Retrospective Planning Permission | All You Need to Know | Checkatrade
Review a Trade

Have you completed a project recently? Let your tradesperson know how they did.

Advice Centre

Get Inspired! Check the latest industry expertise and read insider tips from our vetted tradespeople.

Search For A Trade

We interview and vet all our tradespeople to ensure they meet our high standards.

Join Checkatrade

Join us and benefit from the millions of potential customers who use Checkatrade to find reliable tradespeople.

Advice Centre

Grow your business! Check out top tips and expert advice for boosting your reputation online.

Login To Your Account

Edit your profile, view callback requests and ask for feedback from customers.

What is retrospective planning permission?

Want to know when you should apply for retroactive planning permission, what happens if there’s a breach or when it’s needed? Our guide has all the answers.

Extension with planning permissionWhat is retrospective planning permission?

One of the most exciting times for a homeowner is renovating or extending their property. Although this can be a big upheaval, the potential results make any inconvenience worth it. Many home improvements require planning permission, but this can cause costly delays and as such it is often forgotten about.

If you didn’t apply for planning permission and went ahead and renovated your home, you will likely need to apply for retrospective planning permission. This is the process of applying for planning permission after you have already improved your home.

Without this important permission, you may be unable to sell your home as the property will differ from the land registry records. In addition, you may be forced to undo all your renovations if your application is rejected. In fact, according to Your Mortgage, about 12% of applications for retrospective planning permission are rejected, which can be very expensive to remedy.

We will be looking deeper into retrospective planning permission as well as building without planning permission consequences, retrospective planning permission cost and so much more.

What about the 4 year or 10 year rules?

If you have heard of the retrospective planning permission 10 year rule or the 4 year rule, you might be wondering what this means. Basically, these apply to renovations that have been completed without planning permission that have been in use for either four or ten years without any challenges by enforcement action. We’ll cover this rule in a little more detail below.

How much will it cost?

If you are wondering about retrospective planning permission cost, you can expect to pay £462 for a new single dwelling or £206 for an extension. To learn more about planning permission and retrospective planning permission, please see our handy planning permission cost guide.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job

Breach of planning permissionsWhat happens if there’s a breach of planning conditions?

As applying for planning permission is an essential requirement for any home renovations (not all home improvements will require planning permission) it is important that you obtain this. If you are instead applying for retrospective planning permission, be aware that your request may be rejected.

In this case, you’ll be issued a planning enforcement notice which outlines the action you need to take to remedy the breach of planning conditions. Please note, not complying with an enforcement notice is a criminal offence.

When is building control required?

Hiring a tradesperson will usually mean any work done on your home will comply with building regulations as the responsibility is theirs. Alternatively, if you are planning to complete any renovations yourself, it will be your responsibility to check your finished work complies with building regulations.

If you are wondering when building control is required, it will generally apply to any new buildings, extensions, alterations, underpinning and many other types of renovation. For more information, including how to get approval, view the official portal.

What happens if you build without planning permission?

So, what happens if you build without planning permission? Any building works that are done without planning permission are considered a planning breach. While you haven’t broken the law, you will need to obtain retrospective planning permission.

If your application fails, the main penalty for breach of planning permission is an enforcement notice that requires you to undo all your renovations which you will need to pay for. As we mentioned above, the 4 year rule for building without planning permission means the local authority only has four years in which to take action against you.

One common example of a home improvement that needs planning permission is an extension. There’s a range of different criteria to check whether you can build your extension without planning permission (here’s a full overview). If you build your extension without planning permission this is risky and could prove costly if you need to take down the extension.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job

Bungalow with planning permissionBreach of planning permission and breach of planning control

The main penalty for breach of planning permission is an enforcement notice and not complying with this is a criminal offence. As we mentioned above, it isn’t illegal to build without planning permission but if your local authority finds out about your unauthorised renovation you could be issued with an enforcement notice.

Generally, the enforcement period for breach of planning condition is four or 10 years depending on your circumstances. For more information visit the government enforcement page.

Further assistance

If you are still unsure whether you need to obtain retrospective planning permission or are confused about any part of this guide, speaking to a property surveyor can help. They can discuss your renovations, whether you will need retrospective planning permission, and they can help with your application. Our free search feature can connect you with trusted property surveyors today.

If you want to know more about the cost of planning permission, our planning permission cost guide is full of handy prices and tips. In addition, there is also talk of allowing double-storey extensions without planning permission. Our fascinating blog post covers everything you need to know about this proposed change.

See the tradespeople we've checked and recommend for your job


How big can a building be without planning permission?

If you are considering building a new structure on your property, you may need to obtain planning permission for this. Alternatively, there are circumstances when a new outbuilding is classed as permitted development and won’t require planning permission.

But, how big can a building be without planning permission? Providing your new structure is below four metres high and doesn’t take up more than half of the land around your home you will typically not need to get planning permission.

How big can I build a shed without planning permission?

Sheds are a great solution to garden clutter and can keep your possessions in good condition, protected from the elements. Building a new shed can be a fun project but always be aware you may need planning permission.

Wondering how big you can build a shed without planning permission? As long as your shed is only one storey high, less than 2.5 metres high (if it is within two metres of the boundary of your land), takes up less than 15 metres square and doesn’t cover more than half of the land around your home, you are typically ok to proceed. If you are at all unsure, get professional advice.

What can I build on agricultural land without planning permission?

If you own agricultural land, you may believe you are entitled to build and alter the land in any way you choose. However, this is not always the case. If you want to avoid applying for planning permission, ensure your new structure is:

  • Over 75 metres from your neighbours’ homes
  • Less than 500 square metres in size
  • Less than 12 metres high
  • Build on land that is over 0.5 hectares
  • Is used for agricultural purposes.

How big can a garage be without planning permission?

Garages will usually be attached to your home so if you plan to add a new garage, this would be classed as an extension when it comes to planning permission. There are a few instances when you won’t need to obtain planning permission for a single storey or side extensions. These include:

  • If the extension is less than four metres high
  • It doesn’t extend more than four metres back from your house
  • It is less than half the width of your house

How long does retrospective planning permission take?

It will usually take between 8 – 13 weeks to obtain planning permission or retrospective planning permission.

Disclaimer: The images included in this piece are of extensions and works that were given planning permissions.

Tell us what you think

Please leave your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What others think of this article:

Bryan Batty

Excellent article very informative and covers all the questions and answers

Also in this project

Planning appeal costs

Planning permission decisions aren’t always final. So, if your application for a dream extension to your home is rejected, there is potentially some action you can take. If your planning application...

Read more
How much does an architect cost to hire?

If you have a design in mind, a skilled architect can help to turn your idea into a detailed technical drawing complete with calculations, specifications and timescales. Naturally, work of this nature...

Read more
Cost of planning permission

The cost of submitting a planning application varies across the UK, but is currently £426 for a full application for a new single dwelling in England. To see more costs, check out our guide!...

Read more
How much does it cost to renovate a house?

Does your home need a new lease of life? Or are you buying a new property to renovate? Either way, renovating a house can be an incredibly rewarding one, which is why we’ve put together this guide t...

Read more