Permitted Development Rights (PDR) and change of use: What is it, how does it work, and how can I finance this type of development?

Permitted Development Rights” (PDR) allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without needing to apply for planning permission. These include home extensions, agricultural enhancements, and changes of use, such as converting office spaces to residential areas.

These rights are granted by the UK government and intended to simplify the planning process for minor or noncontroversial changes that conform to specific criteria. They offer property owners flexibility within specific size and scope limits to facilitate development while maintaining regulatory oversight. However, certain areas, such as conservation areas, may have restrictions, so consultation with local planning authorities is important to ensure compliance.

This article explores PDR, how it works and how to finance it.

Permitted Development Rights

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights cover a wide range of work, including extensions, changes of use, and other alterations. Specific rules for what constitutes permitted development depend on factors such as the type of property, its location, and the changes proposed.

What are the key areas covered by permitted development rights?

Home extensions, agricultural developments, and certain use changes may not need planning permission under PDR, subject to specific rules. Here’s more information on those.

  • Home Extensions and Alterations. Homeowners can add single-storey extensions, loft conversions, and some two-storey extensions without planning permission, subject to size limitations and neighbours' consultation.
  • Agricultural and Forestry Developments. Agricultural buildings and operations can often be constructed or expanded without full planning permission.
  • Change of use. Certain buildings can change from one use to another without planning permission. For example, offices can sometimes be converted to residential use under PDR.

What is Change of Use Under Permitted Development Rights?

One of the most significant aspects of PDR is the allowance for change of use of buildings without obtaining planning permission. Here are 3 common examples.

Class Type Explanation
Class G Change of use Allows the change of use of a building from retail (Class A1) or financial and professional services (Class A2) to a residential dwelling (C3).
Class O Change of use

Allows offices (B1(a)) to be converted into residential dwellings (C3).

Class M Change of use Class M Change of use. Permits a change of use from shops, financial and professional services (Class A1 or A2), takeaways (Class A5), betting offices, payday loan shops, or launderettes to residential use (Class C3).

How can I use Permitted Development Rights for Change of Use?

Using Permitted Development Rights for changing the use of a property can streamline the planning process, but it requires careful adherence to specific criteria and regulations. With this in mind, these 5 steps outline essential steps such as checking specific criteria, undergoing the prior approval process, consulting with the local planning authority, understanding the limitations and exclusions in sensitive areas, and obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate. Each step ensures compliance and smooth execution of property use change under PDR, avoiding common pitfalls and legal issues.

  1. Check the Specific Criteria. Each class of change of use under PDR has specific criteria that must be met. This includes limitations on the size of the building, the impact on transport and highways, and the risk of flooding or contamination.
  2. Prior Approval Process. For many types of change of use, although full planning permission is not required, you must apply for prior approval regarding certain aspects related to the site and area. This might include noise impact, parking, and how the change of use will impact essential services.
  3. Consult the Local Planning Authority. Always check with your local planning authority (LPA) before proceeding. They can confirm whether the development is permitted under PDR, any conditions that apply, and whether a prior approval application is necessary.
  4. Understand Limitations and Exclusions. Some areas, such as conservation areas, national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Broads, may have more restricted PDRs, or the LPA may remove a PDR via an Article 4 Direction.
  5. Lawful Development Certificate. To formally confirm that your development is lawful under PDR and prior approvals have been met, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate from your local planning authority.
  6. Start Development. Once you've received your Lawful Development Certificate, you can begin work on your property, safe in the knowledge that if you develop as agreed, you'll satisfy the Permitted Development Rights criteria.
  7. Stay compliant. During the build, you must monitor its compliance with the Permitted Development Rights criteria. Any deviation from the plans submitted to gain your Lawful Development Certificate should be carefully considered.

Using PDR for change of use can significantly simplify the process of repurposing buildings, efficiently use existing structures, and reduce the need for new construction. However, careful planning and adherence to the regulations are essential to avoid legal issues and ensure that the development proceeds smoothly.

