Replacing Your Conservatory Roof & Planning Permission
Most conservatories fall within the definition of ‘Permitted Development’ and so you won’t need planning permission to replace your conservatory roof in the same way that you probably didn’t need planning permission to build the conservatory in the first place.
What are Permitted Development Rights?
Permitted Development rights derive from a general planning permission granted by Parliament and not by the local authority and this allows for certain types of work without the requirement to specifically apply for planning permission. Permitted Development rights or PD rights apply to well-defined projects like flats, maisonettes and conservatories.
Are there any restrictions or exceptions to this?
The right to build a conservatory or undertake any refurbishment work to it including replacing the roof will not usually require planning permission, however, there are certain scenarios where this automatic right may not apply. Some areas of the UK are known as ‘designated areas’ and if you live in one of these then PD rights are more restricted. These areas include:-
- A conservation area
- A National Park
- An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or AONB
- A World Heritage Site
- The Suffolk or Norfolk Broads
- Site of Special Scientific Interest or SSSI
Development is more restricted due to the desire to protect the unique characteristics of beautiful and unspoilt locations. You will need to apply for planning permission for some types of work which would not usually need planning permission if you lived elsewhere.
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What is an Article 4 Direction?
An Article 4 Direction can be made by the local authority and will remove some of the standard permitted development rights for houses in a designated area. This will mean that planning permission may be required to replace a conservatory roof.
Article 4 Directions are usually made when the character of an area of acknowledged importance would be compromised or threatened by unrestricted development. This does not have to be a historic area necessarily, it could be quite a modern location where the buildings or landscape are of structural significance.
Listed Buildings have different requirements altogether and regardless of where the property is located. Listed building status controls modifications and development to properties that are considered to be of special architectural and historic interest; this can include many period houses.
Generally, listing applies to all buildings before 1700 which survive in anything like their original condition and most buildings constructed between 1700 and 1850. More modern buildings from the 20th century may also have a listing status if they are of architectural or some sort of special historic interest although there are fewer of these. A planning application may be necessary.
The conservatory will not be listed (unless it is a Georgian or Victorian original) but it may be attached to a house that is listed and as such, there could be restrictions or requirements imposed on the style of conservatory roof and the type of materials used.
What is a conservation area?
Your home may not be listed but it could be situated within a Conservation Area in a town or village in which case the standard PD rights may be affected. The statutory definition of a Conservation Area is ‘an area of special architectural or historic interest, the character of which it is desirable to preserve or enhance.’ This definition is laid down in The Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990.
You may have a home within a conservation area that is not listed but which could be subject to some restrictions if you decide to upgrade your conservatory roof. You will need to speak to the local authority to discuss this further.
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Can my conservatory roof installer advise me on the requirements for planning permission?
Most conservatory companies will be well aware of local restrictions for the construction of new conservatories and the refurbishment of existing structures. But the final word should come from the local authority, don’t rely on your contractor as there may be issues specific to your property which they are not aware of. Most reputable contractors will only give a general view and will always encourage you to seek proper confirmation from the local council.
Changing your old clear conservatory roof for a new tiled or slate version
It used to be the case that for a conservatory to be exempt from planning permission and Building Regulations, a certain percentage of the roof had to be glazed. However, in 2010, Building Regulations changed to remove this requirement so now if you want to opt for a solid roof construction and lose that old glass or polycarbonate roof permanently, it will not be considered to be an extension i.e. it is still a conservatory. This applies to new builds and current buildings but if the property to which the conservatory is attached is listed or within a conservation area then this overrides the new changes and you may still need planning permission. If you are thinking of making the switch, read more about the cost of a slate roof.
Are there other restrictions that may affect your plans to replace a conservatory roof?
There could be a Neighbour Consultation Scheme in your area which requires you to notify adjacent or nearby homes of your intentions even if you do not require planning permission.
On 30th May 2019, the government permanently increased the size limits for single-storey rear extensions allowed under PD and for which planning permission is not required. The size allowed without planning consent has effectively doubled overnight however, larger single-storey rear extensions are now subject to the new Neighbourhood Consultation Scheme which means that the views and possibly the objections of near neighbours must be taken into account. The process is run by the local authority who liaise with the surrounding properties and is called a ‘Prior Approval’ application.
This should not affect conservatories as these are not the same classification or refurbishment work to existing conservatories but if you are on a new development, it is always worth checking that you are not required to consult your neighbours before you make any changes to the roof which could affect the size and appearance of the conservatory.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Building Regulations the same as Planning Permission?
No, the two are different processes and in place for different reasons. Building regulations apply to the construction of any building and have nothing to do with ratings for listings. Historically, conservatories have not been required to comply with Building Regulations and it is very unlikely that a new conservatory roof is going to fall foul of building regulations but if you are opting for a solid roof replacement then you may want to check with your local council. Alternatively, your conservatory contractor should be able to advise you.
I am unsure whether I need planning permission or not to replace my conservatory roof, what should I do?
Most conservatory contractors are very familiar with local planning laws which is why it can be helpful to use a company based in your area rather than an organisation from further afield. If you are in any doubt even after speaking to your installer then you should contact the local planning authority for clarification. If you undertake work that requires planning permission without the necessary consents in place, then they can compel you to reverse the work and at your own expense.
What is the real difference between planning permission and buildings regulations?
Planning permission is a system designed to safeguard the wider environment from changes that you make to your home whereas buildings regulations refer to a set of standards to ensure a property is safe and comfortable to live in. If you decide to add a solid traditional roof to your conservatory then a survey will need to be carried out to make sure the existing structure is safe to bear the increased weight. This will involve building regulation control checks and it may be necessary to involve the local Building Inspector depending on the type of work you want to do. However, ensuring a structure is safe and sound doesn’t always involve checks and inspections from the local authority but your conservatory contractor must be able to upgrade the frame if necessary so it is compliant with modern building regulations.
The question of whether you need planning permission to replace your conservatory roof does not always have a straightforward answer but the usual triggers for an application are:-
- A listed property
- A home situated within a conservation area
- A house where Permitted Development rights have been restricted due to its location
The requirement for buildings regulation approval is entirely different and there could also be other restrictions or covenants in place if your home is on a modern estate or new development. If in doubt, always check with your local authority and don’t necessarily rely on your roofing contractor; the implications and the expense of getting this wrong can be quite significant.
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