Residential planning

Find out when you need planning permission for changes to a residential building.

When you need it

You'll probably need planning permission if you want to:

  • build something new
  • make a major change to your building, such as building an extension
  • change the use of your building
     

When you do not need it

Some building projects do not need planning permission. This is known as 'permitted development rights'.

There are other projects that might not need planning permission - for example, projects that will have no impact on your neighbours or the environment.
 

Certificate of Lawfulness

If you would like a legal determination confirming that the work you are proposing does not require planning permission you can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness through the Planning Portal.

You can also apply directly to us using our planning application forms.
 

Help and guidance

Once you have an idea of what changes you wish to make to your property you can use our guides and examples of common building projects to help you find out if you need to apply for planning permission.

Chimneys, flues, soil and vent pipes

If you live in a conservation area you will also need to apply for permission if the proposal would be installed on a wall or roof slope that fronts a highway and is either the principal or a side elevation of the house.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for chimneys, flue, soil and vent pipes (PDF) [336KB]

Cladding

If you live in a conservation area, you will need to apply for planning permission before cladding the outside of your house with stone, tiles, artificial stone, plastic, timber, render or pebble dash.

Outside of a conservation area planning permission will be required if the materials used in any exterior work are not of a similar appearance to those used in the construction of the exterior of the existing dwelling house.

Driveways

There are controls over hard surfaces such as driveways, aimed at reducing water run-off which contributes to flooding.  Planning permission will generally be required for the impermeable surfacing of front gardens of areas that are more than 5 square metres.

You can find guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens on GOV.UK.

Dropped kerbs and crossovers

Planning permission will not be required for a dropped kerb if the 2 criteria are met:

1. The access point is not onto an A, B or C classified road; 
2. and the access is required in connection with other development that does not require permission (e.g. a residential driveway that is being constructed at the same time).

If you are unsure whether the road where you are proposing the dropped kerb is an A, B or C classified road then you should contact Essex Highways.

Irrespective of whether you require planning permission for a dropped kerb, consent will always be required from Essex County Council as the Highway Authority for a drop kerb or pavement/verge crossing.

An application will need to be made to Essex County Council for a licence to construct the vehicle access.

The contractor undertaking the works must have public liability insurance to a minimum cover of £5 million and is accredited under the New Road and Streetworks Act 1991 to work within the public highway.

How to apply for a new or extend a vehicle crossing or dropped kerb on Essex Highways website.

Fences, walls and gates

You will need to apply for planning permission if:

• the fence, wall or gate  would be over 1 metre high and next to a highway used by vehicles; or over 2 metres high elsewhere
• your house is a listed building or is in the curtilage of a listed building
• you are demolishing or removing a fence situated in a conservation area

You will not need to apply for planning permission to take down a fence, wall, or gate, or to alter or improve an existing fence, wall or gate (no matter how high) if you don't increase its height. In a conservation area you will need 'planning permission for relevant demolition in a conservation area' (also commonly known as 'conservation area consent') to take down a fence, wall or gate.

Internal alterations

Internal alterations do not require planning permission as they are not classed as development.

You may need to apply for Building Regulations approval. Listed building consent will be required if your property is listed.  

Maintenance

You do not need to apply for planning permission for repairs or maintenance, including minor improvements, such as painting your house or replacing windows.   You also do not need permission to re-roof your house, however additions to the roof are treated as extensions.

Extending and altering the roof

Do I need planning permission for my dormer window or roof extension? If you answer "yes" you will require planning permission.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for dormer windows and roof extensions (PDF) [264KB]

Extensions and additions

Do I need planning permission for my house extension? If you answer "yes" you will require planning permission.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for house extensions (PDF) [333KB]

Outbuilding and structures

Do I need planning permission for my outbuilding? If you answer "yes" you will require planning permission.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for outbuildings (PDF) [335KB]

Porches

Do I need planning permission for my porch, hard surface, chimney, flue or soil and vent pipe? If you answer "yes" you will require planning permission.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for porches (PDF) [336KB]

Renewable energy microgeneration equipment

Are you planning to install ground source heat pumps, water source heat pumps and flues for biomass heating systems or combined heat and power systems? If you answer "yes" you can check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for renewable energy microgeneration equipment (PDF) [311KB]

Satellite dishes

Normal domestic TV and radio aerials do not need planning permission. In certain circumstances such as in a conservation area, you will need to apply for planning permission to install a satellite dish or antenna on your house.

Check what you need to do by using our aelf-assessment form for satellite dishes (PDF) [314KB]

Solar panels

Do I need planning permission for my solar energy microgeneration equipment? If you answer "yes" (to any question) you will require planning permission.

Check what you need to do by using our self-assessment form for solar energy microgeneration equipment (PDF) [317KB]

Windows

If the window projects beyond an existing wall (such as a bay window), this is treated as an extension and is subject to the same restrictions as Extensions and Additions.  If the window you want to insert is an upper-floor window in the side elevation of the house then it must be obscure glazed and non-opening (unless the opening parts of the window are more than 1.7 metres above floor level).

Working from home

You do not necessarily need planning permission to work from home. The key test is whether the overall character of the property will change as a result of the business.

Will:

• your home no longer be used mainly as a private residence?
• your business result in a marked rise in traffic or people calling?
• your business involve any activities unusual in a residential area?
• your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?
• you need to extend your house specifically to accommodate the new business?

If the answer to any of these questions is "yes", then you will probably require planning permission.

 

Applying for planning permission

You can apply for planning permission through the Planning Portal or you can apply directly to us using our planning application forms.

If you build something which needs planning permission without obtaining permission first, you may be served an 'enforcement notice' ordering you to undo all the changes you have made.

It is illegal to ignore an enforcement notice, but you can appeal against it.

 

Useful links