What's the process of using Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development FAQs

What are Permitted Development Rights for home extensions and alterations?

Permitted Development Rights (PDR) allow homeowners in the UK to make certain types of home extensions and alterations without needing to apply for planning permission. These rights facilitate relatively minor improvements, such as single and some two-storey extensions, loft conversions, and certain changes to the facade of a house. However, there are limits on size, volume, and height, and the specific conditions vary based on the property location and type. Homeowners are advised to consult their local planning authority to confirm applicable rules and ensure their project does not require prior approval or infringe on any local restrictions, such as those in conservation areas or listed buildings.

Do I need planning permission for a small home extension under PDR?

Whether you need planning permission for a small home extension under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK depends on several factors, including the size and location of the extension. Generally, small home extensions won’t require planning permission if they meet specific criteria outlined in the PDR:

  • Size Limits. The extension does not exceed the permitted dimensions – typically no more than half the area of land around the "original house" as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948.
  • Height Restrictions. Single-storey rear extensions must not extend beyond the rear wall of the original house by more than four metres for a detached house or three metres for other types of houses. The maximum height is usually four metres.
  • Materials. The materials used in the extension should appear similar to those of the existing house.
  • Location. The extension should not sit forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  • Designated Land. Additional restrictions apply if your property is located in designated land, which includes national parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, and World Heritage Sites.

It's crucial to check with your local planning authority because local conditions and previous building works can affect your rights under PDR. Additionally, depending on the size of the extension, even if planning permission is not required, you might still need to notify your local planning authority about the proposed development under the Neighbour Consultation Scheme.

What are the size limits for single-storey and two-storey extensions under PDR?

Under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK, specific size limits are set for both single-storey and two-storey extensions to a house. These limits allow homeowners to expand their properties without a full planning application, provided they follow the guidelines below.

Building a single-storey extension under PDR

  1. Depth. Single-storey rear extensions can extend up to 6 metres from the original rear wall of an attached house (e.g., semi-detached or terraced) and up to 8 metres for a detached house.
  2. Height. The maximum height of a single-storey extension should not exceed 4 metres.
  3. Eaves Height. Where the extension is within 2 metres of any boundary, the eaves height should not exceed 3 metres.

Building a two-storey extension under PDR

  1. Depth. Two-storey extensions can extend up to 3 metres from the original rear wall of the house.
  2. Height. Under PDR, there are no specific height limits for two-storey extensions, but they must be no higher than the highest part of the existing roof.
  3. Distance from Boundary. The extension must be no closer than 7 metres to any rear boundary.

Additional Conditions

  • Side Extensions. Single-storey side extensions must be no more than half the width of the original house and have a maximum height of 4 metres with eaves heights of no more than 3 metres.
  • Proximity to Boundary. For all extensions, if they are within 2 metres of a boundary, the eaves height should not exceed 3 metres.
  • Volume Limits. Extensions should not increase the volume of the original house by more than 40 cubic metres for terraced houses or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses.

Important Considerations

  • Designated Areas. In designated areas such as conservation areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Broads, national parks, and World Heritage Sites, some permitted development rights for extensions are restricted or completely removed.
  • Materials and Design. Materials used in exterior work must appear similar to those on the existing house's exterior.

Are there height restrictions for extensions built under Permitted Development Rights?

Yes, there are specific height restrictions for extensions built under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK. These restrictions are designed to ensure that extensions integrate well with the existing house and do not adversely impact neighbouring properties. The two key height restrictions are: 

  1. The maximum height of a single-storey extension should not exceed 4 metres.
  2. Where the extension is within 2 metres of any boundary, the eaves height should not exceed 3 metres.

Can I convert my loft into a living space under PDR?

Yes, you can convert your loft into a living space under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK, provided you meet certain conditions and limitations designed to ensure the conversion is safe, respects the external appearance of the building, and minimises impact on neighbours. Here’s a breakdown of the key conditions you must adhere to:

What are the key conditions for Loft Conversions under PDR?

Volume Allowance.

