Getting under the skin of Permitted Development Rights
Major changes to planning laws in the mid 'noughties and the widening of Permitted Development Rights (PDRs) mean that many extensions can now, in theory, be built without planning permission..
However, as Dave and Carol discovered, the rules on PDRs often differ radically from local strategic policies, and you can get conflicting advice from both planners and advisers. Add in the plethora of Article 4 directions across the local towns and villages, and you have a recipe for disaster!
Guildford Council's design rules exclude wide flat dormers
..but under PDRs this is totally permissible!
"It was really confusing to be told by one planning officer that we couldn't do what we wanted, then advised by another that we could - Peter's deep understanding of the planning rules meant we were able to get the extensions we wanted."
Permitted Development Rights were designed to allow the average household extension to be built without the need for planning permission. They are a national scheme, so apply all across the country, often in contradiction to the planning strategies put in place by local authorities. This is a recipe for confusion, and more and more planning officers now advise all applicants to get full planning permission in case PDRs are ever revoked or over-ruled.
Dave and Carol wanted the largest extension they could possibly get, both in a loft conversion and from a rear single storey extension that would add six metres to the length of their house. Achieving all this within council guidelines was not possible, but using PDRs delivered a totally different outcome.
"We knew exactly what we wanted, and had seen similar large flat dormers on several houses, so being told that the council policies specifically excluded that made no sense. We were determined to get it through, and Peter found the way."
Although PDRs look like an easy route to planning, they are actually riddled with complexity, such as neighbour consultations and the need to get certificates of lawful development (CLDs) if you want to sell. Many planners want to see the back of them, so we are keeping a watchful eye on how the situation changes.
The six metre rear extension gave room for utility, downstairs shower and a large kitchen/ diner
Changing a hipped roof to gable and wide dormer added a large second floor room .
One reason why councils are unhappy with PDRs is that they ride roughshod over their local policies. Many authorities now regret the large overbearing flat-roofed dormers that became de rigeure in the latter part of the 20th Century, which is why, like Guildford, their policies specifically exclude them.
However, unless you live in a conservation area, AONB, National park, or have an Article 4 direction, PDRs can be used to over-rule the local authority. We do warn clients that the process is actually a lot more complex than simple planning. We've done many developments using PDRs, but they need a lot of knowledge to work.