Planning permission and permitted development explained | Landmark Lofts

Planning Permission and Permitted Development for loft conversions

A loft conversion is a great way of adding extra room to your property. If you're considering converting your loft, you should be aware that certain alterations need planning permission, although many conversions fall within the permitted development rights. 

What is Planning Permission? 

Almost all loft conversions in London will require some form of Planning Permission before the homeowners are allowed to alter their properties. This is controlled by the Local Authority and an application will need to be made to them. A loft conversion is regarded as a considerable alteration and in some cases completely changes the structure of the roof, so Planning Permission is a necessary document. The Planning Portal states that most new buildings, major alterations to existing buildings, significant changes to the use of a building or a piece of land all need this permission.

What is Permitted Development?

For some loft conversions, such as a Velux loft conversion, Planning Permission is not necessary and can be done under Permitted Development. This is because the works are regarded as minor alterations and the effect these building works have on neighbours is minimal. If there is any concern regarding whether your loft conversion can be completed under Permitted Development then it is advisable that your architect applies for a Certificate of Lawful Development (COL). If you wish to sell your property in the future, the COL document is proof that your loft conversion was built lawfully.

The application process for your loft conversion

At Landmark Lofts, our chartered architects have an extensive knowledge of your local council’s planning departments. We work with you to provide plans for your loft conversion which adhere to guidelines. We will apply for Planning Permission or COL on your behalf and liaise with the Local Authority to ensure a smooth process. An application for your loft conversion will be made to your council and you will be responsible for paying the fee directly to your Local Authority.  (We offer our clients the option to sign an indemnity letter for their loft conversion- the letter states that a client is happy to begin works before Planning Permission or COL has been granted and will proceed at their own risk.) Once the fees have been received, your application can be validated and a decision date will be given. The validation letter will be available to view online.

Planning applications are in the public interest and so are the details of your loft conversion application. The plans, address and description of the proposed works will all be displayed on the council’s website. Your neighbours are allowed to comment on your application if they feel that it may not be appropriate, for example, the loss of privacy or that there are no other loft conversions in the area and it would not be in keeping with the residence.The validation letter will reveal the expected decision date with a timeframe of about 8 weeks, and in this time, your application will be sent to a case officer for reviewing. Sometimes the case officer may feel an inspection of your property is required and will contact you if access is needed.

We have no control over the planning decisions for your loft conversion and sometimes the decision can overrun by a number of weeks. Project Management is our speciality at Landmark Lofts and we will help and advise you at every step, from planning to completion.

What do you do if your Planning or COL is refused?

If your planning application for your loft conversion is refused then this doesn’t mean that your project is over. Our chartered architects can revise your loft conversion plans to comply with the case officer’s comments. There are two options if your Planning Permission or Certificate of Lawful Development is refused:

  • Resubmit your application: The Local Authority will not charge for this service if the plans submitted have been revised. This is often referred to as a new scheme and is often the best solution for our client’s loft conversion.
  • Appeal: If you choose to appeal against the decision, your proposed loft conversion will be sent to the planning inspectorate who will review your case. They will ask for comments from both the Local Authority and the Agent (this is Landmark Lofts) and will reach a conclusion drawing information from both sides.

There are other factors than can contribute to the outcome of your Planning application such as the presence of whether your property is Freehold or Leasehold. More information can be found on the Planning Portal website.

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