  • For terraced houses, the additional volume created by the conversion must not exceed 40 cubic metres.
  • For detached and semi-detached houses, the limit is 50 cubic metres.

No Extension Beyond the Plane of the Existing Roof Slope.

  • The loft conversion must not extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope on the principal elevation that fronts a highway.


  • The materials used in the conversion should resemble those used in the construction of the rest of the house.

No Verandas, Balconies, or Raised Platforms.

  • For loft conversions, Verandas, balconies, and raised platforms are not permitted under PDR.

Side-facing Windows.

  • Any side-facing windows must be obscure-glazed and non-opening unless the parts which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which they are installed.

Protected Areas.

  • Different rules may apply in designated areas such as conservation areas, national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Broads. You may need to seek specific permission or find that PDR is more restricted.

Roof Alterations.

  • Apart from hip-to-gable conversions, which are allowed under PDR, any alteration to extend or alter the roof space beyond its current limits typically requires planning permission.

Additional Considerations:

  • Structural Safety. Ensure that the conversion is structurally safe. This involves considering the additional load on the existing house structure and may require approval from the building regulation.
  • Access and Egress. Proper access and egress must be planned, usually via a permanent staircase, to meet building regulations for safety.
  • Building Regulations. Compliance with building regulations, covering aspects such as fire safety, insulation, and ventilation, is required. This is separate from planning permission and mandatory.
  • Lawful Development Certificate. Although not mandatory, obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate from your local planning authority is highly recommended. This certificate legally establishes that your loft conversion is lawful under PDR and does not require planning permission.

Before proceeding with a loft conversion under PDR, it’s advisable to consult with your local planning authority or a professional to ensure all requirements are met and to prevent any future legal or regulatory issues.

What constitutes a 'neighbour consultation scheme', and when do I need it?

The “neighbour consultation scheme” requirement under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK applies when homeowners wish to undertake larger rear extensions without full planning permission. This scheme was introduced to balance the streamlined process of PDR with the potential impact such developments might have on neighbouring properties.

When is the Neighbour Consultation Scheme Required?

The neighbour consultation scheme is specifically required for single-storey rear extensions that exceed certain size thresholds but remain within the limits allowed under PDR for larger home extensions. These thresholds are:

  • Extensions more than 4 metres and up to 8 metres deep for detached houses.
  • Extensions more than 3 metres and up to 6 metres deep for all other house types.

Key Aspects of the Neighbour Consultation Scheme:

  1. Notification. Homeowners must notify the local planning authority of their intended project. This notification should include a detailed plan of the work and a site plan that shows the extension in relation to the property boundaries and the neighbouring properties.
  2. Outreach to Neighbours. The local planning authority will inform adjoining neighbours about the proposed extension. This communication includes details of the extension and how it may affect them.
  3. Objection Period. Neighbours have a period—usually 21 days from the date they are notified—to raise any objections. They may express concerns about potential issues such as loss of light or privacy or the impact on their enjoyment of their property.
  4. Local Authority Decision. If any objections are received, the local planning authority will consider these when deciding whether to allow the development to proceed under PDR. The authority will assess the impact on the amenity of neighbouring properties. It may require modifications to the plan or deny permission under PDR, in which case full planning permission would be required.
  5. Approval. If no objections are received, or the local authority deems the objections insufficient to warrant refusal, the development can proceed under the conditions of PDR.

Why is the Neighbour Consultation Scheme Important?

This scheme is crucial because it provides a mechanism for neighbours to have a say in developments that could directly affect their living conditions while allowing homeowners the freedom to enhance and extend their properties without undergoing the full planning application process.

Homeowners considering a larger extension under PDR should always ensure they understand the requirements of the neighbour consultation scheme to maintain good relationships with neighbours and ensure compliance with local planning regulations.

How close to my property boundary can I build an extension under PDR?

Under Permitted Development Rights (PDR), the distance an extension can be built from your property boundary depends on several factors, including the type of extension and its height. Here are the guideline takeaways.

