General Guidance on Householder Planning

Please note that the information given below is a guide only and does not present the full legal and government guidelines for each of the situations described. If you require a formal determination about the need for planning permission for the proposed development, you will need to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. For more information, please see the Cambridge City webpage or the South Cambridgeshire webpage.

We reference the Planning Portal below - this is not owned by South Cambridgeshire or Cambridge City Councils but was created by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and is used by every local authority in England and Wales to submit planning applications, as well as containing a wealth of information related to planning and the planning process.

This indicates that planning permission is not typically required.  Note that certain criteria will often need to be met for the work to be considered permitted development – if your planned work does not meet these criteria then it does not fall under permitted development and planning permission will be required.

You are strongly advised to read a technical guidance document produced by the Government to help understand how permitted development rules might apply to your circumstances.

This means the edge of the area of enclosed space surrounding the house. For example, a wall or fence between houses or gardens, or the wall of an adjoining building.

Please note that this is not a legal definition and a determination as to what constitutes the boundary may be made by Cambridge City or South Cambridgeshire council.

You may also see the term ‘curtilage’ used on the Planning Portal instead of ‘boundary’.

Under common law a highway is defined as 'a way over which there exists a public right of passage'.  A highway can be a road or a footpath. It does not have to be a drivable route.

Essentially there are 3 types of highway:

  • A road or footpath maintainable at the public expense – referred to as 'adopted'
  • A road or footpath maintainable at private expense – referred to as 'unadopted'
  • A private street/footway or footpath

The first 2 are the same with the difference being as to who maintains it. A private road is considered a highway unless it is truly a private piece of land owned by one or more parties. More often these ‘private’ roads are simply unadopted roads.

To check if your house falls within a conservation area or any other site constraints, please use our database. Select the ‘Property’ tab to carry out a search. If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, this will be indicated under the ‘Constraints’ tab.

Alternatively, you can use our mapping tool.

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to our Conservation area page for more information. 

The installation of solar panels is usually permitted development provided it complies with the following criteria:

  • the solar panels do not protrude more than 0.2 metres beyond the plane of the wall or roof slope or exceed the highest part of the roof (excluding the chimney)

a diagram demonstrating where solar panels should be placed on a building

  • Solar panels should as far as possible be sited to minimise its effect on the external appearance of the building and the amenity of the area. They should be removed as soon as reasonably practicable when no longer needed.

Please also see the section related to solar panels on the Planning Portal.

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Changes to external windows and doors would not need planning permission provided they are of similar appearance. This is a subjective term, but unfortunately current government planning guidelines do not provide any further detail. Our guidance is as follows.

Changes that do not require planning permission:

  • Windows which are identical, like-for-like in terms of pattern, frame width, profile, and material.

Changes that do require planning permission:

  • Different glazing patterns
  • Changes in the size of windows
  • If replacement windows and doors will be made of a different material to the existing windows (for instance replacing a timber window with an aluminium window)
  • Changes in appearance caused by, for example, replacing a sash window with a casement window
  • Adding a bay window (this is considered an extension to the property)
  • The building is not a flat

Any upper-floor window located in a wall or roof slope forming a side elevation of the

house must be:

(i) obscure-glazed, and

(ii) non-opening unless the parts of the window which can be opened are more than 1.7

metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Adding a porch to any external door of your house is permitted development, not requiring an application for planning permission, provided:

  • the ground floor area (measured externally) would not exceed three square metres.
  • no part would be more than three metres above ground level (height needs to be measured in the same way as for a house extension).
  • no part of the porch would be within two metres of any boundary of the property or the highway.
  • the building is not a flat

Please refer to the information and miniguide on the Planning Portal.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

Please refer to the information and miniguide on the Planning Portal.

If extensions fall outside of the criteria stated in the link above, then planning permission is required.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

Please refer to the information and miniguide on the Planning Portal. Section 5 specifically relates to dormer windows.

Please note that if the building is a flat then planning permission is required.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Loft conversions which do not include any extension to the existing roof, just internal conversion, do not require planning permission. If the conversion includes rooflights please see the section in this FAQ under Rooflights.

Please do note that this will need a Building Regulations application. To find out how to submit this, please use these links:

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

 

Please refer to the information and miniguide on the Planning Portal.

The rooflight should not protrude more than 0.15m beyond the plane of the original roof slope and should not be higher than the highest part of the original roof. 

