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What is Prior Approval, Prior Approval Mechanism Explained for larger home extensions?

Thinking of adding more space to your kitchen or extending your living room with a single-storey rear extension but you don’t know how deep you can build? 

Prior approval larger home extension may be the best option for your dream space. Under this scheme, you will be able to build a single-storey rear extension extending beyond the rear of the original house more than 3 metres no more than 6 metres your semi-detached or terraced dwelling house or more than 4 metres no more than 8 metres your detached dwelling house. 

In this article we will explain; whether you are eligible for this scheme, how you can extend your house, possible results and the rules you need to follow. 

Let’s dive into it…

What Is Prior Approval? 

Prior Approval; commonly known as Permitted Development Rights for larger home extensions is a set of rules by the Government (under Permitted Development Rights-Class A) that gives a chance to homeowners to build a single-storey rear extension more than 3 metres no more than 6 metres for semi-detached and terraced dwelling houses and more than 4 metres no more than 8 metres for detached dwelling houses subject to neighbour consultation scheme. 

The neighbour consultation prior approval scheme requires a 21-day period where the immediate neighbours of the property in question will be able to comment with valid reasoning as to why the extension must not be built. After the consultation period, the Local Planning Authority will have a further 21-days to determine the application.

Permitted Development Rights are the rights given to homeowners to do certain types of works without seeking planning permission. Although the Prior Approval scheme falls under Permitted Development Rights, you have to seek prior approval consent from your Local Planning Authority before commencing the construction of your larger home extension. Prior approval consents cannot be applied retrospectively. If you have already built your larger home extension more than 3 metres less than 6 metres for your terraced or semi-detached house or more than 4 metres less than 8 metres for your detached house, you may need to seek retrospective planning permission. Bear in mind; your retrospective planning permission will be assessed under Local Planning Authority policies and these policies may be stricter than Government`s Permitted Development Rights. 

What are the eligibility criteria for the Prior Approval scheme? 

The property won’t be able to favour from the Prior Approval scheme if the existing house complies with the below requirements;

  • If your property is in a National Park, the Broads, an area of outstanding natural beauty, an area designated as a conservation area, and land within World Heritage Sites,
  • If your property is a flat or maisonette, not a dwelling house,
  • If your property is a Listed Building.

If your property is one of the above you will need to seek a householder or full planning application for your house extension. 

What are the requirements for my house to meet for the larger home extension?

Under Permitted development rights for householders Technical Guidance which came into force on 15 April 2015 and became permanent May 2019, you will have to meet certain criteria to be able to build a single-storey larger home extension under the Prior Approval Scheme. These criteria are; 

  • The Extension should be from the original rear wall of the original house (as it was built on 1 July 1948). (Any extension built after 1948 cannot be an original rear wall- 
  • The extension must not exceed %50 of the land around the original house (as it was built on 1 July 1948).
  • Extension should be a single-storey.
  • The extension maximum height cannot be more than 4 metres at ridge level.
  • Extension cannot be more than 3 metres at eaves level if the extension is being built within 2 metres of a boundary line (Parapet walls included). 
  • Extension materials used for construction should be similar to the existing house. (Similar brick, similar tiles, etc)

How can I apply for Prior Approval, how much is the Council fee and how long does it take?

The submission of your application should be completed through the Planning Portal. To validate your application the Council will require the following;

  • You will need to answer a set of questions the planning portal requires you to answer. Such as; description of the proposed work, the maximum height of the roof, eaves height within 2 m of the boundary line, materials, etc.
  • Block plan of your property 
  • Preferably, a full set of architectural drawings which shows your existing and proposed extension with measurements and information about the materials
  • Title Number of your property 
  • Full addresses of the immediate neighbouring properties at front, side and rear
  • Gross Internal Area added by the development
  • Approximate dates for the construction commencement and completion
  • £96 +VAT council fee for assessment of your application. 

