Planning VS Permitted Development

What is the difference between planning and permitted development? This is one of our most commonly asked questions at our Home Tales site visits and surveys. It’s an area of confusion and it’s easy to see why. The terminology is often used incorrectly by professionals and publications. House renovations in London are complicated enough – the last thing you need is ambiguity on permission. 

We get all kinds of questions on this topic. What is permitted development? Can we apply under permitted development? And what exactly is the difference between permitted development and full planning permission? All of these are excellent questions. We thought we would write a blog to give you those all-important answers. 

The short answer

In short, full planning permission is asking permission to build a scheme, whereas permitted development is simply notifying of your intention to do so. Planning permission is a very grey area, as it’s open to interpretation by borough and individual case officer. Each borough has a Supplementary Planning Document (more commonly known as an SPD). This sets out their goals and ambitions for their urban development and always includes a section on residential development. For offer some context for the interpretation comment above, these SPD’s often say extensions should not be ‘overbearing’ and should remain ‘respectful’ in size and proportion’ of the host property. In contrast to this, Permitted Development has actual rules that the proposal needs to adhere to. Permitted development is black and white. If it complies with the rules, it will be granted. If it doesn’t comply, it will be rejected. 

Can I apply under permitted development? 

The first thing to do is check that your property qualifies. You generally cannot apply under permitted development if the property is a flat, maisonette or within a conservation area. Next, check that your desired scheme fits within the criteria. Permitted development has a fair few rules and restrictions that the scheme needs to adhere to.

When it comes to a ground floor extension, extensions must be single storey, and the height cannot exceed the maximum height within the original dwelling. Extensions cannot exceed 3m from the original rear wall, and materials must match the existing host property. In most cases, if our clients are undertaking a ground floor extension, we apply under full planning. The reason for this can vary, and in some cases is certainly is better to apply under Permitted Development. However, in general, our clients find the rules for permitted development too restrictive when it comes to ground floor extensions and as a result, they would need to sacrifice a part of their vision. For this reason, as a general rule of thumb and from our experience, it is easier to apply under full planning when it comes to a ground floor extension proposal. 

When it comes to a loft conversion, for Permitted Development, the proposed new area cannot exceed 40 cubic meters (for a terraced house) and the height cannot exceed that of the original dwelling. These are just a few of rules set out under permitted development. For our clients, this generally aligns with the client’s requirements, so we find we use it more for loft conversions. 

Do I want to use permitted development? 

Some of our clients find that the rules are too restrictive and designing a scheme in-line with them doesn’t achieve their desired result. We frequently use full planning permission, particularly for ground floor extensions. This is simply because we can create a larger scheme and most homeowners want to maximise space. 

We frequently use permitted development for loft conversions, as the full planning guidelines are generally fairly similar to the rules within permitted development. 

What are the benefits of applying with permitted development?

In terms of work for us, it’s a fairly similar process to full planning permission. Permitted development applications still require a planning set and an application to be submitted. The only difference is the fee payable to the local council tends to be a little cheaper (approx. £80), although this varies council to council. 

The main benefit of using Permitted Development over planning permission is that it’s a guaranteed outcome. For this reason, it’s much more common to apply for it retrospectively (as the works are being carried out). As long as the rules and regulations have been adhered to, you know you will get your certificate of lawfulness (approval via permitted development). With planning permission, it’s impossible to know whether the scheme will be accepted or rejected because it’s open to interpretation. 

Got questions? Give our friendly team a call today on 0207 043 2378 or email us at Did you know you can also book a site visit online via our online booking system? It takes a few minutes and you can check our availability and have a slot confirmed within a few seconds.

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