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Permitted Development

In April 2015, the Government introduced new rules to allow more flexibility for retail units and office buildings to be converted to residential use without planning permission and increased limits for householder extensions. There are also new processes for dealing with certain development proposals such as erecting solar panels on non-domestic buildings.

Known as permitted development, some minor alterations to your house (replacement windows and extensions such as a single storey rear extension), may be carried out without planning permission.

When will I need permission?

Planning permission is usually needed if you are:

  • proposing to undertake certain building or engineering works;
  • changing the use of a particular building or parcel of land; or
  • changing the use of your property;
    • a shop to an office; or
    • conversion of a house into flat.

You may also need consent from us if you:

  • want to display advertisements or signage;
  • wish to alter listed buildings; or
  • demolish buildings.

If you want a formal decision as to whether planning permission is required for your development, you will need to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.


Hertfordshire County Council Highways Development Control has a specific design guide for development as well as a planning obligations toolkit for sustainable transport measures. They have also introduced a new pre-application service where you can seek advice on highway related matters such as sustainable transport, highway safety and design of highway networks.

Highways Development Management
Tel: 0300 123 4047

How we can help with your application

Contacting us before formally submitting a planning application can be critically important. It should provide you with a clear understanding of your developments objectives and constraints, as well as provide an opportunity for wider engagement, where appropriate, with other stakeholders, including the local community.

Pre-application engagement can:

  • identify opportunities for scheme improvements at a stage when a proposal can still be modified, resulting in a higher quality development;
  • significantly increase the likelihood of gaining a positive recommendation by our planning officers;
  • help to communicate the vision and objectives for the area;
  • develop a shared understanding of constraints, opportunities and context;
  • agree information requirements and identify schemes which are unlikely to be supported;
  • establish timescales and explain administrative processes; and
  • reduce delays through early engagement of key parties.

To cover our costs for pre-application advice, we introduced pre-application charges in accordance with Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2003. Payments are fixed for pre-applications and all our prices include VAT charged at 20%.

To ensure that timely advice can be given, please provide the minimum level of information set out in the Pre-Application Advice Form.

Although pre-application advice possibly forms a material consideration of a formal planning application, it does not constitute a formal or guaranteed outcome in the determination of a future planning application or other form of submission. Any views or opinions expressed are given in good faith, without prejudice to the formal consideration of any planning application, which will be subject to a period of public consultation and maybe decided at a Planning Committee.

Applications submitted without pre-application discussions and require significant amendments to make the development acceptable are likely to be refused.

Pre-Application Advice form - opens new window

Interactive House

You can use the Planning Portal Interactive House for guidance on many household projects. Furthermore, certain development works may also not require planning permission from us as they would be classed as permitted development.

Examples of permitted development include:

  • erection of click and collect structures;
  • certain telecommunications development;
  • certain agricultural and forestry development; and
  • extensions to offices, industrial buildings, schools and universities.

The Planning Portal also provides advice on various common projects.

Houses of Multiple Occupation

Houses in multiple occupation are defined as 3 to 6 occupants who share basic amenities as set out under Government Circular 08/2010 - 'Changes to Planning Regulations for dwelling houses and houses in multiple occupation'.

On the 6th April 2010, an amendment was to made to the Use Classes Order (The Town and Country Planning (Use Classes) (Amendment) (England) Order 2010 (SI 2010/653) which introduced the definition of small-scale house in multiple occupation. It effectively split the old Use Class C3 (dwelling houses) into 2 separate classes. These classes are defined as C3 (dwelling house) and Class C4 (houses in multiple occupation). This reclassification therefore, did not amount to change of use under planning permission. Therefore, planning permission would not have been required to convert a residential property into a House of Multiple Occupation.

We have introduced an Article 4 Direction relating to Houses in Multiple Occupation. This Direction came into force on 20 September 2017 which takes away permitted development rights and requires a planning application to be submitted for all conversions of residential properties to Houses of Multiple Occupation.

Separately, if you are looking to convert a dwelling house into a HMO, you may require a licence under Environmental Health legislation and Building Regulations approvals.

If you are looking to convert a dwelling house where there would be more than 6 occupants sharing facilities, you will require permission from us. This is because it would be classed as a Large House in Multiple Occupation.

Duty Planning Service

Our Duty Planning Service will remain as a free service to provide general planning advice for householders in reception and on the telephone. However, this will be for small scale developments only. You can contact our duty planning officer between 9am and 1pm Monday to Friday on 01438 242159. No appointment is necessary but enquiries are limited to a maximum of 15 minutes. No site visits or written responses will be available from this service. An answer machine will be available in the afternoons and any calls received will be dealt with by the duty officer the following morning. In addition, any email received in the afternoon will also be passed onto the duty planning officer to respond the following day.

General Planning Enquiries

Development Management
Planning and Regulation
Stevenage Borough Council
Daneshill House

01438 242159