  • Single-storey extensions can be built close to a boundary. However, if the eaves and gutters of the extension are within 2 metres of the boundary, the maximum height of the eaves should not exceed 3 metres.
  • Two-storey extensions must be no closer than 7 metres to any rear boundary. This requirement is to reduce the potential for overlooking and loss of privacy for neighbouring properties and to ensure adequate access and light.

Do Permitted Development Rights apply to listed buildings or homes in conservation areas?

Permitted Development Rights (PDR) are generally more restricted for listed buildings and homes in conservation areas due to the additional protections in place to preserve their historical and architectural significance.

Listed Buildings

Permitted Development Rights do not apply to listed buildings. Any alterations, extensions, or other works that affect the character of a listed building, either externally or internally, require Listed Building Consent from your local planning authority. This requirement is in addition to any other planning permissions that may be needed. The process ensures that any modifications preserve the building's historical integrity.

Conservation Areas

In conservation areas, Permitted Development Rights are more limited compared to other areas. While some forms of development may still be allowed under PDR, certain works, especially those affecting the exterior appearance of the buildings, often require planning permission. For example, the rights to carry out cladding, side extensions, or to install satellite dishes on the front elevation are usually restricted or removed under Article 4 Directions by local planning authorities to maintain the aesthetic and character of the area.

Special Considerations

  1. Article 4 Directions. Local authorities can remove specific Permitted Development Rights through Article 4 Directions. This action is commonly taken in conservation areas to ensure that any changes maintain the neighbourhood's character. Homeowners should check with their local council to see if any Article 4 Directions apply to their property.
  2. Prior Approval Requirements. Even in areas where some Permitted Development Rights apply, homeowners might still need to seek prior approval for certain types of work from the local planning authority. This process provides a safeguard, allowing the authority to consider the potential impacts on the surrounding area.
  3. Additional Permissions. In conservation areas, even when PDR applies, additional permissions such as planning permission might still be required for changes that involve the alteration of the roofline, the construction of new structures, or alterations affecting the road-facing properties.


If your home is in a conservation area or is a listed building, it is crucial to consult with your local planning authority before undertaking any work. They can guide you on what is or isn't permissible and what additional steps you may need to take to comply with local planning laws and regulations. Applying for a Lawful Development Certificate from the local authority can also be a prudent step to confirm that the proposed works are lawful under PDR or to establish that planning permission is not required.

What documentation must I provide to prove my extension complies with PDR?

To prove that your home extension complies with Permitted Development Rights (PDR), you may need to submit specific documentation to your local planning authority, especially if you're applying for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). An LDC is not mandatory but highly recommended as it legally confirms that your building work complies with PDR and does not require planning permission. Here’s what you typically need to provide:

Required Documentation for a Lawful Development Certificate:

  1. Application Form. Complete the specific application form for a Lawful Development Certificate provided by your local council. This form will require details about the homeowner, the property, and the specifics of the proposed development.
  2. Site Plans. Submit detailed site plans that include the existing site, property boundaries, and details of the proposed extension. The plans should show the extension in relation to the house and its boundaries, including measurements and distances to boundary lines.
  3. Elevation Drawings. Provide existing and proposed elevation drawings that show what the property will look like from different angles after the extension is completed. This should include the front, rear, and side views if applicable.
  4. Block Plan. A block plan (sometimes called a location plan) at a standard scale (typically 1:500 or 1:200) showing the property and its immediate surroundings. This plan helps to demonstrate the site's context within the neighbourhood.
  5. Description of Materials. Details about the materials to be used in the construction of the extension, demonstrating that they are similar in appearance to those used in the existing property, as required by PDR.
  6. Written Description. A detailed written description of the proposed development, including dimensions and the volume of the addition relative to the original house. This description should clarify how the development complies with specific PDR criteria.
  7. Fee. A fee is usually required to process the application for a Lawful Development Certificate.

Additional Considerations

  • Photographs. Although not always mandatory, including photographs of the existing property and the site can help provide context to the application.
  • Neighbour Consultation Scheme Submission. If applicable, include documentation demonstrating compliance with the neighbour consultation scheme, such as proof of neighbour notifications and any responses received.
  • Previous Planning Decisions. If any relevant previous planning decisions related to your property exist, including these, they can help the local authority understand the context of the current proposal.

