Planning ahead (Part 1) – An overview of the changes to permitted development rights

Date published




The Government is wuthering to new heights and is encouraging the country to build, build, build under changes to permitted development.

Permitted development rights are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015, as amended. The rights allow certain building works to be carried out without submission of a planning application to the local authority but any development will be subject to conditions and limitations to protect the local amenity. The changes to the rights introduce the following permitted developments:

Two storey extension of blocks of flats

From 1 August 2020, the Town and Country Planning (Permitted Development and Miscellaneous Amendments) (England) (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 (SI No.632) (the Regulations) introduced, under Part 20 of Schedule 2 of the Order, a new class of permitted development allowing purpose-built detached blocks of flats to be extended by up to two additional storeys so as to encourage the creation of new housing without having to obtain planning permission.

The Regulations set out where development is not permitted and this includes where the building was constructed before 1 July 1948, or after 5 March 2018. Where the development is permitted, the developer, prior to commencing any works, still needs to make an application to the local planning authority seeking prior approval. They must also comply with the conditions set out in the Regulations, which includes identifying transport, highways and air traffic impacts, contamination and flooding risks, provision of natural light to the new habitable rooms and impact on the amenity of existing buildings and neighbouring premises.

Additional storeys to dwellinghouse

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No.2) Order 2020 (SI No.755) comes into force on 31 August 2020 and introduces a new Class AA to Part 1 of Schedule 2 of the 2015 Order, which is the enlargement of a dwellinghouse by construction of up to two additional storeys (where the dwelling is two or more storeys) or one additional storey where the dwelling consists of one storey.

Again, approval is required and there are restrictions placed on the ability to exercise the right. These include no right to develop where the house was constructed before 1 July 1948 or after 28 October 2018 or where additional storeys have already been added by virtue of this Order or otherwise. Following completion of the development, the height of the highest part of the roof must not be more than 18 metres. There are also conditions to be complied with before development begins which includes prior approval for the external appearance and elevations and the impact on the amenity of any adjoining premises.

Part 20 of the 2020 Order also provides for the following new classes of permitted development relating to additions above the topmost storey and approval, restrictions and conditions apply before any works commence:

Class AA – new dwellinghouse on detached buildings in commercial or mixed use

Class AB – new dwellinghouse on terrace buildings in commercial or mixed use

Class AC – new dwellinghouse on terrace buildings in use as dwellinghouse

Class AD – new dwellings on detached buildings in use as dwellinghouse

Demolition of buildings and construction of new dwellinghouse

The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) (Amendment) (No.3) Order 2020 (SI No.756) comes into force on 31 August 2020. The Order introduces a new Class ZA to Schedule 2, Part 20, which allows for the demolition of any building comprising a single purpose-built detached block of flats and any other single detached building established for office use within Class B1(a), research and development use within Class B1(b) or for an industrial process within Class B1(c) or any combination of these uses existing on 12 March 2020.

Approval is required before such development commences and restrictions apply so that development is not permitted if the old building was constructed after 31 December 1989, if the footprint of that building exceeds 1000 square meters, the land covered by or within the building is listed, forms part of a safety hazard area or military explosives storage area or is 3 km of an aerodrome. This is not an exhaustive list and there is a requirement that the building needs to have been vacant at least 6 months immediately prior to the application for approval.


The Government’s drive is for developers to create more habitable space and developments are being encouraged without the usual red tape, costs and time periods involved in obtaining planning permission. However, there are still restrictions and conditions to be adhered to which should be followed carefully to ensure that the end user complies with the new planning regime. Whilst the new Regulation and Orders are welcomed and will allow certain types of developments to take place in our immediate surroundings, which is good news for the economy, any breach of the limitations on, or conditions relating to permitted development rights will constitute a contravention of planning control against which enforcement action can be taken by a local authority so the letter of the law needs to be followed.