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Key points

Normally planning permission is needed if you carry out external works to a property. In certain circumstances, for more minor developments, a general planning permission is granted through permitted development rights, so it is not necessary to apply for planning permission individually. This note explains how and when permitted development rights operate. Normally permitted development rights only apply to houses; not flats. They should also usually apply to a small house in multiple occupation (HMO) within Class C4 and may apply to larger HMOs. Permitted Development Rights apply to both the carrying out of certain works to dwelling houses and allow certain changes of use for other uses to dwelling houses, subject to prior approval.

The need for planning permission

Planning permission is needed for building works and material changes of use. Where building works are involved there is an exemption where the works are purely internal so that there is no material impact on the exterior of the building. Normally an application would need to be made to the planning authority for planning permission. However, in order to avoid the need for an application to be submitted in the case of certain minor works/changes of use blanket planning permission is automatically given in certain cases through the Permitted Development Order. This confers "permitted development rights" which means that an individual application for planning permission is not needed. It is important to note, however, that if you rely on permitted development rights you must stick strictly within the limits for the permitted development rights. If it goes beyond this then express planning permission is required and if you fail to obtain this enforcement action can be taken against you, in the same way as happens if you carry out works which needs express planning permission but you do not obtain it. Even where permitted development rights exist in certain cases there is a system of prior application to local planning authorities to ask for prior approval to the change of use.

What are permitted development rights?

Quite extensive rights have existed for some time.

Significant new permitted development rights came into force on 30th May 2013 relating to residential properties which widen the scope of permitted development rights. These additional rights only apply in England; not Wales.

To what residential properties do permitted development rights apply?

Many permitted development rights do not apply to flats, maisonettes or mixed use properties. They only apply to houses, i.e. detached, semi detached or terraced houses or bungalows.

Additionally, there are particular rules which apply in conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, national parks or sites of special scientific interest, the Broads and World Heritage Sites which restrict or take away permitted development rights altogether.

The rest of this guide to Permitted Development Rights contains a wide range of information on HMOs, carrying out work, planning beforehand, starting the work and carrying out the work. Please sign in to access the whole guide. Alternatively if you're not already a guest member, you can join today for free!

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