Garage Conversions - do they need Planning Permission?
In most cases no although every home owner is advised to have a scheme drawing prepared
by a house extension designer or architect and to then apply for a certificate of Lawful development from your
Councils Planning Dept. This way you avoid the ambiguities of the situation and you obtain a legally binding
document confirming that formal Planning permission will not be required.
The usual circumstances for when a garage conversion scheme does require the benefit of a formal Planning
Approval is as follows:-
1 - There is an Article 4 direction on the property or within an area removing the sites PD rights or seeking to
control certain actions unless you have obtained formal Planning consent first.
2 - The original planning approval for the property or any subsequent planning approvals that have been
implemented on site had a condition removing the sites permitted development rights. Many Planning Authorities
sneak this condition in as a way for controlling development to a property or site as they hate permitted
development rights - What! - allowing an individual property owner to extend or covert part of their home? Whatever
3 - Part of the conversion works create new volume or projects towards a highway. A simple bow window normally
triggers the requirement for a formal planning application so always keep within the existing built building volume
if you want to avoid formal planning consent as most homeowners do.
4 - Part of the conversion works affects the external of a property within a controlled area such as a
Conservation area for example that again triggers the requirements for a formal Planning application.
5 - The garage conversion scheme is just one part of a wider more complex development for the property. A two
storey rear extension may also be proposed at the same time and if garage conversion element is also shown on the
main extension scheme then the Planners will and often do have the power to control and restrict this element of
the scheme. For example you may be short on off road car parking spaces for the extension and the garage conversion
removes a car space or two that cannot be made up elsewhere on the site.
This then triggers a refusal for the whole proposal based upon deficient car parking for the number of bedrooms
proposed. However, the planners will never advise you of this technicality or become a helpful proactive service
provider as they should. This situation can be very easily overcome by simply splitting the scheme into two
distinct parts. Applying for Planning permission on the two storey extension first and when obtained simply
submitting a certificate of lawful development for the garage conversion - hey presto - all approved and legal.
Most experienced house extension designers and architects will know of these issues and
advise you accordingly for a tactical approach to the planners. Not knowing important information such as this can
cost a home owner very dear embarking on a DIY cost cutting scheme. This is when paying for professional services
from the experienced designers right at the start of your garage conversion scheme can be very cost effective and
great value for money.