If the rooflight is located on a roof slope forming the side elevation, it must be…

(i) obscure-glazed, and

(ii) non-opening unless the parts of the window which can be opened are more than 1.7

metres above the floor of the room in which the window is installed

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

Dropped kerbs can be developed without the need for planning permission provided the road is categorised as ‘unclassified’.

To check the status of your road please use the dropped kerb page on the Cambridgeshire County Council website.

In all cases you will need to obtain consent from the Cambridgeshire County Council to proceed (the link above contains the application form).

If your road is classified A, B or C on the mapping system accessed via the link above, once you have obtained consent from Cambridgeshire County Council you must apply for planning permission.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

If the paving will cover more than 5 square metres you will not need planning permission if the hard surface is porous, or if it is arranged so that water runs off the surface into an area where it can soak away into the ground within the boundary of the property. If a proposed hard standing area is not porous, and the water will run off that surface on to the highway, or into the public surface water drains, then planning permission is required for the proposed paving. If this is in conjunction with a dropped kerb, planning permission would also be required for the dropped kerb.

Please note that a standard car parking space should measure 2.5 metres x 5 metres.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Outbuildings are considered permitted development, subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation.
  • Outbuildings and garages to be single storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
  • Maximum height of 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure, or container within 2 metres of a boundary of a property.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms (a platform may be erected up to 0.3 metres in height without planning permission).
  • No more than half the area of land around the original house would be covered by additions or other buildings (the term ‘original house’ means the house as it stood when first built. If the house was built before 1st July 1948, the term means as the house stood on the 1st July 1948).

It is important to note that if the building can enable separate occupation (for example, a granny annex), this will not fall under permitted development and planning permission will be required.

If the building is a flat, then planning permission will be required.

Please also refer to the information and miniguide on the Planning Portal.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Rendering the external walls of a building would not require planning permission if the materials used in any exterior work are of similar appearance to those used in the construction of the exterior of the existing building.

If the materials to be used are not of a similar appearance, then planning permission is required.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

In many cases you can install these up to a specific size without the need for planning permission. This general permission depends on your house type and area however. Flats can install an antenna or dish, but the limitations refer to the building as a whole and not each separate flat.

Please see the information on the Planning Portal.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

You do not need planning permission if your proposal is to take down a fence, wall or gate. If you wish to alter, maintain or improve an existing fence, wall or gate and will not be increasing its height then again, no planning permission is required.

If you want to put up a new boundary wall, fence, railings or gate next to a highway and the height will be more than one metre you will need planning permission. If the boundary is not next to a highway but the fence, wall or gate is over two metres high you will also need planning permission.

Please note that a dispute over the location or position of a boundary is not a planning issue but a civil or legal matter.  We cannot advise on the correct course of action, but our general recommendation is to discuss with your neighbour first to see if an amicable solution can be reached, and then seek legal advice if it cannot.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

 

You can change the use of a single dwelling (falling within C3 use) into a small HMO (C4 use) without the need for planning permission provided it meets the below criteria:

  • Occupied by between 3- 6 unrelated individuals where there are shared basic amenities such as a kitchen
  • Does not change the use of two or more separate dwellings (C3 use) into one single HMO

For information on house classes (e.g., C3, C4), see the Planning Portal.

Please note that you will need an HMO licence – use the links below for more information:

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Planning permission is not usually required. The following criteria need to be met however:

  • the work is internal only
  • the garage will not be enlarged
  • if a garage door needs to be replaced by a window the window must be of similar appearance and finish to those already used on the house and is flush with the wall (for example, not a bay window).

Any further work beyond that stated above would need planning permission. If your intention is to convert a garage into a separate living accommodation (for example, a granny annex), then planning permission will be required.

 

Note that on some developments use of garages as additional living accommodation is restricted by conditions on previous planning permissions. You can check previous planning permissions on your property via our database.

 

If your property is in a conservation area or is a listed building, please do not use this FAQ and instead refer to the Historic Environment webpage for more information.

Please note that the information given above is a guide only and does not present the full legal and government guidelines for each of the situations described. If you require a formal determination about the need for planning permission for the proposed development, you will need to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate. For more information, please see the Cambridge City webpage or the South Cambridgeshire webpage.

Reminder: You are strongly advised to read a technical guidance document produced by the Government to help understand how permitted development rules might apply to your circumstances.

 

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