Do You Need Planning Permission for a Loft Conversion?

From gyms, spas and cinema rooms to a simple spare bedroom, your humble loft deserves a modernising transformation. Take it from being the most abandoned part of the house to a room you’ll want to show off to all your guests!

We know that most homeowners will shiver at the phrase “planning permission”. It’s the all important factor on which your architectural dreams and interiors plans hinge. But when all that paperwork takes over, giving up can seem surprisingly appealing!

So you may be wondering whether you need planning permission for a loft conversion, but fear not! The good news is it’s probably not required. However, just in case, this guide will help you determine whether you would need planning permission for a loft conversion or not.

1. Access The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development)

This is the government’s official document for homeowners. The most up-to-date version is from 2015, and schedule 2 is where you’ll find the information you need. Similarly, the government’s Permitted Development webpage contains documents and links to make the information easier to digest and understand for homeowners.

2. Check your location and property type

Properties in National Parks (including the Broads, Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites) have stronger restrictions. Similarly, the rules apply for houses NOT flats or maisonettes, listed buildings, non-residential buildings and spaces which have extra permitted development issues.

3. Know your specs

Find out the specified limits and conditions of your current roof. If you’d need to extend, add to or alter the actual roof space to fulfil your loft conversion plans, you may be in violation of the current specifications and need extra permission.

4. Check your plans follow the rules

Take an extended look at The Town and Country Planning to avoid mistakes. However, this general list of allowances should give you an idea of whether you’re going to need planning permission for a loft conversion or not. Allowances (i.e. without planning permission):

– A volume allowance of 40 cubic metres additional roof space for terraces, and 50 metres for detached and semi-detached homes (including previous work, even with other owners).

– Work within the current sloping plane of the roof, and not exceeding the highest point of the roof. – Roof lights are mostly acceptable.

– Materials that fit the property’s current appearance.

– No verandas, balconies or raised platforms. Though a Juliet balcony may be your dream, it will require planning permission for a loft conversion!

– Side facing windows which are obscure-glazed.

– Windows whose openings start above 1.7 metres from the floor and those which do not overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.

5. Think heat Regulations are not just about space; the heat efficiency of a loft conversion is government controlled to keep you safe. However, good modern insulation can solve this problem with relative ease.

6. Mind your head

Loft space can be uncared for before it’s converted, so the safety of the building is paramount. A minimum headroom of 2 metres for all escape routes – including any stairs – is required.

7. Fire safety

Any loft windows installed must have an escape capacity for emergencies; the regulations state that they must open at least 0.33m². A 30-minute fire resistance is required for all doors and walls. And electrical work must be carried out by a certified practitioner.

It may seem like a lot to plan for, but ultimately the benefits of feeling safe in a well-constructed home will outweigh the time it takes to read the legislation!

With intelligent design, you’ll come to realise that what seems like a poky space actually has the potential to be spacious and enjoyable. What’s more, you may be able to achieve this without ever having to apply for planning permission for a loft conversion in the first place.