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Do you need planning permission for a loft conversion?

Loft conversions are among the most desired major home improvements, and one of the first questions asked by many of those who approach us about such a project here at Unique Lofts is: will I need planning permission to make my own dream conversion possible?

The answer to this can be a little more complicated than you might expect. The essential ‘takeaway’ point is that most loft conversions can be undertaken without the need for planning permission, as they are considered to be ‘permitted development’.

However, various conditions must be met for your own loft conversion to qualify as permitted development. Moreover, even if you don’t need to seek planning permission, the project must still comply with building regulations, to say nothing of the other permissions that may be required.

Determining whether planning permission will be needed

Given the various technicalities and complexities involved in determining whether a given proposed loft conversion will require planning permission, it’s best to talk first to our architects and builders here at Unique Lofts, not least as they will likely be able to bring up issues you may not have even considered.

However, as a general rule, you probably won’t need planning permission for your conversion if it satisfies the following conditions:

  • The total area of the additional space not exceeding 40 cubic metres in the case of terraced houses, or 50 cubic metres if your property is detached or semi-detached
  • The extension not reaching beyond the outermost part of the current roof slope at the front of the property
  • The extension not reaching higher than your roof’s highest point
  • The materials having a similar appearance to the existing property
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms being included
  • The side windows being obscure-glazed – i.e. frosted or patterned – to prevent people seeing inside
  • Side-facing window openings being at least 1.7 metres above the floor
  • Roof extensions – unless they are hip-to-gable ones – being set back as far as practicable, a minimum of 20cm from the original eaves
  • The roof enlargement not overhanging the outer face of the original house’s wall
  • The house not being on designated land, such as a national park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads, a conservation area or World Heritage Site

It’s worth noting that the aforementioned volume allowances must include any previous additions to your roof space. Any additional space created by a previous owner of your property counts towards this – not just any such additions you may have made.

Furthermore, the above permitted development allowances apply to houses rather than flats, maisonettes, converted houses or other buildings – all the more reason, then, for you to consult with Unique Lofts’ experts today to ensure you are making the right calls from the very start.

Nor should your conversations with us only be about planning permission…

Any loft conversion – whether or not it requires planning permission – also needs Building Regulations approval, a process that involves a building control surveyor inspecting your work at various stages and issuing you with a completion certificate on final inspection.

Furthermore, Party Wall requirements will come into play if the work that you are proposing will affect the wall that joins your house to that of your neighbour.

There’s a lot to think about when you are planning a loft conversion, so don’t just ask our experts about planning permission. Make sure you’re suitably informed and prepared so that you can minimise any unexpected headaches and get the best results from your own conversion!


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