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What are permitted development rights?

This article aims to shed light on the introduction of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) which were implemented to allow for certain forms of development to occur.

Published on
December 6, 2021


Development in the UK is generally regulated through planning applications. Planning decisions are supposed to be issued within 8 weeks, or 13 weeks for more complex applications. As such, the process can be time-consuming. This article aims to shed light on the introduction of Permitted Development Rights (PDR) which were implemented to allow for certain forms of development to occur without the need for full planning permission. 

Permitted Development Rights

PDRs were introduced by the National Government. While  PDRs have existed in some form since 1948, it is only recently under the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order (GDPO) 2015[2]where significant changes have been implemented annually. 

Permitted development rights were introduced to help simplify the planning process. Applicants need only apply for "Prior approval” to a Local Planning Authority (LPA) to make any changes. Due to PDRs, LPAs can only take into account a limited variety of concerns. Issues such as the principle of the conversion, design or other planning obligations are out of the picture.  

Common types of Permitted Development Rights

Some common permitted development rights include[3]:

·       Interior remodelling 

·       Installation and modifications of chimneys, antenna, satellite dishes, CCTV

·       Erection of gates, fences, walls and other enclosures (no more than 2 m high)

·       Provision of certain hard surfaces and means of access to a highway

·       Exterior painting (other than advertisements)

·       Temporary structures and plant for construction purposes

·       Temporary structures remaining for no more than 28 days

·       Building operations consisting of the demolition of a building 


With an easier route for ‘prior approval’ for certain projects, homeowners, landowners and developers have greater freedom. Nonetheless, certain restrictions will still apply, these include:

·       Listed buildings

·       Conservation Areas

·       National Parks

·       Areas of outstanding natural beauty

·       Article 4 Direction (see below) 

Article 4 Direction 

While Permitted Development rights are in place nationally, LPAs can issue an ‘Article 4’ direction. These are usually restricted to certain areas such as commercial and industrial hubs or conservation areas where the Local Authority wants to preserve the existing character and employment uses of the area. 

When an ‘Article 4’ direction is invoked, planning permission will be needed to carry out work that is usually not needed in other areas. Because these are seldom publicised widely, one needs to do thorough research on whether one exists in your local neighbourhood.

Recent Amendments 

Since 2013, much of the PDR changes deal with the conversion of Office, Retail and Industrial to Residential uses. These changes are part of the government’s attempt to deliver more housing in England. It is estimated that 15,000 additional dwellings have been delivered annually.

Class O Offices to Residential

  • No size limit

Class M Retail, takeaway or specified sui generis to Residential

  • Up to 150 sqm

Class PA Premises in light industrial use to residential

  • Up to 500 sqm

Class MA (From August 2021)

Class E (High Street uses) to Residential 

  • Up to 1500 sqm

While PDRs seem to bring simplicity and much-needed streamlining to the planning process, there are many concerns surrounding the impacts of PDRs on the potential loss of industrial land, loss of planning obligations (such as affordable housing) and income for LPAs. This will be explored in another article. 

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