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What happens if you don’t get planning permission?

| Insurance

When making significant changes to your home there are a few things to consider including, budget, design and planning permission. Once you have identified whether or not you need planning permission, it’s time to submit your application.

Applying for planning permission can be a daunting prospect, particularly if you’ve never had to do it before. There’s a risk your plans may not get approved, which could be due to issues with the proposed design, or people in the area who aren’t happy with what you’re altering. If your application does get rejected, you can find out below exactly what to do, as well as the changes you can make without the need for permission.

It’s worth noting that any changes you make to your home could alter its value, and therefore, you should also notify your home insurance provider, to make sure your policy is up to date and correct.

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Who can object to planning permission?

Any member of the public is allowed to have a say on planning permission, whether the application is for a property in their local area or further afield. This means a person who objects to your plans doesn’t necessarily have to be a neighbour.

It's quite unusual for someone who doesn't live locally to object to a planning application. However, there may be some circumstances where this is the case, for instance, an environmentalist might wish to object to planning permission for a large development of new homes.

What to do if your planning permission is refused

If your application has been rejected, keep reading to find out what you can do next.

Find out why

There are many reasons for planning permission rejection, but the most common ones for domestic properties include:

  • The character and appearance doesn’t fit the period or style of your home
  • The build will overshadow or overlook a neighbour’s property
  • The build could restrict road access or increase traffic levels
  • There could be an adverse effect on the local wildlife or trees

You should take a look at your plans again and see if/where any of the above could occur. It could be that a neighbour has objected to your plan over access, such as parking, or they’re worried the changes could affect their privacy.

Change your plans

The planning decision can take up to eight weeks, and during this time the local authority will send letters to each of your neighbours to ask them if they object to any part of your plan. If any objections do come through, you may be able to find these out prior to your application being accepted or rejected through discussions with the planning officer. When this is the case, you could make small changes to your plans while the application is still being considered.

If you think that your application is going to be rejected but you haven’t yet received confirmation of this, you have a chance to withdraw your application. Once it’s withdrawn, you can make the changes you want to and submit the application again. As long as you resubmit within 12 months, you shouldn’t need to pay again for the submission.


Appealing generally isn’t recommended due to the amount of time it takes and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be successful upon appealing. However, if you do believe that your planning application has been rejected on unfair or unacceptable grounds, you can make an appeal for the decision to be overturned.

If you wish to appeal a decision, you must start the process within 12 weeks of the council’s decision. You will need to supply your initial application, the site ownership certificate and the local authority’s decision notice. There are three ways of appealing – in writing, at an informal hearing and via a public inquiry.

The process can take up to six months, but you will hear back from your planning inspectorate once they have looked over your appeal and come to a decision. The inspector may even need to come to the property to visualise how your plans will look when completed.

What can I build without planning permission?

When planning permission isn’t required, the work is known as ‘permitted development’. This means you don’t need permission from anyone to make such changes, making the process of altering your home that little bit easier.

Not all works are permitted development, such as large extensions or an increased number of outbuildings, but there are a surprising amount of changes you can make without having to apply for planning permission. If you’re unsure about whether you need planning for the changes you wish to make, you can speak to your local council for confirmation.

Loft conversion

If you want to add another bedroom or an extra living space, you can convert your loft without permission. There are some rules, for example you can’t make the space bigger or taller and you should try to use similar materials to the rest of the house, but it generally comes under permitted development.

Single-storey rear extension

In some cases, you can build an entire single-storey extension with no need for planning permission. There are a few rules around how large and tall the extension can be, but if you’re willing to stick to these, you can get the build started much faster.

To be considered a permitted development, the single-storey extension must:

  • Not cover more than 50% of the total land around the original house
  • Not be closer than two metres to a boundary
  • Use materials that match those on the rest of the house
  • Be less than four metres in size from the back of a detached house, or less than three metres in size for any other type of house

This means, if you wanted to build a single-storey rear extension that’s less than three metres deep and uses similar materials, you don’t need planning permission. These regulations may differ if your house is built on designated land – this is land that sits on or within a conservation area, a place of outstanding natural beauty, a World Heritage site or a National Park – so do check the exact rules with your local council before assuming that you do or don’t need planning permission.

Garage conversion

If you wish to convert an existing garage space into something else, like a new kitchen or an additional living room, you won’t need permission as long as the space stays the same size as the existing garage. It must be for residential use, and so you may not be able to convert a garage without planning permission if you will use it as a home office. As a rule, it’s not usually necessary to get planning permission to undertake a garage to office conversion. However, there are some circumstances where planning permission, or checking building regulations, might be necessary. You can get more clarification from your local planning authority (LPA) for this type of building work.

New windows and doors

In most cases you don’t need planning permission if you want to change your windows and doors for new ones, and you could even swap them out for larger ones too. It should be noted, however, that a bay window requires permission and if you own a listed building further permission may be needed.

Adding or removing internal walls

If you wish to take out any internal walls, or install new ones, you won’t need planning permission. As long as the size of your property isn’t significantly changing and you’re not moving staircases, it should be fine to change the inside layout.

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