If you live in a house (not a flat or a maisonette) or run a business you may be able to make alterations to your property without needing to make a planning application, depending on some limits and conditions. These rights are called 'permitted development rights'.
If you think your development would fall within permitted development rights, we recommend that before carrying out works, you apply to the council for a 'certificate of lawfulness'. This is an optional application that asks the council to confirm in a legal document that the proposed works would be lawful (that they would comply with the legislation). A certificate can give peace of mind before you start works, and may be required during any future sale of your property. It is strongly recommended that you apply for a certificate of lawfulness before starting works, because the legislation can be difficult to interpret, and it is not uncommon for people to make mistakes in interpretation.
If you are thinking of making alterations to your property, read the online guidance on the Planning Portal and in the guide below.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. Permitted development rights and restrictions
- 2. Planning application advice
- 3. Pre-application planning advice
1. Permitted development rights and restrictions
Government legislation grants automatic planning permission for certain types of development (for example certain types of extensions and alterations). Such development is called 'permitted development', and does not require planning permission from the council.
Part of the legislation relates to works to houses, and this is the part meant when most people talk about 'permitted development' rights.
Although most houses benefit from these permitted development rights, there are a number of exceptions, including the following:
- Flats and maisonettes (whether purpose-built or converted) do not benefit from these types of permitted development rights
- Some houses have had their permitted development rights removed by an Article 4 direction
- Some houses have had their permitted development rights removed by a condition on a previous planning permission. For example, this can be the case for houses that have been built in the last 30-40 years, or for houses that have been converted (such as from flats to a house, or from a commercial property into a house) in the last 30-40 years.
If a house benefits from permitted development rights but is situated within a conservation area, then its rights will be reduced (for example no side extension or no roof extensions etc).
If a house benefits from permitted development rights but is a listed building, then its rights will be reduced (for example no outbuildings etc) and most works will still require listed building consent.
If you wish to undertake works that are permitted development, then such works do not require planning permission from the council (because they are granted planning permission by the GPDO). However, please note the following:
- The fact that works are permitted under planning legislation does not change whether or not they require approval under other areas of legislation, such as the Building Regulations, the Party Wall Act, etc.
- If you think your development would fall within permitted development rights, we recommend that before carrying out works, you apply to the council for a 'certificate of lawfulness'. This is an optional application that asks the council to confirm in a legal document that the proposed works would be lawful (that they would comply with the legislation). A certificate can give peace of mind before you start works, and may be required during any future sale of your property. It is strongly recommended that you apply for a certificate of lawfulness before starting works, because the legislation can be difficult to interpret, and it is not uncommon for people to make mistakes in interpretation.
2. Planning application advice
As from 1 October 2014 we no longer provide a duty planner service. There are many sources of good online advice for common developments and some of these are explored below. We also offer a paid pre-application advice service if you would like our informal opinion of your proposed development.
You may also want to consider employing an architect or planning agent to help you develop your plans. Architects and planning agents may also be able to advise if you will need planning permission or any other formal consents and help you to submit your application.
Will you need planning permission?
For some developments you do not need our formal permission because planning laws grant permission under permitted development rights. The Planning Portal provides comprehensive and easy to follow advice on whether planning permission is required for many different types of development. The Government also offer technical planning guidance for householders to help with interpretation of the permitted development rights.
If you would like our confirmation of whether or not a development will require planning permission you will need to submit a Lawful Development Certificate Proposed (LDCP) application. We recommend that you apply for a LDCP even if you believe you do not require formal permission as a mistake in interpreting the rules can be expensive once building work has commenced.
Get advice on householder developments
If you do require planning permission, our Building Alterations and Extensions Supplementary Planning Document gives details of our policies on householder development. There is also specific guidance for the replacement of windows in residential properties and the steps to take to get permission for a vehicle crossover (dropped kerb).
We offer a paid pre-application advice service that will give you our informal opinion of your proposal.
Get advice on other developments
For other types of development, including house conversions, new dwellings, advertisements and commercial developments, we recommend you look at our planning policies and the Mayor’s London Plan as the policies within form the basis on which all applications for planning permission will be decided. We also have detailed guidance for particular types of development in our Building Alterations and Extensions Supplementary Planning Document.
We also offer a paid pre-application advice service that will give you our informal opinion of your proposal.
Get information about what to submit with your application
You can find general advice on the planning application form guidance notes and the Local Planning Applications Requirements document provides more detailed advice.
Get information about a properties history or use
Our online planning application database and register of historic decision notices provide details of all planning applications decided since 1986 and copies of many decision notices going back to the formation of the borough and beyond.
Historic application files can also be ordered (a charge will be made for file retrievals) for viewing at our office in Brixton - please email us with details of the files you wish to view.
If you would like our written confirmation of a properties history or use you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate for an Existing use or development (LDCE).
Get information about a nearby development
If you are interested in finding out more about a proposed development in your area you can review the plans and documents submitted with the application for permission online in our planning applications database.
Get advice on other planning matters
The government provides planning practice guidance that gives clear and easy to read advice on planning and the planning application process. Our website also has useful advice about some of the other planning subjects:
If you would like our written informal opinion on other planning matters, this can be provided for a fee of £33 per half hour (including VAT) up to a maximum of 1½ hours.
This service is provided at our discretion and may be suitable for matters such as:
- Solicitors requests for copies of all planning consents for a site or property.
- Requests for our advice on whether a property is within a consultation zone or has pending applications or proposals.
- Requests for our advice on planning matters that we believe do not require the submission of a pre-application advice request.
- Requests for our advice on conservation or design matters that we believe do not require the submission of a pre-application advice request.
- Requests for our advice on detailed planning policy matters.
Please note that some of the information which this service can provide is also available free of charge or at lower cost through the planning application database, on our website, or by arranging to view old planning application files by appointment at our Phoenix House office in Vauxhall.
To use this service please email details of your enquiry to:
We will then assess how long it will take to answer and advise you of the cost. Payment is required before the advice is provided.
3. Pre-application planning advice
Talk to us for advice before you make a planning application, to understand how our policies apply and get an early idea of the feasibility of a project. For larger, more complicated developments, you can consider a Planning Performance Agreement.