Your Local Planning Authority will have 5-10 business days to validate your application. Any missing document or payment will be required from the Local Planning Authority if necessary. Upon validation, your application will be visible on Council’s Planning system and you will be able to see your application on the Council’s Planning page. 

With the validation of your application, 21 days consultation period will start and the allocated planning officer for your case will notify your immediate neighbours to seek their opinion on your proposal. They will be able to comment and object to your application with valid reasoning. After the neighbour consultation period, the officer will have further 21 days to decide on your application. 

What if my neighbours object to my Prior Approval Application?

If your prior approval application receives objections from the neighbours, the officer will assess the objections within Permitted Development Rights Class A restrictions.

If they have valid reasons, your application may be refused or the officer may require revisions from your architect/designer/consultant. General objection reasons are;

  • Impact on the amenity space of the neighbouring properties
  • Daylight-sunlight concerns
  • Construction concerns

For the above reasons; we would always advise meeting your immediate neighbours and discussing your possible extension before the preparation of your application. If they have any concerns regarding the depth of your extension, the depth of the extension can be shortened to 4m-5m.

What if my application receives a refusal?

If you believe the Council assessment was not within Permitted Development Rights Class A, you can still chase up your case with an appeal process. Bear in mind, an appeal process is a lengthy process that takes up to 6 months. 

In appeal process; an independent inspectorate will be assigned your case and assess the application similar to the planning officer. 

Alternatively, you may discuss with your neighbours and submit another application for shorter prior approval larger home extension more than 3 metres and less than 6 metres. 

When can I start the construction after receiving my Approval/Prior approval not required letter?

Upon the approval of your Prior Approval Application, you will then will be required to go ahead with a second stage which is called a Building Regulation Stage. The Building Regulation stage is a compulsory stage where you need to demonstrate the structural design of your extension complies with Building Regulation Standards. 

How can EP help you with your Prior Approval Application?

Express Planning can guide you from start to finish for your Prior Approval application. Our general services for a prior approval process includes;

• On-site meeting with yourself and discussion about possible layout
• Carrying out a measured site survey with a laser meter
• Creating existing layouts
• Creating concept & proposed design and layout plans
• Includes three rounds of online design revisions
• Preparing 3D Visuals (Internal-External)
• Submitting, managing and monitoring your application
• Liaising with your Local Planning Authority on your behalf until the decision (6 weeks – Free of Charge)

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Loft Conversion types and ideas of 2021 – An extra bedroom vs an Office Space during Covid-19 Era

Loft Conversions are great additions to add space and value to your houses. Whether, your family is growing and you need an extra space or would like to sell your property and add value or stay home and would like to work from home because of Covid-19. We will explain you the best possible type of loft conversion for your house and you decide the function of the space.

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From Conception To Completion: Journey of a Succesfull Extension Project with Express Planning

Every construction project starts its journey with a concept. Whether extending your home to bring more light or adding more space, in long-term even a small extension can add value to your house and provide the space you always dreamed of. Here’s what you need to know about the process from conception to the completion.

Basically, there will be 5 stages for you to start and complete your project.

STAGE 1 | FEASIBILITY STUDY (Free of Charge | 1-3 days) 

Express Planning starts any project with a feasibility study. Our feasibility studies will give you a clear indication of the direction you should follow, what is achievable with your projects and the risks you may encounter before embarking on your journey with your project.

At this stage, Express Planning will examine your current neighbourhood, whether your property is located in a conservation area or a listed building, previous similar applications in the vicinity, what is achievable with your project and the best possible route for the planning process.


For any extension, you will need to produce concept design drawings. Whether you are making a structural change or alteration to the current layout of your home, it would be good for you to appoint a professional who has the knowledge about the full process. EP offers a varied range of services for a different type of extensions. Our fees for extension projects starts from £1300.

a) Full Planning Planning Application| Householder Planning Application (£206)

If your property is located in a Conservation Area or a Listed Building, it is mandatory for you to apply for planning permission for any type of extensions. You will need to apply for full planning permission or householder planning permission.

