Planning Approval

It can be easy to confuse planning applications and building regulations – thinking they are all part of the same process. They are actually two very different processes. A planning application is simply applying for the right to build something, whereas building regulations cover the detail and specification of exactly what you are building, and have no involvement with planning at all.I will cover building regulations in the next chapter, in detail.

The planning rules were amended in 2008. These amendments removed the need for many conservatories to have to have a planning application made to the council.

This simple guide will give you a good idea if you need to make a planning application or not.

You will require planning permission to build a conservatory if you can answer YES to any of the following.

Do you live in :

A listed building (Grade I, Grade II, Grade II star)
A National Park
The Broads
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
A Conservation Area
A World Heritage Site

These areas are considered to be Designated Lands and there are no permitted development rights – building restrictions are in force and planning applications are required.
If your property is not on designated land, you will normally haveyour permitted development rights in place* Permitted developments rights mean you can build on your house if you comply with certain criteria.

*Some properties that are not in designated lands have their permitted development rights removed – you should always check if you are unsure, by ringing your local council planning office.

If your permitted development rights have not been removed and you can answer YES to all of the following it is unlikely that you will need a planning application.

Is your conservatory:

On the back of the house
A single storey conservatory
Projecting no more than 3 metres if on a semi-detached house – from the original house**
Projecting no more than 4 metres if on a detached house – from the original house**
No higher than 3 metres at eaves if within 2 metres of a boundary
No higher than 4 metres at its highest point
The conservatory, when added to all other buildings on the property including sheds, garages and outbuildings, does not cover more than 50% of the overall land around the original house

** The original house means the house as it was first built, or as it stood on 1 July 1948 if it was built before that date.
Standard Planning Applications

To submit a planning application is quite a simple process. It should usually be completed by the designer or architect – they have the best understanding of the project and can answer any issues the council may bring up.

Here is a list of what is required to make an application:

Elevation drawings of the existing building
Plan drawings of the existing building
Site Location maps
Elevation drawings showing the proposed conservatory on the house
Plan drawings showing the proposed conservatory on the house

These details are submitted to the council together with a completed application form and a cheque (currently £150.00). The council will send a receipt showing they have received the application and an expected date for their decision which is usually 8 weeks from the date of the receipt.

Listed Building Planning Applications

Making a planning application for a listed building is the same as a normal application. The same drawings and location maps are supplied together with a design statement explaining why the proposed design has been chosen. However, I believe it should be approached in a very different way.

Proposing a conservatory on a listed building can be a sensitive issue and it has to be approached with care. You should always take into consideration the progressional or chronological development of the building. A story, if you like, of the buildings history and future. For example, if an original Georgian farmhouse was extended by the Victorians and then another extension was built in 1990, you would be able to see that these were additions over the course of time.

A new conservatory on this same house must obviously complement the existing mix of architecture, but it must also show itself to be a 21st Century addition.

Most architects and design professionals will involve a conservation officer at a very early stage in the design process. It can be very useful to seek their initial thoughts and to involve them in the design proposal. Many will happily discuss initial concepts over email or phone, and some may be prepared to visit the site.

Star Rated Listed Buildings

If your property has a star rating, the planning process for your project will involve a representative from English Heritage. The star rating usually applies to a certain detail on the property, perhaps the front facade, a staircase or a chimney.

If you are not 100% certain why you have a star rating, it’s best to find out before you plan the conservatory, as applications near or over one of these features are often declined.
Planning Appeals and Re-Designs

I have only ever experienced one project where no matter what I looked at, the design would have been declined (needless to say I didn’t make the formal application!) If a project is declined, it doesn’t necessarily mean that an amended design will also fail. All planning and conservation officers will tell you why the design has been declined and most will assist with some ideas where possible for a re-design. If you are convinced that you should be able to build the initial proposal you do have the right of appeal.

Whilst I have never had to make an appeal, I do know that this can result in a lengthy and sometimes costly adventure that should not be taken lightly.

New Builds

If you live in a newly built house, the planning guides are the same. However you should be aware that many developments areapproved, but have their permitted development rights removed by Article 4 directions. This means that you will need planning approval for any additional building on your land.

Some developers also have a clause in their contracts that state any proposals for conservatories within the first X (usually 10) years,require their authorisation together with a cheque for £100 – £200, so always read the small print!

If you would like some further details on planning, you can find an interactive guide with additional information here or you can contact Matthew on 01603 869001 for some free help.


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“From concept to completion, you have been professional in every department.”

Mr & Mrs P. Norfolk

“We are absolutely delighted with our finished Conservatory but also have been delighted with the prompt courteous and efficient service, and attention to detail, follow up and excellent communication, from start to finish, and beyond, and would unreservedly highly recommend Morgan Bishop”

Mr & Mrs B. Hethersett, Norfolk.

“Throughout the build every member of your team demonstrated a very high skill level along with a desire to provide only the best.”

Peter & Elaine. North Norfolk

“You listened to us and took away our sketchy ideas, molded them into a workable design and built exactly what we hoped for.”

Mr & Mrs P. Heacham. Norfolk

“Thank you Matthew and your team for all your time, care and expertise, you could not have been more helpful… we are thrilled with our lovely new elegant room!”

Ali B. Harpenden, Herts.