Property in a conservation area awaiting permitted development

As a general rule, in a conservation area, permitted development rights are very highly limited. That’s largely due to restrictions placed by the national planning policy. On top of that, they are removed even further when local councils refine their own policies. More so still when an Article 4 directive is applied to the conservation area, or any area for that matter, as it means any renovation requires full planning.

All three of these layers reduce permitted development rights in a conservation area more than the last. Sadly, it’s highly likely that all of them apply to any conservation area which means that you need full planning permission for any work you want to be done. For the rare cases where not all three of them limit your home, however, it’s useful to know what each one of them does.

The National Planning Policy

According to the Technical Guidance on Permitted Development Rights for Householders, when looking at conversation areas and permitted development rights, the vast majority of permitted development rights are removed. That means roof extensions, side extensions, any extension above one storey in height, cladding of any kind, and other buildings (listed as buildings, enclosures, pools or containers sited on the sides of the house & curtilage) are all not allowed and require planning permission instead.

This does however mean that a rear extension of a maximum height of one storey is not restricted. That’s by the national policy at least, but that’s not all there is to consider. Neither are internal works, installation of roof lights/skylights, or the addition of a structure like an enclosure or pool under one storey at the rear of your property. This is unless article 4 applies or if the local planning authority sets out different standards, which is very highly likely.

Local Planning Authorities

In addition to the national planning policy, local planning authorities also interpret and apply their own rules. Work within their respective locations has to adhere to this in order to be lawfully carried out. Every single council likely has their own individual interpretations of this national policy, and the rules vary from place to place.

In the vast majority of cases, the rules around permitted development rights in a conservation area are stricter than the national policy outlines. In fact, they typically strip practically every right away and require planning applications to be submitted instead. At the very least, you’ll likely require prior approval before any works can be carried out to allow them to see work before it’s done.

Article 4

Lastly, article 4 is the final hard hitter when looking at permitted development rights in a conservation area for homeowners. Article 4 is a directive used when an area of acknowledged importance would be threatened, according to the planning portal. They can be used in any area where they are seen as necessary, like conservation areas, town centres, and much more too.

Article 4 can be applied to an area as a whole, to a particular site or even building, and can be for only a specific development if that is decided. Where they are applied to a whole area like on a conservation area, as they so commonly are, they essentially act as a blanket removal of permitted development rights for homeowners. They mean that all works require planning permission before they are carried out if they are applicable to the article.


Ultimately, permitted development rights in conservation areas generally don’t exist. They are almost always stripped away by a combination of the local authority, national policy and Article 4. It’s almost impossible to find a situation where this doesn’t apply, especially for things like extensions or changes to the roof structure.

The best thing that you can do when looking to see what your options are for this situation is practically always going to be to contact an architectural or planning professional. They will be equipped to give you the best advice possible and assess your unique situation before wasting any money on excess enquiries or assumptions.