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Planning law is complex and we can only give basic informal advice via this website.
Some building works to single dwellings do not need planning permission. This is known as permitted development.
How do I find out if I need planning permission?
Go to the government's Interactive House tool on the Planning Portal website. The 'Do you need permission?' section of their website also contains plenty of help and advice.
In most cases, solar panels on houses do not need planning permission. However there are some restrictions, for example, the panels should not project more than 200mm from the roof or wall.
- Listed Buildings - listed building consent is required if the property is a listed building.
- Conservation Areas - if the property is in a conservation area, planning permission is required if the panels are fitted on the principal or side wall and are visible from the road.
You can find further guidance on solar panels (Planning Portal website).
Still not sure if you need planning permission?
You can apply for an application for a Lawful Development Certificate for your proposed development. We will decide whether the works need planning permission and you will receive a formal notice. Your application needs to be accompanied by:
- scaled drawings which clearly show what work you are intending to do and
- a fee of £86.00
Download the application form, help notes and checklist from the related documents list.
If you are not sure about any of the guidance given then contact us. You can also get independent professional advice before carrying out any building works.
Whether or not your building project needs planning permission you will still need to meet building regulations. For more information and advice go to our building regulations page.
Advice can also be found on the building regulations pages of the Planning Portal website.
Permitted development describes building works that do not need planning permission.
Below is a list of common householder projects. Select each one for a link to the Planning Portal:
- House extension (Planning Portal website)
- Conservatory (Planning Portal website)
- Patio and driveway (Planning Portal website)
- Garage conversion (Planning Portal website)
- Loft conversion (Planning Portal website)
- Windows (Planning Portal website)
- Porch (Planning Portal website)
- Outbuildings (sheds, greenhouses - Planning Portal website)
- Working from home (Planning Portal website)
- Solar panels (Planning Portal website)
Permitted development restrictions
Some permitted development rights may have been restricted or taken away. This would be by conditions attached to the original planning permission. This may be to safeguard the appearance of an area or protect neighbours from extensions where there is limited garden space.
To find out if your house has had its permitted development rights removed (if your house was built after 1960) please email us.
Flats and maisonettes
Residential permitted development rights only apply to houses and not:
- maisonettes or
- "houses" above basement flats.
If you live in a flat or maisonette it is likely that planning permission will be needed for any external extension or alteration.
Listed buildings and conservation areas
Some of Bristol's older houses have statutory protection as listed buildings and a number of local areas have been designated as conservation areas because of their special character and appearance.
Tighter planning controls apply to both listed buildings and houses in conservation areas (Planning Portal website).
How do I find out if my property is a listed building or in a conservation area?
- Go to the English Heritage website's Listed Buildings Online.
- Go to our Know Your Place pages.
- Go to our Planning Online application,
- Enter your postcode in the "Postcode" box and select "Search".
- Find and select your address.
- Once your property details are displayed, select the "Constraints" tab.
- If your property is in a conservation area, this will be displayed underneath the heading "Constraint Type".
Change of use
If you want to change the use of a building or land, you may need planning permission. There are developments which are "permitted"' and some which need permission.
Planning permission is not usually needed when both the existing and proposed new uses fall within the same "use class". It is also possible to change uses between some classes without making an application.
For more information, see Change of use (Planning Portal website)
Most alterations to business premises do need planning permission, including:
- All shop and office extensions.
- Alterations to shop fronts.
- External security shutters or grilles.
The following guides have been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government:
- Planning permission: A guide for business - www.communities.gov.uk
- Outdoor advertisements and signs: A guide for advertisers - www.communities.gov.uk
- Planning and access for disabled people: A good practice guide - www.communities.gov.uk
Pages in the section
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