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Do you need planning permission for a house extension? A guide for UK homeowners

If you’re considering expanding your living space with a house extension in the UK, one of the critical factors you need to consider is whether you require planning permission. Planning permission is the legal approval from your local council that allows you to carry out specific building works. While some house extensions fall under permitted development rights and do not require planning permission, others may need prior approval. In this guide, we’ll explore the factors that determine whether you need planning permission for a house extension in the UK.

Permitted Development Rights

Permitted development rights are specific allowances that allow homeowners to make certain alterations and extensions to their properties without the need for formal planning permission. These rights are subject to specific conditions and limitations, including:

a. Size Limits: The size of the extension must adhere to the permitted development size limits, which vary depending on the type of extension and the location of your property.

b. Height Restrictions: The extension must not exceed a certain height, especially in relation to the original height of the property.

c. Location: The extension must be situated at the rear or side of the property, and it should not extend to the front.

d. Materials: The materials used for the extension should be similar in appearance to the existing property.

e. Boundary Limits: The extension should not encroach beyond specific boundary limits.

Single-Storey Extensions

Single-storey rear extensions in the UK are often covered under permitted development rights. For terraced and semi-detached houses, the extension must not extend more than three meters from the rear wall of the original house. In the case of detached houses, the limit is extended to four meters. However, in some designated areas like conservation areas or national parks, permitted development rights may be restricted or removed.

Two-Storey Extensions

Two-storey extensions are generally subject to stricter regulations. Planning permission is often required for two-storey extensions, as they can significantly impact the appearance of neighbouring properties and may affect privacy and sunlight. In such cases, you will need to submit a planning application to your local council for approval.

Side Extensions

Side extensions are often treated similarly to rear extensions when it comes to permitted development rights. However, if the side extension is more than one story, it will likely require planning permission.

Loft Conversions

In some cases, loft conversions are considered permitted development and do not require planning permission. However, there are specific criteria that must be met, such as the additional roof space not exceeding a certain volume or extending beyond the plane of the existing roof slope.

Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings

If your property is located in a conservation area or is a listed building, permitted development rights may not apply, or they may be significantly restricted. In such cases, you will almost certainly need planning permission for any house extension.

Applying for Planning Permission

If your proposed house extension does not fall under permitted development rights, you will need to apply for planning permission from your local council. The planning application process involves submitting detailed plans and documents outlining the proposed extension’s design, size, materials, and impact on the surrounding area. The council will review the application and consider factors such as the visual impact, impact on neighbouring properties, and compliance with local planning policies.


Before embarking on a house extension project in the UK, it is essential to determine whether you need planning permission. Familiarise yourself with permitted development rights and their limitations, and consider the specific conditions that may apply to your property, such as conservation area or listed building restrictions. If your extension falls outside permitted development rights, it’s crucial to submit a planning application and obtain the necessary approval before proceeding with your project. Seeking professional advice from a qualified architect or planning consultant can also help navigate the planning process and ensure that your house extension complies with all relevant regulations.

Are you planning a new building project? Still looking for reliable builders in Manchester? Get in touch today with us and we’ll discuss how we can bring your next project to life.

John Doe

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