With house prices on a steep trajectory upwards, more people are improving what they already have, rather than upscaling to a larger property. In many instances, that includes adding a conservatory to the property to give you an extra room. Sunny, spacious, and perfect for entertaining or simply relaxing, a conservatory is a popular choice for anyone who wants to expand their property footprint.
However, it’s not just a matter of contacting a conservatory company and getting on with your home improvements. Depending on a number of factors you may need to get planning permission before you start work. Failure to do some simple checks before you pick your perfect conservatory could prove to be very costly indeed.
Retrospective permission – the benefits (or lack thereof) of hindsight
If you do build a conservatory onto your property without permission and it transpires that you do need consent, then you may be forced to apply for retrospective permission by your local building office. If your application for retrospective planning permission is refused then you could be subject to an Enforcement Notice. Unless your appeal against this is successful the council can insist that you remove the structure completely, or at very best make expensive changes to the design. Bear in mind that failure to comply with an Enforcement Notice is an offence.
Conservatories – ‘permitted development rights’
Not all conservatories require planning permission, as they are glazed structures and are covered by ‘permitted development rights’ in many cases. A single-storey extension may not require planning permission if it meets a set of criteria including:
- The conservatory doesn’t cover more than half of your garden;
- You’ve already carried out modifications to your home with extensions;
- The roof ridge is no higher than the eaves of your house’s roof;
- Your conservatory is no more than 4m high (or 3m if you are within 2m of a boundary);
- Any side extensions do not extend past half the width of the property.
Neighbour Consultation Schemes
The size of permitted conservatories was doubled by the government in 2013. Until May 2019 you can extend outwards by up to 8m for detached properties, or 6m for other house types. In some cases, you may be able to complete a ‘Neighbour Consultation’ rather than go through the planning permission route. This is designed to make sure your planned conservatory doesn’t impact on your neighbour’s living space or quality of life.
The type of conservatory you want will determine whether you ultimately need permission from the planning department of your local council. Broadly, you shouldn’t need building regulations if:
- The conservatory is built at ground level, is less than 30m sq and at least 1m away from any boundary.
- It has an external wall or windows and doors separating it from the main property. If you want to remove walls between the conservatory and your property then you will need to comply with building regulations.
- It has an independent heating system. If you are attaching your conservatory to your property without any separating wall then you’ll need to show that your design will make the conservatory as thermally efficient as the rest of your property.
Work with your contactor and your solicitor
If you do need to apply for planning permission then you’ll need to ask your contractor to provide the planning department with full working drawings, including heat-loss calculations and any major structural considerations. If you’re not sure whether you need planning permission then talk to a solicitor with experience in planning applications and property law first.
Permission may also be required if your property is in a conservation area (including national parks), is listed (both Grade II and Grade I buildings), is of special interest even if not listed, or is particularly close to major utilities such as water or gas mains.
Website content note
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.