the Local Authority in the United Kingdom in order to be allowed to:

  • Build something new on land
  • Make a major change to your building e.g. building an extension
  • Change the use of your building

In short, if you are changing the external appearance of a residential property, it will need planning permission.

What is Permitted Development?

Permitted Development Rights act as a relaxed version of planning, and they are part of the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO) granted by Parliament, rather than the local authority. Their purpose is to allow homeowners to develop their properties quickly as long as the parameters of the rights are met without having to make an actual application.

Typical projects that may be done within Permitted Development rights are:

It is worth noting that the rights that apply to many common projects do not apply to flats, maisonettes or properties within ‘designated areas’ such as Conservation Areas etc.

Furthermore, as of 25th May 2019, the General Permitted Development Order has been extended so that the previously temporary Permitted Development Rights became permanent.

This measure means that homeowners can now build extensions without needing to notify their Local Planning Authority that the development has been completed.  The initial deadline of 30th May 2019 for these extensions to be built has now been made permanent.

An important caveat to this is that you must notify your local authority that you are exercising these rights.

What the updated Permitted Development Rights now cover

Certain homeowners now have the right to build larger single-storey rear extensions up to 6m (for attached houses) and up to 8m (for detached houses) – and they no longer need to notify their Local Planning Authority that the extension has been completed.

There are two important conditions attached to these Permitted Development Rights:

  • As part of the local authority’s obligatory Prior Approval process, if your extension is larger (3-6m for semis, 4-8m for detached houses), it will be subject to an official neighbour consultation.
  • The usual exceptions to development still apply (for example, an Article 4 direction prohibiting development, or in conservation areas).

Timescales and costs

As previously mentioned, works that require planning permission will require an application to be submitted, whereas those that fall within Permitted Development rights do not. However, we would always advise clients to apply for a Certificate of Lawful Development (COL) so that you have proof the development falls within these rights.

A planning application will take a maximum of 10 weeks to be decided, consisting of a a 2-week validation period and an 8-week decision period. Permitted Development Rights technically require no decision time but the application for a COL will also take 10 weeks. It is worth noting that works cannot be started unless Building Regulation approval has been obtained and any party wall issues resolved with both routes.

Planning fees will be incurred dependant on the type of proposed works – for a common single dwelling alteration/extension this will be around £200. Costs for Permitted Development depend on your local council, however a COL usually costs half the normal planning fee.

A planning application carries with it a decision period and this provides the local authority with the power to refuse permission for the proposed works. It can never be guaranteed that an application will be granted, however, working alongside local planning guidance and maintaining an open channel of contact with them can ensure that the application has the best chance of being granted.

As long as the proposed works comply with the parameters of the Permitted Development Rights it cannot be rejected and so works can proceed without further complications.


It is clear to see that there is a vast difference between the two routes of development, and we have increasingly become aware of clients looking to explore Permitted Development over a planning application. However, this is largely because the process seems quicker and cheaper.

Whilst this is true we always remind clients that they may be substantially more satisfied with their development if they proceed with a full planning application, as the parameters set with permitted development can be very limiting.

That is not to say that creative and practical developments cannot be achieved through Permitted Development. Before proceeding with further stages of works our advice would be: ‘let the design scheme dictate the most appropriate permission route, whilst being aware of local planning guidance’.

Post written with the assistance of Charlie Allwood MA MSc PhD of Urbanist Architecture.

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