EP will monitor your application and liaise with the Council on your behalf. If the Council requires any additional information or drawings EP will prepare them free of charge for planning applications.

b) Lawful Development Certificate Application (£103)

If your property is not in a conservation area nor a listed building and you would like to exercise Permitted Development Rights, we would always recommend submitting a Lawful Development Certificate application.

Although you can build your extension within the Permitted Development Rights (compliance with legislation is mandatory) without seeking approval from the Local Authority, you will be required to obtain Building Control Approval from your Local Building Control Authority or a private Building Control company. In order to obtain necessary approval, you will be required to submit the necessary drawings. Also, most likely you will need drawings for your builders/contractors to quote you for the job. If you are preparing the drawings and seeking professionals help, why not obtain the Lawful Development Certificate approval from your Local Planning Authority too.

In addition, when you want to sell your house a Lawful Development Certificate will add value to your house because the extension you built is a lawful development and important consents have been obtained.

EP will monitor your application and liaise with the Council on your behalf. If the Council requires any additional information or drawings EP will prepare them free of charge for Lawful Development Certificate applications.

c) Prior Approval Householder Application (£96)

If your property is not in a conservation area nor a listed building and you would like to extend your house more than 3 meters ( less than 6 m for terraced and semi-detached – less than 8 m for detached) you will be required to submit a prior approval application to your Local Planning Authority. Prior Approval applications are subject to 21 days of neighbouring consultation. The Council will inform your immediate neighbours and seek their opinions on your proposal. If they have any valid planning objection, they will be able to make a comment on your proposal.

EP will monitor your application and liaise with the Council on your behalf. If the Council requires any additional information or drawings EP will prepare them free of charge for prior approval applications.


After obtaining necessary Planning/Lawful development/Prior Approval consent, you will be liable to submit your Building Regulation drawings either to your Local Planning Authority or a private building Control Body. Building Regulations are the standards which you have to follow for safe, secure and accessible buildings.

Keep in mind if you have any condition attached to your planning consent, you may need to submit additional discharge of conditions application. You will have to read and analyse your decision notice after obtaining planning permission.

Express Planning will guide the process and will work with your structural engineer to produce necessary building regulation drawings/documents/details. We will receive quotes from trusted structural engineers for you to appoint and work alongside us. The structural engineer will prepare the necessary structural calculations and structural drawings. EP will prepare other necessary drawings;- Demolition Layouts- Proposed Layouts- Measurement Layouts- Fire Safety Layouts- Drainage Layouts- Electrical Layouts- Window and Door Schedules

a) Party Wall Agreement

At this stage, you will have a duty to serve a Party Structure Notice on any adjoining owner under Party Wall Act 19996. Party Wall Agreement is the document you will liable to complete; if you are building any foundation within 3 m of your boundary or working on the Party Wall. It would mandatory to appoint the Party Wall Surveyor after receiving your consent for the planning/lawful development/prior approval.  

b) Build-over application

If there is a manhole in the place you would like to build your extension, you will have to remove the location of the manhole to another location. You cannot build your extension on the existing manhole, thus you may be required to submit a build-over application depending on your manhole pipe size. In London, many households have 160 mm (diameter) pipes and changing the location can be done under the self-certification scheme free of charge on Thames Water Website. It would be good to check the existing manhole before starting the construction. If the manhole pipes are bigger than 160 mm


Upon the completion of Building Regulation drawings, you can either submit them to your Local Planning Authority or a private building Control Body. After their assessment, your builder can inform them of the start of the construction. Building Control will make a time schedule to visit your site at important stages and check your builders/contractors work and give advice if needed.


All of the previous stages will be mandatory for you to start your project and manage your own construction, however, Express Planning can help you throughout the construction process as well as planning and building regulation process.

Under our Tender Drawings and Construction Monitoring Service, we can help you with interior design, selection of materials/fixtures/products, obtain quotes from the builders and most importantly administrate your contract and monitor your construction to make sure everything is being completed as we have decided at Tender Stage

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