When You Need Planning Permission – UK

Planning Permission

If you are planning on making home improvements in the near future, you’ll be aware that sometimes you may require planning permission from the council. Generally your home improvement will fall under the umbrella of a permitted development, but for those larger or more substantial changes you’ll need to fill out a planning permission application, either online or in person at your local planning authority.

Type Of Property

If your property is a listed building, or situated in a conservation area, national park or area of outstanding natural beauty, you’ll normally be required to gain planning permission. In fact, it’s considered a criminal offence to alter a listed building without seeking prior permission, even if you were unaware of the building’s status. However, for changes to regular housing here in the United Kingdom, you’ll only need to apply if your planned home improvements meet certain criteria.


While it is always best to consult your local planning authorities, there are certain restrictions and conditions for popular home improvements, which we’ll now give an overview of. Perhaps the most common home improvement which can sometimes require planning permission is the building of an extension. For smaller projects like the simple extension of a room, no planning permission will be required. However, if your proposed changes will cover over half of the area of land surrounding the house in its original state, an application will need to be made. Similarly, if your proposed extension will be higher than the current roof, or higher than four metres for a first story rear extension, then you must consult local planning authorities.

Fences and Gates

Another common home improvement, which can sometimes require planning permission, is the installation or modification of fences and gates. For regular garden walls or fences no application is needed, but if you are planning to erect a wall or fence over two metres in height, then planning permission is required. However, if your wall or fence will border a public highway or footpath, then this height is lowered to one metre. On top of this, if your house neighbours a listed building and your wall or fence will form a boundary with the listed building, the by law you are required to seek planning permission.fencepanel

You don’t need to worry if you’re removing or modifying an existing fence or wall, or similarly for placing or removing hedges. However, you should be wary of causing a nuisance to neighbours with excessive hedges, as complaints can be made through legislation issued in the Anti-social Behaviour Act of 2003. On top of this, if your project requires the felling of trees, you’ll need to consider the possibility of a Tree Preservation Order, issued by the council and preventing the removal of a tree if it would be considered in any way detrimental to the landscape.

So for most regular home improvements you won’t be required to gain planning permission. However, if your changes will be significant in size or stature, then you may be required to make an application. For further guidance or to raise any queries, why not contact your local planning authority?

For more advice on the materials you may need for your project, or if you need advice from your local timber and building supplier, feel free to contact us.





Timber and Building Merchants

George Hill is a leading independent timber merchant and building supplies provider in the North West, with branches in Oldham, Manchester, Bolton and Nelson. Founded in 1919 we’re family run, and have been for 99 years.

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