Extending or Improving Your Home

Extending or Improving Your Home

Deciding to extend or alter your home is an important decision which is likely to involve a large financial investment.

You therefore need to consider carefully the type and size of any alteration or extension.

A poorly designed extension may have a harmful impact upon the appearance of your property and the wider area, and/or may harm the amenity of neighbouring dwellings. 

The most common types of alterations include:

  • adding an extension
  • building a conservatory
  • adding a porch
  • installing a driveway
  • erecting decking
  • adding a balcony/roof terrace
  • outbuildings and sheds
  • installing a satellite dish
  • making changes to the boundary treatment
  • loft conversions and dormer windows
  • rendering or cladding
  • installation of micro-generation equipment such as solar panels

Other alterations include installing a dropped kerb, works to chimneys and flues, installing fuel tanks, installing a swimming pool, and operating a business from home.

The Planning Portal has useful information on all types of common projects.

Do you need planning permission?  

It may be possible to extend or alter your property without the need to apply for planning permission. This is known as permitted development.  

The Planning Portal website provides several interactive guides which describe what you can do without applying for planning permission. You can access these guides using the link here

There may be local restrictions that remove or reduce permitted development on your property.  For example  where the property is in a Conservation Area, is a Listed Building, or where other restrictions apply.

If you think that Planning Permission is not needed for your proposed work and would like this confirmed in writing, this can be provided as part of our householder pre-application advice service.

For a formal decision that you would not need Planning Permission, it is recommended that you submit an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (external link).   This may come in useful if you sell your property in the future.


Common enquiries

The information below may be useful in helping you to decide whether planning permission is needed. You should however always check with the Council before starting work, to make sure there are no additional restrictions on your property.

Boundary Treatment

The Council cannot get involved with boundary disputes but can advise on what needs planning permission. The basic rules are that in normal circumstances planning permission is needed to erect boundary treatment higher than 1 metre adjacent to a highway used by vehicles, or 2 metres in height elsewhere. In this instance, the same rules apply if you live in a flat or maisonette. You should always check with the Council first if you are not sure . Further information is available from the Planning Portal.


The creation of  a hard surfaced driveway to the front of a house over 5 square metres in area  will need to either be made of porous material or drain into a landscaped area to be classed as Permitted Development. 

Further detailed guidance on how you can install a new driveway or hard surface your front garden, and what will need planning permission is available on the government website www.communities.gov.uk at this link.

The creation of a new driveway onto main road will also need planning permission.


Under normal circumstances, a porch on a dwelling can be built without planning permission, providing:

  • it does not exceed 3 metres in height
  • it does not exceed 3 metres in floor area measured externally
  • there are more than 2 metres between the porch and any boundary with a highway

Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.


it's a common misconception that conservatories do not need planning permission. Conservatories are restricted in their size and location in the same way as any other extension to your property.

Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.


Decking and raised patios need planning permission if they are raised above the ground by more than 30 centimetres. This applies where the decking/patio is near to the property or if it is a separate structure or part of a separate structure within the garden. When calculating the height of your decking/patio you need to establish where the original ground level is, bearing in mind that the land levels may have changed in the past. Where ground levels are uneven; for example where your garden is on a slope; the height of the decking/patio above ground level is measured where the ground level is at its highest point.

Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal.

Microgeneration, including solar panels, wind turbines and heat pumps

The installation of "microgeneration equipment" on domestic properties is an increasingly common form of development. There are  Permitted Development rights for work such as installing solar panels, heat pumps and wind turbines on a houseFurther information can be found on the Planning Portal .


Are there any other factors I should consider?

There may be a number of things to take into account when considering an alteration to your property.  These will vary depending on where you live.  Listed below are the most common factors which may affect whether you need any Permission to carry out works.

Permitted development rights vary

This depends on the type of property you have, and its location. The Council also has the power to remove Permitted Development rights. 

You can find information here on where Permitted Development rights have been restricted through Article 4 Direction.

If you do work to your property without Planning Permission or without a formal written confirmation that Planning Permission is not needed, you may be liable to enforcement action where you may have to remove the development. In some cases you may also be prosecuted.

If you live in a flat or a maisonette you have very limited permitted development rights.  You will therefore need to apply for planning permission for most external alterations you wish to make.   There is more information here.


Single Storey Home Extensions

Householders can build larger single-storey rear extensions under permitted development, subject to prior approval.  This scheme does not apply to dwellings in conservation areas, flats or maisonettes.

The Prior Approval option is for a homeowner or occupier wishing to build a larger single-storey rear extension that: 

  • projects more than four metres but no more than eight metres (for detached houses);
  • projects more than three metres but no more than six metres (for all other houses);
  • would not exceed four metres in height and 3 metres to eaves height;
  • would be built in materials of a similar appearance  to those used on the existing house.

Further guidance is available from the Planning Portal . 

More information is here about Applying for Prior Notification


Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

If your property is a listed building or you live in a Conservation Area, other Permissions may also be needed before you can start work to your home. There are also likely to be further restrictions on your Permitted Development rights. It is always best to check with us if you are not sure.

