Home extensions: Tips to steer you through the planning process

house attic under construction mansard wall insulation with rock wool

Tips from The English Listed on how to navigate the planning process if you are thinking about extending. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thinking about adding a home office or extra bedroom to your home? Steen Bryant, architectural design manager at The English Listed, an architectural design and planning practice in St Ives, offers the following planning process advice.

The pandemic has made us reflect upon our lives and how we want to use, and live in, our homes. With that in mind, it's no surprise extensions are high on many homeowners' agendas as they try to maximise their living spaces. 

Navigating your local council’s planning application process can be a daunting and tricky course however, so the following tips will guide you through it as smoothly as possible.

Do I even need permission to extend?

Visit Planning Portal to find out if you need planning permission and contact your local planning authority for advice on local council policies.

Permitted development (PD) rights mean you can do certain types of building work without planning permission.

However, if you live in a conservation area, national park or area of outstanding natural beauty, or your extension is over a certain size, your PD rights will be limited.  The same is true if your home is one of Britain’s 400,000 listed buildings.

Most Read

Use an architectural design practice that specialises in planning consultancy

High quality design is at the heart of a successful planning application, so it pays to employ a professional who will use their experience to create a well-considered design from the outset, and who has the expertise of local planning policies to submit a robust application for permission.

They can also handle all technical issues that might arise during the planning application process; you may require flood risk assessments, tree surveys, archaeological investigations and any number of technical reviews. 

Heritage homes needs a special approach

If your property is listed or in a conservation area, seek specialist support as these applications require a more detailed approach.  

The English Listed, for example, specialises in period buildings and can maximise the opportunities for your home while retaining its heritage and adhering to applicable regulations. 

Dot the ‘i's 

Provide the council with everything required from the outset to avoid rejections, ensuring that you have paid close attention to drawings with prescribed scales, a north point, site plans and accurately completed forms. 

Highlight sustainability

Councils are really interested in eco credentials that you may be considering, so point out sustainable materials and renewable energy sources in support of your application.

Minimise impact on neighbours

Planners reject projects that will cause unacceptable harm to neighbours’ light, outlook or privacy, but good design will take this into account, and context matters. Also give them a head-up on your plans.

They might not necessarily agree, and you don’t need to include their feedback, but an open line of communication with neighbours before they hear about your application from the council can stave off issues that may arise.

Apply incrementally

If your plans are to extend in several directions, don’t ‘provoke a wholesale refusal’.  You could apply for just the rear extension, and once granted, apply for the same extension, plus the rest. 

The English Listed