Submitting this documentation to your local planning authority will help streamline the process and increase your chances of obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate. This certificate will be valuable, especially when selling the property or resolving any disputes over the legality of the development. If you're unsure about the documentation requirements or the specifics of PDR in your area, consulting with a planning professional or local planning authority is advisable.

Are there specific materials or designs I must use to comply with PDR?

Any extensions or alterations made to your property typically need to use materials that are in keeping with and similar in appearance to those used in the existing property. This helps the new works blend in with the original structure, maintaining the building's aesthetic coherence and character.

Additionally, while PDR does allow for certain developments without full planning permission, any changes must not conflict with specific design guidelines stipulated by local planning authorities, especially in conservation areas or other designated lands where restrictions might be tighter. It’s always a good idea to check with your local planning authority for any specific local criteria or restrictions that may apply to your project.

Can I combine different types of extensions, like adding both a rear extension and a loft conversion under PDR?

Yes, you can combine different types of development work, such as adding both a rear extension and a loft conversion under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) simultaneously, provided each component of the project individually complies with the specific conditions and limitations set out for PDR. This means each part of your development must adhere to the relevant measurements, material requirements, and other conditions like distance from boundaries, impact on neighbouring properties, and overall volume increases.

What are the limitations on balconies, verandas, or raised platforms under PDR?

Under Permitted Development Rights (PDR) in the UK, there are specific restrictions on the construction of balconies, verandas, or raised platforms as part of residential properties. These structures typically do not fall under PDR, meaning planning permission is usually required for installation. 

Limitation on balconies under PDR

Adding a balcony to a house is generally not permitted under PDR because it involves the creation of an elevated platform with external access, which could have significant visual impact and potential privacy issues affecting neighbouring properties.

Limitation on Verandas under PDR

Verandas (covered platforms adjacent to a building) are also excluded from PDR. This restriction is due to their potential to alter significantly the external appearance and character of a dwelling.

Limitation on Raised Platforms under PDR

Any raised platform that exceeds 30 centimetres in height above ground level is typically not covered by PDR, requiring planning permission. This includes decking areas or other similar structures.

These limitations ensure that such structures, which can be visually intrusive and have potential privacy implications, undergo proper assessment by the local planning authority to ensure they are in keeping with local development plans and do not adversely affect neighbours or the local environment.

How do Permitted Development Rights affect my rights to light or privacy, and how does this impact my neighbours?

PDR do not automatically consider "rights to light" or privacy issues, which can impact both the property owner and their neighbours. Here’s how these factors play out:

Rights to Light

Rights to light are a legal matter separate from planning permission. They refer to the right to maintain a certain level of illumination within your property, typically through windows that have been in place for 20 years or more. PDR does not override these rights, and neighbours potentially affected by your development under PDR can still assert their rights to light through civil proceedings if they believe your development infringes upon them.


PDR projects must still adhere to certain conditions and limits, particularly regarding their impact on neighbouring properties. For example, windows on side elevations of new upper-floor extensions must be obscure-glazed and non-opening if they are less than 1.7 metres above the floor level to protect the neighbour's privacy. However, PDR does not inherently guarantee that all privacy concerns are addressed, as it mainly focuses on structural limits and positioning rather than direct lines of sight into neighbouring properties.

Impact on Neighbours

While PDR allows for quicker development by reducing bureaucratic oversight, it can lead to conflicts or concerns among neighbours, especially if they feel a new development impacts their light, views, or privacy. Local planning authorities can sometimes remove specific PDR through Article 4 directions if a significant number of issues arise in a particular area, requiring homeowners to seek full planning permission and thus undergo a more rigorous assessment process, including neighbour consultations.

Can changes made under PDR be reversed or modified later?

Yes, changes made under PDR can be reversed or modified later, but this typically requires further planning considerations. Let’s explore more about modifying or reversing developments completed under PDR.

