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Do I need planning permission to build a dormer in my home?

Dormer roofs Leeds

If you're considering adding a dormer to your house in the UK, you must have probably asked this question: "Do I need planning permission to build a dormer?" The answer to this question is not always straightforward. It depends on a variety of factors including the size of the dormer, its location, and the type of property you have.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore all the facets of planning permission related to building a dormer in your house in the UK. Our aim is to equip you with the right knowledge so that you can navigate this complex issue with ease.

What is Planning Permission?

Planning permission is a formal consent issued by local planning authorities in the UK, giving approval for the construction or alteration of buildings. It is designed to control inappropriate development and changes to existing buildings, ensuring that any new construction or alteration is in line with local and national planning policies.

Understanding Permitted Development Rights

Before we dive into the specifics of planning permission for dormers, it's crucial to understand permitted development rights. These rights allow homeowners to carry out certain building works without having to apply for planning permission. The UK government granted these rights to help streamline the planning process and reduce the burden on local planning authorities. However, permitted development rights are subject to specific conditions and limitations.

Dormers and Permitted Development Rights

When it comes to building dormers, in many cases, you can proceed under permitted development rights. However, these rights come with certain conditions. According to the General Permitted Development Order (GDPO), which provides the legal framework for permitted development rights, you can add a dormer to your house without planning permission if:

1. The dormer is not higher than the highest part of the existing roof.

2. The dormer does not extend beyond the plane of the existing roof slope at the front of the house.

3. The dormer is not closer to the edge of the roof than 20cm.

4. The materials used in construction are similar in appearance to those on the existing house.

5. The dormer is not situated on a wall that fronts a highway.

It's important to note that these conditions apply to houses and not flats, maisonettes, or other types of buildings. Furthermore, if your property is located within a designated area (such as a conservation area, a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or the Norfolk or Suffolk Broads), additional restrictions apply. Also, if your house is listed, you will need to apply for listed building consent, even if your project falls under permitted development.

When Do You Need Planning Permission?

While the permitted development rights cover a wide range of dormers, there are cases when you will need to apply for planning permission. This includes when:

1. Your proposed dormer exceeds the size limits set by the permitted development rights.

2. You live in a designated area where additional restrictions apply.

3. Your house is listed.

4. The dormer would be forward of the roof plane at the principal elevation fronting a highway.

5. The local authority has removed permitted development rights through what is known as an Article 4 direction.

In these cases, you will need to submit a planning application to your local planning authority.

The Planning Permission Process

If you need to apply for planning permission, the first step is to prepare a detailed proposal for your dormer. This typically includes architectural drawings once you've prepared a detailed proposal for your dormer that includes architectural drawings and a written description of the planned work, you'll submit this to your local planning authority. They'll review it to ensure it aligns with local and national planning policies. The review process typically takes eight weeks for smaller projects and 13 weeks for larger ones.

During the review process, your local planning authority will consider various factors, such as the impact your dormer might have on neighbors, the character of the local area, and whether the proposal is in line with the local planning policy. Local residents and other stakeholders will also have a chance to comment on your application.

If your application is approved, you can proceed with the construction. But if your application is refused, you can appeal the decision. However, it's important to carefully consider the reasons for refusal and discuss them with your local planning authority before lodging an appeal. In many cases, you might be able to resolve the issues and resubmit the application.

Building Regulations for Dormers

In addition to planning permission, you also need to consider building regulations when planning a dormer. These regulations set out minimum standards for the design and construction of buildings to ensure health, safety, welfare, convenience, and sustainability.

Even if your dormer falls under permitted development and doesn't require planning permission, you'll still need to comply with building regulations. These cover aspects such as structural safety, fire safety, energy efficiency, and access. For example, if your dormer is intended to create a new habitable room, it will need to have a suitable means of escape in case of a fire.

Before starting work, it's advisable to submit a building regulations application to your local authority. Once the work is completed, you'll need to get it signed off by a building control surveyor to confirm that it complies with the regulations.

Is It Worth Getting Planning Permission?

If your proposed dormer doesn't meet the conditions for permitted development, you might be wondering whether it's worth the effort to apply for planning permission. The answer largely depends on the benefits you expect from the dormer.

A dormer can add significant value to your property by creating additional living space, such as a new bedroom or bathroom. It can also improve the aesthetic appeal of your house. If these benefits outweigh the cost and effort of obtaining planning permission, then it's certainly worth considering.

However, it's important to keep in mind that getting planning permission doesn't guarantee the success of your project. There are other factors to consider, such as the cost of construction, potential disruption to your living arrangements during the work, and the possible impact on your neighbors.


In conclusion, whether you need planning permission to build a dormer on your house in the UK depends on various factors including the size and location of the dormer, your type of property, and whether you're in a designated area. Even if you don't need planning permission, you'll still need to comply with building regulations.

While the process of obtaining planning permission can be complex and time-consuming, it can also open up opportunities to enhance your property and increase its value. Therefore, it's crucial to thoroughly understand the requirements and process and to seek professional advice if necessary.

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