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What is permitted?

Whether or not your building project needs planning permission you will still need to meet building regulations. See Bristol City Council’s website (below right)

Permitted development

Building works to single dwellings that do not need planning permission are known as permitted development. If you live in a flat or maisonette it is likely that planning permission will be needed for any external extension or alteration. 
The Planning Portal is the online planning and building regulations resource for England and Wales and has useful information on “common projects” including conservatories, loft conversions, solar panels and windows.
  • There is less detail on solid wall insulation for which planning permission is not normally required for fitting as long as there is no change in external appearance. However, if the building is listed or is in a conservation area you should consult your local planning authority.
  • Some recent changes have been made in the planning requirements for single story rear extensions. See also here.
  • In most cases, solar panels on houses do not need planning permission. However there are some restrictions, for example, the panels should not project more than 200mm from the roof or wall.
To find out if you need planning permission go to  the Planning Portal (below left).
Note: - If you are not sure about anything contact the planning department or get independent professional advice before carrying out any building works. Do not assume that estate agent’s details are correct and do check with your solicitor whether the house you are buying is listed.


Listed buildings and conservation areas

Tighter planning controls apply to both listed buildings and houses in conservation areas. English Heritage website's Listed Buildings Online lists 2165 listed sites in Bristol!
A significant amount of older Bristol areas such as Cotham and Redland, Sea Mills,Stapleton and Frome Valley, City Docks etc are designated as a conservation areas. See the council's Urban Planning department's excellent Know Your Place website


To find out if your property is a listed building or in a conservation area check here.  
  • If you are replacing windows, as long as you are retaining like for like materials, finishes and style (i.e. single glazed wood box framed sash windows for double glazed wood box framed sash windows) you will not need planning permission (see exterior and interior pictures above left and right). If you want to change the look and feel of the windows you will need to apply for planning permission. 
  • If you want to apply external wall insulation and you live in a conservation area you will need to apply for planning permission. 
  • Solar panels must be installed in line with this guidance: 

i) Listed building consent is required if the property is a listed building.

ii) If the property is in a conservation area, planning permission is required if the panels are fitted on the principal or side wall and are visible from the road.

You can find further guidance on solar panels here.

"The windows were rotten, and I’ve known for a number of years that I should do something with them. I found a local manufacturer who was able to make the windows so that they look original. that match what else is in the road." - Michael, 2015 Householder

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