New permitted development rights have recently been announced in England as part of the UK Government’s plans to reform the planning system and fast track the development of new homes.

The updates that will be of most interest to landowners include new rights to ‘build up’ on existing buildings; and to demolish and replace an office or workshop building with a new dwelling. These new rights could provide a fast track method of gaining planning approval from the local planning authority.

Building Up

Extend existing buildings upwards

Extend existing buildings upwards

From 31st August, permitted development rights will allow property owners to extend existing buildings upwards, subject to meeting a set of criteria. These rights could allow the construction of up to two additional storeys on multi-level dwellings, or one additional storey on a single storey dwelling.

In an attempt to avoid inappropriate development, a large number of conditions and restrictions are attached to these rights to which all new proposals will need to comply. These include restrictions on height, design, and materials, and the location of the development. For example, if your property is a listed building or within a National Park, Conservation Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, these rights would not apply.

The construction of up to two additional storeys above an existing commercial building could also be possible, provided that that the new dwellings are flats. Commercial buildings include shops, restaurants and offices.

It is important to note that Prior Approval must be obtained from the local authority before starting any work. This would require a set of plans and details confirming that the proposal aligns with permitted development criteria and therefore would not require planning permission.

Demolition and replacement of office or workshop buildings

From 31st August, permitted development rights will also allow for the demolition of an office or workshop building (Use Class B1) and its replacement with a new dwelling or a block of flats.

In principle this could allow for the construction of a new residential dwelling standing at an additional two storeys higher than the existing building, provided that it falls entirely within the original footprint at no more than 1000 square metres in area.

The permitted development regulations include various conditions and requirements which will need to be considered before starting any work. The existing building must have been built before 31st December 1989, be structural sound and have been vacant for at least 6 months. It also cannot be located within a National Park, Conservation Area, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Site of Special Scientific Interest, or within the curtilage of a Listed Building or Scheduled Monument.

Demolition and replacement of office or workshop buildings

Demolition and replacement of office or workshop buildings

There are also various other criteria which must be adhered to.

Most importantly, landowners will be required to submit an application for Prior Approval to the local planning authority to confirm that the proposal falls under permitted development. As part of this process, the proposal will be assessed against a number of considerations including design, amenity, contamination risk, flood risk and landscaping (among others).

These considerations are similar to that of a full planning application, however under permitted development rights the principle of the new dwelling will already be accepted if the necessary criteria are met. This could open up opportunities for those with underutilised buildings outside of built up areas where planning policy would generally resist new residential development.

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Permitted development rights are subject to a series of conditions and restrictions so it will be important to determine whether your proposal is compliant.

If you would like to speak with us about the planning potential for your land, please give us a call at our Pulborough (01798 877555) or Tunbridge Wells office (01892 509280) and ask to speak to a member of the planning team. Alternatively, you can send us an email via


Hannah McLaughlin, Planner


Our clients will always receive a truly bespoke service provided by a dedicated and highly experienced Partner-led team. Our services include Estate Agency, Equestrian and Rural Agency, Lettings, Estate Management, Valuations, Planning and Telecommunications. Offices in Battle, Haywards Heath, Pulborough and Tunbridge Wells.