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Conservatories Quick Guide: Planning Permission and Building Regulations

Conservatories Quick Guide: Planning Permission and Building Regulations


Homeowners need to make a number of decisions when they add a conservatory to their home, finding a high quality conservatory that fits their budget, choosing the best style of conservatory to match their home, and deciding between different fittings and glazing options. But certain other questions frequently arise for those buying a conservatory for the first time: do I need planning permission? Does the conservatory have to meet certain building regulations?

Both planning permission and building regulations are governed by your local authority, but they are two separate issues which are easily and frequently confused. In brief, planning permission concerns whether you have the permission to erect a building or extend your home (e.g. with a conservatory). Building regulations on the other hand outline certain standards and parameters which must be followed and determine how your conservatory or extension is constructed.

Do I need planning permission to build a conservatory?
Unless you live on green belt land, an area of natural beauty, or live in a listed building, you have certain “Permitted Development” (PD) rights that allow you to make improvements and alterations to you home, as long as they meet certain criteria.

For conservatories, these criteria include:

  • The conservatory plus other buildings (e.g. a shed or other extension) must take up no more than half the area of land around the "original house".
  • The conservatory must not extend further than 3 metres (attached house) or 4 metres (detached home) from the rear wall of the original house.
  • The conservatory must be no more than 4 metres tall (or 3 metres tall if the conservatory is within 2 metres of your property boundary).
  • The conservatory is not on the front of the home and / or facing a road.

The government’s Planning Portal website has a full list of the criteria concerning conservatories, as well as a useful interactive guide. Note: if the conservatory you have in mind exceeds any of these criteria, you will indeed need to apply for planning permission from your local authority.
It is also important to bear in mind that if your home has already been extended in the past, you may have already used up some or all of your “permitted development” rights. If this is the case, planning permission may well be required for any new development of your home.

Does my new conservatory need to meet certain building regulations?
It may seem like a lot of unnecessary red tape, but building regulations exist to ensure all buildings, homes and extensions meet certain standards. Building Regulations help to ensure buildings are safe for you and your neighbours, are well ventilated, do not a pose a fire hazard, are energy efficient, and are generally fit for purpose.

Luckily, conservatories are exempt from building regulations as long as:

  • The total floor area of your conservatory does not exceed 30 m2
  • At least 50% of the walls are constructed of glazing.
  • At least 75% of the roof is constructed of transparent glazing.
  • All glazing must be made of toughened safety glass (the energy efficient StayCool glazing featured on our conservatories is incredibly strong and resilient)
  • The conservatory is at ground level and is single story only.
  • The conservatory can be separated from the rest of the home by a door (internal bifold doors are a perfect solution here).
  • Any radiators installed in your conservatory must feature their own on/off switch and independent temperature control.
  • Your conservatory must not contain any water drainage facilities (for a washing machine, dishwasher etc.).

If your planned conservatory does not comply with any one of these criteria, you would be advised to contact your local authority building control office in the first instance to arrange their approval and monitoring of your project before proceeding.

Please note that the brief summary above applies to conservatories erected in England and Wales. Regulations in Scotland may differ.

For more comprehensive guidance and to stay up to date with any changes in legislation, we would always advise customers to take a look at the government Planning Portal website. The portal also allows you to submit your project for planning permission online, should the need arise.

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