When Do You Need Loft Conversion Planning Permission?

February 25, 2021

In almost every case concerning a residential property, you will need loft conversion planning permission. This is because adding onto your home can affect the structural integrity of your house. It will also have a visual effect on your neighbourhood, which is why there are certain restrictions in place for loft conversions.

The rules for loft conversions differ between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, so we’ve collected them below to help you understand your local rules better. If you have any questions about the rules in place or need to clarify anything, it’s always better to be safe than sorry and to contact your local Planning Authority.

Keep in mind that any additions or modifications made to your home by previous homeowners will need to conform to your planning permission in order to be approved. Again, it’s better to contact your Planning Authority before drafting final plans for a loft conversion to avoid any troubles or added costs.

We recommend planning out your renovation well ahead of time and going through the appropriate motions before undertaking any work on your building. You could save yourself thousands of pounds in labour and materials by not jumping into a renovation without consulting your Planning Authority.

Disclaimer: By providing this information, we are not offering you legal information. You should consult your local Planning Authority before undertaking any work on your property.

Then once you’ve contacted your local Planning Authority, get your renovation on the go with a local loft renovator!

Planning Permission in England and Wales

Loft Conversion Planning Permission in England and Wales

First off, you will not be able to convert a loft or install dormers in a home on designated land. Most designated land in England exists around cities like London and Manchester to prevent urban sprawl. Designated land includes conservation areas, national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty, or World Heritage Sites. If you live in a listed building, consult your local Planning Authority to learn more about the process of obtaining a planning permission.

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Permitted Development vs Planning Permission

Your loft conversion will be considered a permitted development as long as you conform to standards that have been set out by the government. Loft conversions must not exceed the following allowances in order to be permitted:

  • 40 m³ for terraced houses
  • 50 m³ for detached and semi-detached houses

You may not install an extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation that fronts a highway.

You must use materials that are similar in appearance to the existing house.

The extension must not be higher than the highest point of the existing roof.

You may not install verandas, balconies, or raised platforms in addition to your loft conversion.

Side-facing windows must be obscure glazed and non-opening (save for the following exception). Any opening parts of the windows must be more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which you are installing it.

Roof extensions (other than hip to gable extensions) must be set back at least 20 cm from the original eaves. This distance is measured along the roof plane.

The roof enlargement cannot overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house. To learn more about this requirement, head over to this document (pages 24-26).

When you renovate your loft, you may have to displace bats in your roof. You may require a survey of your home and a licence to remove bats from your attic. If you suspect you may have bats, contact Natural England to learn more.

Planning Permission Cost in England: £172

Planning Permission Cost in Wales: £190

Resource: Fee Calculator – Planning Portal

Planning Permission in Scotland

Loft Conversion Planning Permission in Scotland

In Scotland, you’ll need to get planning permission if your build meets any of the following criteria:

  • you want to build something new
  • you want to make a major change to your building (including an extension)
  • your building is in a conservation area (this may require extra permission)
  • your building is a listed building (this may require extra permission)
  • you want to change the use of your building

These requirements include building a loft extension or converting your attic to livable space.

In terms of specifics, we will look at one city’s local regulations. The regulations your loft conversion needs to conform to will be similar across Scotland, but we will consult The City of Edinburgh for specifics.

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City of Edinburgh Loft Conversion Planning Permission Regulations

According to The City of Edinburgh Council, all dormers on principal elevations (fronts of homes) and all dormers in conservation areas or on listed buildings require planning permission. If you live in a listed building, you will also need to obtain listed building consent.

Below is a diagram of acceptable and non-acceptable dormer extensions in The City of Edinburgh:

Edinburgh Loft Conversion Regulations

If you don’t live in a listed house or in a conservation area, you may be able to install a rear or side dormer without obtaining planning permission. These dormers could be considered “permitted development”, but you should confirm this with your local Planning Authority before commencing work.

The City of Edinburgh recommends appointing an architect for any work involving an extension or renovation, and we agree. You don’t want to risk botching a renovation and having to pay to repair it in a few years. Bidvine makes it easy to find reliable architects, submit a free request here.

Planning Permission Cost in Scotland: £202

Resources: Housing and local services – mygov.scot, Planning guidelines | The City of Edinburgh Council, and Fee Calculator – eplanning.scot

Planning Permission in Northern Ireland

Planning Permission for a Loft Conversion in Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the situations in which you will require planning permission are similar to those in England, Wales, and Scotland. As long as you conform to the regulations set out, you will not need loft conversion planning permission.

Your loft renovation will be considered a permitted development provided that:

  • The roof light, dormer, or extension is lower than the highest part of the existing roof.
  • No part of the roof light, dormer or extension projects by more than 15 centimetres in front of any existing roof slope of the house which faces onto a road and forms the principal or side elevation of the house.
  • No part of the roof light, dormer or roof extension is any closer than 0.5 metres to the roof ridge, eaves or any party wall or verge.
  • The materials used in any exterior work are of similar appearance to those used on the existing house.
  • Any window on a side elevation within 15 metres of a boundary with another house is obscure glazed and is non-opening unless the parts which can be opened are more than 1.7 metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed.
  • Your house is not in a conservation area.

As you can see, the requirements for a permitted development in NI are almost identical to the regulations in place in England and Wales.

If you are unsure about any of the measurements or if the regulations apply to your home, we recommend consulting your local Planning Authority.

Planning Permission Cost in Northern Ireland: £285

Resources: General Advice: When is Planning Permission Required? | Planning Portal, Home owners: Work on the roof

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