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Conservatories, Sun lounges, Porches - Planning Permission and Building Regulations

Legislation from October 2008

New Legislation

Click for an enlarged viewOctober 1 saw planning rules for potential conservatory owners take a positive step forward.

New Government rules state that a conservatory added to your home could be considered to be permitted development - in other words planning permission is not needed.

That means no lengthy delays before the building work can start - and no fees to pay!

The new legislation has the potential to lessen planning applications for extensions, including conservatories, on 80,000 homes over the next year.

Click for an enlarged viewBut...

There is a guide list to follow to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the new laws, as there can be exceptions to the new rules (see below). And remember that a reputable conservatory company will know what they are, and what isn’t allowed in your area.

These rules are new and planners are still coming to terms with them - so if you are unsure that your conservatory falls into the new guidelines give the planners a call at you local council.

Making Use of the New Legislation

If your new conservatory complies with the following you should be ok, but if it falls foul of any of these categories you will still need to apply for planning permission.

Click for an enlarged view

No more than half the area of land around the "original house" would be covered by additions or other buildings. In planning terms parlance this quite literally means the original house as built, or as it stood at 1 July 1948 if it was built before then.

You may not have extended your house, but previous owners may have, so don’t be caught out. A little detective work looking at deeds and old plans could save a great deal of trouble.

If you come across the term footprint, that means the groundfloor area of the building.

No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway - if you were thinking of adding a conservatory, no matter how small, to the front of your home - consult with the local planners.

• No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof

• Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of three metres for an attached house and four metres for a detached house

• Maximum height of a single-storey rear extension of four metres

• Maximum depth of a rear extension of more than one storey of three metres including ground floor

• Maximum eaves height of an extension within two metres of the boundary of three metres

• Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house

• Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of four metres and width no more than half that of the original house

• Roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house

• No verandas, balconies or raised platforms

• On designated land no permitted development for rear extensions of more than one storey; no cladding of the exterior; no side extensions.

People living on designated land can include national parks and the
Broads, conservation areas, areas of outstanding natural beauty, and world
heritage sites. Again, if you are not sure if your property falls into one of these
special areas a quick call to the planning department of your local authority
will give you the information you need.

On the subject of special cases the new legislation does not exclude gaining permission for changes to listed buildings where it is needed. To see how your home conforms a check is essential.

Check it out

Although the legislation states that planning permission is not needed, any conservatory has to conform to building regulations. These include glazing and any fixed electrical installations.

To keep on the side of the law visit There is a section for the general public which explains what is needed.

This is also a good site to check out the new planning laws - it is used by many local authorities to provide online guidelines to the public.

Don't Rush In

The legislation is new and hasn’t been in the hands of planners for long, so if you are unsure what any of the above points mean call your local council to confirm that you are both interpreting the rules in the same way. It may be a good idea to get that confirmation in writing, in case of future queries.

A reputable conservatory company will have already contacted the local planning office to ensure that it is giving its customers the correct advice.

If you are erecting a DIY conservatory - a little time checking with planners and what the original footprint of your house was could save a lot of time, money, effort and even having to take it down in the long run

Legislation Prior to October 2008

Do I need planning permission?

Do I need Building Regulation approval?

To help you understand these issues we detail below some of the "conditions" attached to planning permission and building regulations. (These apply to England/Wales only) Scottish, Northern Ireland, Eire and North American regulations are quite different - You should in all instances take local advice. For information on the rules for Scotland click here.


In England and Wales you will not usually require planning permission, provided you do not exceed the permitted development limit for your property (which is 50-70 cubic metres, depending on where you live). Notable exceptions to the above are listed buildings and conservation areas. Please note that if your property has been extended in the past - you will have used up some or perhaps all of your "permitted development" area and may need permission. Its also worth noting that occasionally "permitted development" rights may be withdrawn from a property and any extension however small needs planning. If in doubt check.


Generally speaking conservatories/sunrooms on residential property are exempted under Building Regulations. 

Below are some of the Exemption Criteria - under the Building Regulations 1991 (as amended). These criteria must be met for a conservatory extension to be classified as exempt: 

a) The extension has a completely transparent or translucent roof.
b) The extension walls are substantially glazed. Must have at least half the area of the walls formed of windows. Must have at least three quarters of the area of the roof formed of glazing, polycarbonate sheets or similar translucent material.
c) The extension has a floor area not exceeding 30m squared. 
d) The extension is sited at ground level.
e) The extension is permanently separated from the remainder of the property by means of a door.
f) Any radiator within the conservatory is controllable. (If fixed heating installations are proposed, they should have their own separate temperature and on/off controls).
g) The glazing satisfies the requirements of part N, Schedule 1 (toughened/safety glass).
h) The extension does not contain any drainage facilities. (i.e. sink, WC, or washing machine)

An example of where building regulation approval may be required is a Kitchen / Conservatory Extension. We suggest you contact your local council - explain your intentions - they will be able to give you more specific advice.

As a further guide conservatories that require building regulation approval will need glazing of the highest insulation quality i.e. - Pilkington K Glass (low E) with argon filled units.

Looking for a Conservatory Architect / Surveyor? - Check out the webs leading resource for conservatory surveyors: Website includes a directory of surveyors, architects and conservatory designers in the UK.

ATTENTION - Surveyors/Architects - You are invited to submit your details at

Our grateful thanks to Extensions in Glass and British Conservatories for providing the gallery images on this page.

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