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Do You Need Planning Permission For a Loft Conversion?

Loft conversions are becoming even more popular among modern houses, and the trend continues to grow. Due to this, you might want to add one to your property yourself. However, there is sometimes some red tape you must pass before considering getting one.

Posted on

October 17, 2023

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Loft conversion planning permission: Do you need it?

If you’re considering adding a loft conversion to your property, you might wonder if you need planning permission first. Well, there isn’t a straight answer to this. There are various factors to consider when deciding whether you need planning permission or what your property’s development rights are.

It’s best to find out beforehand whether you need planning permission for your loft conversion, as non-adherence has potential legal repercussions. Below, you can find out whether your property needs planning permission or if it meets the permitted development rights.

When do you need planning permission for a loft conversion?

While most of the time, you won’t need planning permission for a loft conversion, there are situations where you will need it. This includes the following:

Extension beyond specified limits

You will need planning permission if the additional volume of your conversion exceeds 40 cubic metres if your house is terraced or 50 cubic metres if you want to add to your detached or semi-detached house. The same applies if the loft conversions extend beyond the roof plane facing the road, have windows that aren’t obscure-glazed or are less than 1.7 metres above the floor, or you want the extension to be taller than the tallest part of the existing roof.

Design and aesthetic alterations

Since a loft conversion could significantly change how your property looks on the outside, there are design and aesthetic alterations to consider. If you plan on using materials that do not match the rest of your property, you will need planning permission.

Conservation areas or listed buildings

If your property is on a normal street in the UK, you most likely don’t need planning permission. However, if you have a property located within a conservation area or a listed building, there are more restrictions on the changes you can make. You should then request planning permission if you want a loft conversion.

Common permitted development rights for loft conversions

So, you now know what might require you to need loft conversion planning permission, but what could make you eligible for development rights? Here are some common examples:

Roof extensions and alterations

As mentioned above, if the additional volume of your property is under 40 or 50 cubic metres, depending on the type of house, you won’t need planning permission. Your property will also have permitted development rights if the extension isn’t higher than the highest part of the existing roof and doesn’t extend beyond the roof plane facing the road.

Window installations

Permitted development rights for window installations for loft conversions include any side-facing windows that are obscure-glazed and non-opening. They should also be at least 1.7 metres above the floor. You should also be allowed to have rear-facing windows that don’t come with any specific restrictions as long as they consider your neighbour’s privacy.

Material choices

The materials you choose to use for your loft conversion are usually open to you and your preferences. However, there is a general rule that they must stay in coherence with the appearance of the rest of your property. For example, if your whole property is built with red brick, you’ll have no issues if you build your loft conversion with red brick.

Navigating the application process

If you need to apply for planning permission for your loft conversion, there is an application process to go through. It may appear a bit daunting but don’t worry, as you just need to follow the stages below:

Pre-application advice

You first want to contact your local planning authority (LPA) and discuss your loft conversion with them. You can most likely set up a meeting with your LPA to receive some advice about your application and find out whether your plans will likely be approved. You can usually find your LPA’s contact information on their website.

Submitting the application

Once you’ve spoken to your LPA and they have suggested you send an application, you should complete all the necessary application forms, including site plans, architectural drawings, and the planning form. If you need to provide any additional documents, include them too. You may choose to submit your application online or mail a paper copy, but you’ll have to pay an application fee for both.

After submission: What to expect

After submitting your application, you will receive a notification from your LPA and a reference number to help you track the process. Depending on your case, a public consultation with neighbours about your conversion may be conducted. Still, you will also have a planning officer assigned to come and check out your application. Not long after that, the LPA will decide and notify you of the outcome of your application.

Tips for a smooth planning permission process

If you wish your planning permission process to go as smoothly as possible, you might want to follow some of these tips:

  • Contact your LPA and ask for some pre-application advice before you start the process

  • Talk to someone who has gone through the process before, or hire a professional to help

  • Go through the policies of your local area regarding loft conversions

  • Be nice to your neighbours in case your application includes a public consultation

  • Include all necessary paperwork and stick to your deadlines

  • Keep records of all your communications with your LPA or anyone associated with the project

  • Prepare to make adjustments in case the LPA or your neighbours request them

Conclusion

A loft conversion can be great for your house, but it’s incredibly important to do your due diligence with planning permissions before you can start. Once you go through this process and you need some assistance getting the project done, BGR Designs can help. We are experts in loft conversions and ready to help make your vision a reality.