Some types of building work don’t require you to apply for full planning permission from the council. Depending on their scale and nature, they may be considered a ‘permitted development’ and automatically be granted permission to continue without the need for an application process.

However, there are some conditions, limitations and exceptions that need to be understood in order to know whether your project qualifies.

What are permitted development rights?

Permitted development rights are a type of general planning permission granted by parliament rather than a local authority. They apply to certain types of building work deemed unlikely to have an unacceptable impact on the property or area.

Examples of the types of work that may be considered a permitted development include:

Restrictions that may apply

Permitted development rights which apply to most common house projects will be different for flats, maisonettes, industrial building and warehouses, agricultural buildings, and other commercial properties.

They may also be more restricted—or have different requirements—if you live in a listed building or in a ‘designated area’ of the UK such as:

  • a Conservation Area
  • a National Park
  • an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • a World Heritage Site
  • the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads

Most importantly, it should be noted that as well as presenting restrictions, local planning authorities can also withdraw rights associated with permitted developments through an Article 4 Direction.

Article 4 Directions and their impact on developments

The use of an Article 4 Direction to withdraw permitted development rights is often the case when the importance of an area’s character has been identified as needing protecting (for example, in conservation areas). By introducing an Article 4 Direction, it means that planning permission is no longer granted automatically and you will need to submit a planning application for part or all of your building works.

This might seem frustrating to developers whose projects would otherwise qualify as being a permitted development. However, while seeming to present an obstacle that may not have been accounted for, it needs to be understood that Article 4 Directions are not designed to prevent work, but rather to guide it as appropriately as possible.

By introducing an Article 4 Direction—and the need for a planning application where it might not otherwise be needed—it gives the local authority the chance to study the proposal in more detail. This not only prevents any unsympathetic works from damaging the character of an area of importance but will also help ensure the best possible outcome for the development within its immediate context.

What does it mean for you?

Developers will often know if their project is subject to an Article 4 Direction. However, if unsure, it’s always worth checking with your local planning authority.

In fact, given the varying nature of permitted development rights and restrictions between authorities, and between types of property and proposed works, we highly recommend that you speak to your local authority for pre-application advice before getting started. It could save you a lot of time and money in the long run.