For information relating to listed buildings and living in a Conservation Area please see the Heritage and Conservation section. Historic Environment Officers are also able to advise if you live in an archaeologically sensitive area.

More information is here about Applying for Listed Building Consent for your home.



Trees play an important role on your property, providing privacy and integrating your building into its surroundings. Green leafy streetscapes are amongst the most prized in Newcastle. Trees can be easily damaged during building works and if there are existing trees in your garden or near to your property, then these need to be considered when you plan your work.

Many trees are legally protected by Tree Preservation Orders and if you live in a Conservation Area then all trees with a trunk diameter of 7.5 centimetres or more are protected. Permission is required for any work to a protected tree, including works to its roots, trunk and branches. It is important that you check with our Landscape and Ecology Team to confirm if trees are protected. Even if your proposed work does not need planning permission, you will need Permission for any work that affects protected trees. Failure to comply with this requirement is a criminal offence which could lead to an unlimited fine.

Officers can give advice on the best way of looking after trees before, during and after the work has been carried out. Early identification of the issues relating to trees usually helps you to make the right decisions, saving time and unnecessary disruption as your scheme develops.

For advice please email landscape@newcastle.gov.uk


Protected Species and Habitats

You may not be aware of it, but your house and garden could be home to one or more protected species, such as bats, badgers and great crested newts. You may also be in or next to a Local Wildlife Site or Wildlife Corridor.

Ecological surveys and mitigation may be required if protected species or habitats are affected by your planning application.

It is an offence to carry out works which disturb or would result in harm to a protected species or its habitat. Our Ecology Officer is available to advise further.


Flood Risk Zones

The Flood Map on the Environment Agency website is there to increase awareness among the public, local authorities and other organisations of the likelihood of flooding. It also encourages people living and working in areas prone to flooding to find out more and take appropriate action.

The Flood Map can also be used by those people who wish to apply for planning permission in England to see whether the site they plan to develop is in a flood risk area.

See the Environment Agency's advice on Flood Risk Assessments, check if your property is affected, and what steps to follow if it is.



Other permissions that you may require

Internal and external changes to your property may require Building Regulations consent. 

Building Regulations consent is completely separate from Planning Permission and you should always check both before proceeding with any work. You may still need Building Regulations consent even if you do not need Planning Permission, and vice versa. 

If you are uncertain if your proposals require a Building Regulation Application, Newcastle Building Control Services will be pleased to advise you. They will explain the options available to you in submitting an application. 

A duty officer Building Control Surveyor is available to deal with general enquiries from 8:30am until 4:30pm, Monday to Friday. You can contact Building Control on 0191 278 7878. 

Further information on Building Control 


Residential vehicle crossing

If you need to drive over the pavement or verge to park on your property, you will need to have a vehicle crossing.  A vehicle crossing can also be referred to as a motor crossing, cross over, or dropped kerb.  More information is here, including how to apply.


Legal Covenants

 Your land may also have separate legal covenants on it. These will need to be dealt with as a civil matter by you with any interested party.  


Design guidance

This is a general guide to best practice in terms of design and construction.  It sets out and shows solutions to several common problems, and what type of proposals are generally unacceptable.

The guide is for informal guidance only and is currently under review.



How can I apply for Planning Permission?

1) Pre-application advice  

We offer householder pre-application advice which can informally assess whether planning permission is required for an alteration or extension to your home and highlight potential issues which may arise during the course of any application. 

The advantages include:

  • Confirmation if Planning or related permissions such as Listed Building Consent are needed; 

  • Possible cost saving by not making an application if the Council advises that there are problems which could mean it is likely to be refused; 

  • Advice on the size and design of an extension’s size and design;  this will increase the chance of a quicker decision on an application and reduce the risk of a refusal.

Our pre-application advice and application form for Householders is here.


2) Planning Applications

You can submit your planning application through the Planning Portal. Applying online is a fast and efficient service and there are many advantages if you choose this option.

Alternatively there are options to download the relevant forms.

Information telling you what is needed to send us with your application is also available on the Validation Checklist .


I have submitted my application, what happens next?

We will try to decide all applications within 8 weeks from the date the application is made valid. 


Can I appeal if my application is refused?

If your application is refused Planning Permission, or takes longer than 8 week to determine, you have the right to appeal.

In many cases, it's possible to solve issues by discussing with the case officer. You can resubmit an application of similar nature or smaller once, without having to pay another fee, within a year of the date of the decision.

If you choose to appeal, your application would be assessed independently by the  Government's Planning Inspectorate. You must appeal within 12 weeks from the date of the decision.  Guidance on how to appeal will be provided with your decision notice.

To find out more on the appeal process, please visit the Planning Inspectorate website.



Development Without Planning Permission

If work has not been in accordance with the approved Planning Permission, or where it seems that Planning Permission has not been given, this could be a breach of Planning rules.  The Planning Enforcement team can investigate and take action.  This outcome might involve taking down a development, or having to make changes after the work has been completed.


Did you know?

Building Regulations consent is completely separate from Planning Permission and you should always check both before starting any work.

Internal and external work to your property might still need consent from Building Regulations even if you do not need Planning Permission, and vice versa.

Our colleagues in Building Control can offer advice on this. 

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