What is Permitted Development and What is Covered Under PDR? 
Researching and applying for planning permission used to be an unwelcome but necessary part of planning a home renovation. Fortunately, however, these days a lot of work can be done under permitted development. Here, we walk you through what it means and what you can do.
What is Permitted Development?
Permitted Development is an automatic grant of planning permission from the UK Government to do certain types of home renovations and construction work. These Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) are great news for homeowners as, if your project qualifies, you can skip the hassle, paperwork and fees involved in applying to your local planning authority beforehand.
As with anything planning related, however, there’s still plenty of jargon, rules and regulations to get your head around and several exceptions. For example, if you live in a listed building, Conservation Area, National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Site or the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads, you’ll still need to apply for planning permission for home renovations that can be done under PDRs elsewhere. This is due to stricter controls to preserve historical value, aesthetics and “the character of an area of acknowledged importance.”
If you live in any of these, you probably already know what directives apply but it’s always worth checking with your local planning authority first.
Also, note that standard PRDs don’t apply to flats, maisonettes, commercial properties or certain types of non-residential building and, in any case, are not infinite. So you may need planning permission if you’ve already done a lot of work on your home under PDRs.
Permitted Development vs Planning Permission
As long as you use materials compatible with the original house and don’t live in a restricted area or building, you can do a lot under permitted development. As a rule, anything internal or at the back of the property should be covered. This includes renovating individual rooms, knocking down internal walls and completely redesigning the floorplan.
You can also build certain rear or side extensions as long as they don’t face the road. Two storey rear extensions must not extend over 3 m from the rear wall, come to within 7 m of the rear boundary or be higher than the original roof. Subject to prior approval, single storeys can go further: up to 8 m from a detached house and 6 m for other types of home, but they must be under 4 m high. Extensions on the side of the house (known as a side return) can’t be wider than half the original house or over 4 m high.
You can also build certain types of outbuildings under PDRs but neither they nor any extension can occupy more than 50% of the land around your house or feature balconies, verandas or raised platforms.
Other things covered under PDRs include replacing your roof and doing simple loft and garage conversions, as long as you don’t extend the space or significantly alter the roof shape. With certain limitations, you can also install double glazing or insulation, replace back windows and doors, add solar panels and clad the façade.
As a rule, you’ll need planning permission for most other home renovations, including any changes to the front of the property or to build something new, especially if these could affect your neighbours or the environment. Planning permission is also required to split a house into flats.
Changes to Permitted Development in 2021
Permitted Development Rights have been expanded and modified since they were first introduced in 2015. Under the most recent changes in August 2020, it’s now possible to demolish and rebuild vacant and redundant office and light industrial buildings to create housing. Certain post-war homes can also be extended vertically by up to two storeys, and dwellings can be created above terraces, offices and shops. All subject to certain restrictions and prior approval from the local authority, of course. Minimum space standards have also been updated to avoid unscrupulous developers creating homes that are too small or lack sufficient light, although it’s not clear when or how all these changes will be introduced.
Talk to your architect or home improvement company to find out whether your home renovation project can be done under permitted development.