Do I Need Planning Permission to Convert My Loft?

Lofts are one of the most underused spaces in many houses, often being left empty or used just to store rarely needed items. Homeowners interested in making better use of such areas can add not just useful extra room(s), but consequently increase the value and overall desirability of the property. As an increasingly popular home improvement project, there are now a number of companies who specialize in converting lofts into loveable space and they will be happy to go through each project to ensure that it complies with planning restrictions. This guide will help a homeowner understand the general restrictions on converting their loft and cover the feasibility of undertaking such a project.

Roof extensions & designated land

If your home is within an area of designated land you are extremely unlikely to be granted permission to make extensions to the roof. Such areas include properties in national parks & The Broads, Conservation Areas, World Heritage Sites and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. 

Understanding volume limits
There are strict restrictions on the amount of space that can be added during a roof conversion project. This must also include any expansion works previously carried out regardless of who owned the property at the time. Limits are 40 cubic meters for terraced properties and 50 cubic meters for detached/semi-detached. Check housing plans and deeds if unsure that a section has previously been extended or not.

Consider highways
People are not allowed to extend a roof beyond the plane of an existing roof slope when facing a main road.

Materials & uniformity
Planning officers typically will insist that similar if not identical materials are used when making the extension, so as to maintain the character not just of the property but also surrounding streets and buildings. It is advisable to check with local authorities should you intend on extending with a different material or intend to make the project distinctive enough that it is likely to stand out.

Height limits
No extension will be allowed to be higher than the existing level of the top of the roof. This is in order again to maintain uniformity and help ensure structural stability.

Balconies & platforms
These will not be considered to be permitted developments when attached to a usual roof extension. Perhaps consult an expert to see if there is any way that such a balcony, veranda etc can be added to a lower section of the property if it's really desired.

Types of window
This is an important point that quite commonly may slip the mind. Any extension built to the ends of the property needs to either be entirely served by non-opening windows, or ensure that the parts that open the window (handles/locks etc.) are at a minimum of 1.7 meters above the loft floor.

Overhanging windows & distance from eaves
Planning consent will not include provision for any new windows to overhang the existing wall of the property and will insist that there is at least 20cm distance between the eaves and window-frame.

You may be surprised to find bats nesting in the loft, but if their presence is discovered you might find yourself facing a planning headache as they are a protected species. Consent will likely only be given for redevelopment subject to license and provision being made for the creatures.

As we have seen from these points there are plenty of potential issues to be thought through before committing to a loft extension. Employing the service of an experienced specialist can really make all the difference, check out Bespoke Lofts, a London loft conversions company who can provide professional advice for any project.