Further Modifications with PDR

Suppose you wish to modify a development previously completed under PDR. In that case, you must ensure that the new modifications also fall within the scope of PDR or seek full planning permission if they exceed PDR limits. Each modification must comply independently with PDR conditions or obtain the necessary approvals.

Reversing Changes of PDR

Reversing changes made under PDR often involves undertaking new construction or alteration, which must either comply with PDR or require planning permission. For instance, if you added an extension under PDR and later decided to demolish it, the demolition and any restoration work would need to be evaluated to determine if they need planning permission.

What happens if I build something that I think is permitted, but the local authority disagrees?

If you build something under the assumption that it is covered by PDR but your local planning authority (LPA) disagrees, several steps and consequences may follow:

Investigation by LPA

The local authority may conduct an investigation to determine if your development complies with PDR or requires planning permission. This usually starts with a site visit and a review of relevant documentation.

Enforcement Notice

If the LPA determines that the development does not comply with PDR and was carried out without the necessary planning permission, they can issue an enforcement notice. This notice typically requires you to revert the property to its former condition or submit a retrospective planning application to try to legalise the unauthorised works.

Retrospective Planning Application

You might have the option to apply for retrospective planning permission. This application seeks to obtain permission after the development has already been completed. However, approval is not guaranteed, and the process can be uncertain and contentious.

Appealing an Enforcement Notice

If you receive an enforcement notice, you can appeal against it to your national planning inspectorate. The appeal must be lodged within a specified period (usually 28 days from the notice issuance). During the appeal process, the enforcement action is put on hold.

Legal and Financial Consequences

Non-compliance with an enforcement notice can lead to legal action and potentially hefty fines. Continuously ignoring planning controls and enforcement actions can result in significant legal costs and other penalties.

Consultation with Planning Experts

If there's a dispute or confusion about whether your development falls under PDR, it's advisable to consult with planning consultants or legal experts. They can provide guidance, help negotiate with the planning authority, or represent you during appeals.

To avoid such situations, it's often wise to seek a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) from the LPA before commencing any work. This certificate provides legal proof that your development is lawful under PDR and does not require planning permission, thus safeguarding against future disputes with the local authority.

How can property developers finance PDR?

The typical routes of financing property development under Permitted Development Rights include cash savings, development finance, bridging loans, joint venture finance, private investors or peer-to-peer lending. The choice of funding will depend on the size and nature of the development, and the borrower’s circumstances.

Development Finance

Specifically designed for larger construction projects, including those under PDR. Development finance typically covers a significant portion of the purchase price and the development costs. Funds are usually released in stages as the project progresses.

Bridging Loans

Useful for short-term funding needs, such as acquiring a property before obtaining development finance or covering initial costs while longer-term finance is secured. Bridging loans are fast to arrange, making them ideal for developers looking to act quickly on a PDR opportunity.

Joint Venture Finance

Partnering with another investor or developer can provide additional capital and share the risk. This is particularly useful if the project is large and requires substantial funding that one party cannot provide alone.

Private Investors or Peer-to-Peer Lending

Attracting private investors or using peer-to-peer lending platforms can offer more flexible terms than traditional banking products. Investors might be interested in the faster planning process associated with PDR projects.

Mezzanine Finance

This type of funding can fill the gap between senior debt and equity. Mezzanine finance is typically used when a developer needs additional funds that exceed what traditional lenders are willing to provide under first-charge terms.

Commercial Mortgages

Suitable for purchasing buildings that will be converted or developed under PDR. Commercial mortgages are secured loans, and the terms can vary based on the project's viability and the developer's financial history.

Final thoughts

Permitted Development Rights offer a streamlined approach to property development by eliminating the need for full planning permission for certain types of building works and changes of use. This flexibility enables property owners to more quickly enhance or repurpose properties, which is particularly advantageous in fast-changing property markets. PDR can greatly simplify development projects, but requires adherence to specific criteria and financing options such as development finance or bridging loans are common funding solutions. 


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